Phonetics - Unit Two - Lesson No. 10

Secondary articulation

Secondary articulations occur normally at about the rank of approximants. For instance, an [f] sound with secondary palatal articulation is an [f] with a simultaneous articulation of the [i] or [j] types. As such, the [f] sound is a palatalized [f].

The only departures from the basic ranking concern nasalized and pharyngealized sounds, and lateral approximants. Any nasal articulation is regarded as secondary to any accompanying oral articulation. For example, even though the oral-nasal orifice (the nasal port) may be smaller (and therefore apparently of higher rank) than the wide oral articulatory channel of an open vowel like [æ̃] and [ɔ̃], the oral articulation is regarded as primary. These vowels (and all vowels with simultaneous airflow through the nose) are called nasalized vowels.

 There are several types of secondary articulation: labialization (e.g. on /s/ in the Dutch word 'stroop'), velarization, nasalization, pharyngealization, palatalization, laryngealization, glottalization.

Labialization is a general term referring to a secondary articulation involving any noticeable lip-rounding, as in the initial [k] of coop, or sh [ʃ]of shoe, which are here labialized, because of the influence of the labialization in the following vowel [u]. Labialization is applied both to cases where the lip-rounding is an essential feature of a sound’s identity, as in [u], and to cases where the lip-rounding is found only in specific contexts, as in the [k] example above – in kill, there is no labialization. The diacritic for labialization is [w], underneath the main symbol, but a raised [w] is often used.

Velarization is a general term referring to any secondary articulation involving a movement of the back part of the tongue towards the velum. For a sound to be velarized, of course, its primary place of articulation must be elsewhere in the mouth, e.g. a [z] sound, normally made in alveolar position, is said to be velarized if during its articulation the back of the tongue is raised towards the soft palate; this would give the sound a distinctive back (or ‘dark’) resonance.

Pharyngealization refers to any articulation involving a constriction of the pharynx. A pharyngealized [s], for example, is a secondary articulation produced by simultaneously constricting the pharynx while making the [s] articulation; the auditory result would be a sound with a somewhat central and husky resonance (transcribed []). Pharyngealized sounds are transcribed with [~] placed through the letter.

Palatalization is a general term referring to any articulation involving a movement of the tongue towards the hard palate. the primary place of articulation is elsewhere in the mouth; for example, a [t] sound, normally made in alveolar position, is said to be palatalized if during its articulation the front of the tongue is raised towards the hard palate: in the case of [t], the palatalization would be most noticeable when the plosive was released, as a palatal glide would then be heard before the onset of the next main sound. Several languages, such as Russian, have sets of palatalized consonants operating as phonemes.

Laryngealization refers to variation in the mode of vibration of the vocal folds, over and above their normal vibratory mode in the production of voice, as in creaky voice.

Glottalization is a general term for any articulation involving a simultaneous glottal constriction, especially a glottal stop. In English, glottal stops are often used in this way to reinforce a voiceless plosive at the end of a word, as in what? [wɒtʔ]. However, if the opening of the glottis is delayed until after the release of the glottalized sound, a different sound effect is created. Such sounds, made while the glottis is closed, are produced without the direct involvement of air from the lungs. Air is compressed in the mouth or pharynx above the glottal closure, and released while the breath is still held: the resultant sounds produced in this glottalic airstream mechanism are known as ejective sounds. They are also called ‘glottalic’ or glottalized sounds (though the latter term is often restricted to sounds where the glottal feature is a secondary articulation).

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