Phonetics - Unit Two - Lesson No. 8

Manner of articulation

In this lesson, you will be continuing learning about articulation of consonant sounds. This lesson focuses on the manner of articulation.

At most places of articulation, there are several basic ways in which articulatory gestures can be accomplished. The articulators may close off the oral tract for an instant or a relatively long period. They can narrow the space considerably or they may simply modify the shape of the tract by approaching each other. According to the manner of articulation, consonant sounds can be classified into the following:

1. Oral Stops

In addition to the articulatory closure in the mouth, the soft palate is raised so that the nasal tract is blocked off. The airstream will be completely obstructed. Stop consonants are /p, t, k, b, d, g/.

2. Nasal stops

In nasal stops, the air is blocked in the mouth and there is a slight passage for the air to pass through the nose. That is because the soft palate moves down during producing nasal stops. Nasal stops are /n/, /m/ and /ŋ/.

3. Fricatives

Fricatives are consonants which are made while two articulators are near to each other. For instance, the sound /s/ is produced when the tip of the tongue is near to the alveolar ridge. The air escapes from the space which is between the tip of the tongue and the alveolar ridge. In these sounds, you can hear some frication or hissing. Fricatives are /f, v, θ, ð, s, z, ʃ, ʒ/

4. Affricates

Affricate sounds are made of a stop and a fricative sound. During producing the affricates, there is a complete obstruction of the airstream, followed by a gradual release of that obstruction. The gradual release gives the auditory impression of friction or hissing. Examples of affricate sounds include /tʃ, dʒ/. Although these sounds are written as two sounds each, they are considered as single entities or sounds.

5. Approximants

Approximant sounds are consonants which resemble to some extent the vowel sounds. That is, there is no complete obstruction of the airstream. The production of these sounds sound similar to those of vowel sounds. For instance, /w, j/ are considered consonants, yet they are voiced and there is no obstruction to the airstream during their production.

6. Laterals

Laterals or liquids are consonant sounds in which the airstream escapes from two sides of an articulator. These sounds are /l, r/. During producing the sound /l/, the front part of the tongue is in contact with the alveolar ridge, and the airstream escapes from the two sides of the tongue. In producing the sound /r/, the front of the tongue is raised and curled behind the alveolar ridge.

7. Trills

Trills are segments whose articulation involves the repeated rapid striking of one flexible organ against another flexible or rigid organ. An example of trills is the Spanish [rr] in perro ‘dog’.

8. Flaps

A flap consonant is a sound whose articulation involves an articulator’s being withdrawn from its rest position and then moved rapidly back to its rest position in such a way that it strikes another articulator during its trajectory. Examples of flap sounds include /ɾ, ɽ, ⱱ/.

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