Phonetics the branch of linguistics that studies the sounds of speech.
•Transcription: how speech sounds can be written down
•Branches of phonetics:
•articulatory phonetics: how sounds are produced
•acoustic phonetics: the physical properties of sound waves produced in speech
•auditory phonetics: how sounds are heard and perceived
Articulation and Acoustics
Primary vocal organs:
Lungs source of moving air
Trachea connection between the lungs and the vocal tract
Larynx (sound source) the larynx (sometimes called the voicebox) contains:
o vocal folds the opening between the vocal folds is known as the glottis.
o vocal tract (sound filters) pharynx, oral cavity, tongue, velum (soft palate), and nasal
vocal tract: made up of oral tract and nasal tract
articulators: the part of the vocal tract that can be used to form sounds (tongue and lips)
4 main components of speech production:
airstream process: includes all the ways of pushing air out (and, as we will see later, of sucking it
in) that provide the power for speech
phonation process: name given to the actions of the vocal folds (vocal folds are
vibratingvoiced, and sounds in which they are apartvoiceless
oro-nasal process: determines the possibility of the airstream going out through the mouth, as
in [ v ] or [ z ], or the nose, as in [ m ] and [ n ]
articulatory process: the movements of the tongue and lips interacting with the roof of the
mouth and the pharynx
1 2 Sounds are divided into two major categories: consonants and vowels.
•Vowels sounds produced with no major obstruction in the vocal tract so that air can flow relatively
freely through the mouth.
•Consonants produced with some constriction in the vocal tract so that there is some obstruction in
the flow of air out of the mouth.
Consonants are classified according to three dimensions:
place (of articulation)
manner (of articulation)
refers to the activity of the vocal folds
•If the vocal folds are close enough together so that they vibrate during the articulation of a sound, the
sound is voiced. (eg. v in vat)
•If the vocal folds are held far enough apart that air can pass through without creating vibration, the
sound is voiceless. (eg. f in fat)
Place of Articulation
soft palate (velum)
3 Lower articulators:
lower lip (labial)
o tip (apex)
o blade (lamina) tip + blade = coronal
o back (dorsum) body + back + root = dorsal
Place of articulation
refers to where in the vocal tract, and with what articulators, the constriction is made.
4 Manner of Articulation
Stops – formed with complete closure and no air passing through the vocal tract
o Oral Stops (plosives): complete closure in the nasal cavity, raised velum and air passing
through the mouth
o Nasal Stops (nasals): complete closure in the oral cavity, lowered velum and air passing
through the nasal cavity
Fricatives – formed with a constriction narrow enough to cause friction
Approximants – formed with a constriction that is not narrow enough to make frication
Laterals – complete closure at the center and approximation of articulators at one or both sides
of the vocal tract
Affricates – complete closure with a fricative release
Relevant to vowel production are:
Tongue height (high/mid/low)
Lip position (round/unround)
tense/lax (tension of the vocal tract muscles)
•Variation in air pressure caused by vocal organs results in sound waves.
•Hearing sounds is a result of vibration of ear drum by sound waves in the air.
• Frequency (Hz)
• Amplitude (dB)
p roperties of speech that apply to larger units than individual segments (consonants/vowels):
Careful vs. Connected Speech
•Phonetics uses special symbols for sounds – transcribes sounds
•IPA (International Phonetic Association/Alphabet)
•Diacritics: marks added to the main phonetic symbols to modify their values; little symbols
(eg. tiny h for aspiration)
Phoneme vs. Allophone
- Phoneme: sounds that are contrastive in a given language, can create a difference in meaning.
Referred to in broad transcription (broad transcription: just include the phonemes)
-Allophone: variants of a phoneme. Do not create a contrast in meaning. Referred to in narrow
transcription (narrow transcription: narrows down to a particular pronunciation)
Brackets (slash vs. square):
•/ / with phonemes or broad transcription
•* + with allophones or narrow transcription
In English, the orthography does not correspond to the pronunciation
Eg. /ʃ/ sure /ʒ/ pleasure /s/ sin
/ɹ/ corn /ʃ/ ship /ʒ/ closure /tʃ/ cheap
/dʒ/ jeep /θ/ thick /ð/ they /ŋ/ king
Transcription of vowels:
•Monophthongs: no significant change in quality throughout production (consists of just a vowel)
Eg. he /hi/
•Diphthongs: involves movement from one vowel to another (two symbols are used)
Eg. hay /heɪ/
6 English Consonant Chart
English Vowel Chart
7 Aspiration: tie vs. die vs. sty [ ʰ]
For voiced stops, the closure is shorter
•Shorter vowels before voiceless fricatives:
rice [raɪs] vs. rise [raɪz]
8 •Devoiced final fricatives:
prove it vs. improve
[˳] diacritic used to indicate devoicing
NOTE: word in English starts with *ŋ+
•Central approximants: *ɹ], [w], [j]
Eg. rack, whack, yak
•Lateral approximant: *l+
•Liquids: *ɹ], [l]
•Glides: *w+, *j+
•*w+ vs. *ʍ]
Eg. witch [wɪʧ] vs. which [ʍɪʧ]
Ex. leaf [lif]
• /ɹ/ can be pronounced in two ways, intra-speaker free variation
1. the tongue tip is curled up and back towards the back of the alveolar ridge – retroflex
2. the tongue tip is down and the tongue body is up and back - bunched
9 Overlapping Gestures
sometimes we must rely on the context to know what the speaker is saying
•that’s a straight issue.
•that’s a stray tissue.
•that’s a straight tissue.
•Articulators overlap results in shortening of the first consonant in a sequence of two identical
consonants. (Eg. straight tissue)
Allophones of English Consonants
Phonemes and Allophones:
1. A phoneme – contrastive in a language; minimal pairs, difference in meaning
2. Allophone – a member of a phoneme family
Ex. pete /pit/ beat /bit/ phonemes /p/ and /b/
pit [phɪt] spit [spɪt] allophones [p] and [ph]
allophonic [pʰ] [p]
Broad and Narrow Transcription
1. Broad transcription: no allophones or allophonic details are presented /p/
2. Narrow transcription: allophones and allophonic details are presented [p] & [pʰ] allophones
Consonantal Allophonic Processes (12)
Voiceless stops are aspirated at the beginning of a stressed syllable, when followed by a vowel or an
approximants are devoiced after /p, t, k/ (aspirated)
voiced obstruents are devoiced word-finally (partial devoicing)
/l/ is velarized in the syllable coda (or in the case of a syllabic l, the nucleus) or before velars
/t d/ becomes a tap/flap [ɾ] between two vowels when the second vowel is not stressed
Ex. bitten: /bɪtən/ [bɪɾən]
City: /sIti/ [sɪɾi]
NOTE: (In some dialects of English, a glottal stop [ʔ] is produced instead of a flap. e.g. beaten [biʔn]. We
only use flapping rule in this course)
velar stops are produced with an articulation more forward in the oral cavity when followed by a front
all consonants are pronounced with lip-rounding before rounded vowels
/ʃ ʒ ʧ ʤ/ are produced with lip rounding in any context, always (inherent rounding)
Eg. sheet [ʃwit]
Inaudible Release or No Release
oral stops are unreleased word-finally
Ex. d in said
Homorganic Nasal Assimilation
Nasals assimilate in place of articulation to the following consonant (consists of two morphemes)
11 Ex. m in pamphlet
Alveolar consonants /t d n l/ are realized as dentals before (inter)dental fricatives
Ex. the n in tenth becomes dental
When two oral stops (plosives) occur next to each other, the closure for the second stop is formed
before the closure for the first stop
Ex. in contempt, the coarticulation symbol is on the pt
Syllabic Nasals and Liquids
/n, m, ɹ, l/ are syllabic at the end of the word immediately after a consonant.
Eg. leaden [lɛɾn]
Alveolars assimilate to the preceding retroflex /ɹ/
(t, d, s, z, n, l) they get the little curvy things on the end
rules that determine where sounds can occur and how sounds can be combined
•There are restrictions on where some consonants can occur.
Ex. *ŋ+ can only occur at the end of a syllable as in fling [flɪŋ+ or before velars as in sink [sɪŋk+;
[h] occurs only at the beginning of a syllable as in ham [hæm].
12 Some more allophonic variation in English consonants
Allophones of /h/: [ɦ] [ç]
•/h/ is realized as a *ɦ] when in occurs between vowels.
•*ɦ] is a murmured version of the following vowel produced with some vocal fold vibration but with the
vocal folds still far enough apart to allow a lot of air through.
•The voiceless palatal fricative *ç+ is an allophone of /h/ that occurs before /j/ as in
Eg. human [ˈçju.mǝn]
across word boundaries, /j/ coalesces with alveolar obstruents and causes a type of palatalization:
get you /gɛt ju/ [ˈgɛʧʊ]
miss you /mɪs ju/ [ˈmɪʃʊ]
Primary and Secondary Stress
▪ All words have primary stress: usually louder, more prominent syllable
▪ Longer words might also have a secondary stresses
▪ Sometimes, for words that have secondary stress, English speakers may find that some allophonic
processes that are dependent on stress are less likely to happen; e.g. flapping or aspiration
Vowels are described in terms of:
backness: front, central, or back
active articulator: the front, central or back part of the tongue
Eg. front: beat, back: boot, central: but
height: high, mid, or low
13 active articulator: (front/central/back part of the tongue) is positioned high, mid or low
Eg. high: beat, low: bat/bought, mid: bet
rounding: rounded or unrounded (all of the non-low back vowels are rounded in English)
active articulator: the lips
i.Rounded: boot ii.Unrounded: spread beat
Monophthongs and Diphthongs
Simple Vowels (Monophthongs)
NOTE: ignore mirrored/backwards a
consist of a sequence of two vowels (or a simple vowel & a glide).
/eɪ/ bait (ej) /oʊ/ boat (ow)
/aɪ/ bite (aj) /ɔɪ/ boy (oj)
/aʊ/ loud (aw)
NOTE ON VOWELS: In Canadian English: caught and cot are both /kɑt/ (not true in every English dialect)
Unless before /r/(upside down r) eg. port
Mid central vowels ə
•Schwa, *ǝ], is a mid, central, unrounded vowel that occurs in unstressed syllables.
Other vowels are often reduced to schwa in unstressed positions.
•Caret, *ʌ], is also a mid, central, unrounded vowel and the two vowels sound very similar.
We will use…
[ʌ] to transcribe a mid, central vowel that occurs in stressed position
[ǝ] to transcribe a mid, central vowel in unstressed position.
15 Tense vs. Lax
•Muscles of the vocal tract are tense (tongue and/or lips)
Eg. tense: beat, lax: bit/pit
•Tense vowels: i, eɪ, aɪ, aʊ, u, oʊ, ɑ, ɔɪ*
•Lax vowels: ɪ, ɛ, æ, ʌ, ʊ, ǝ
* Book p.99: /ɔɪ/ is not a lax vowel, it’s a tense vowel.
Tense vowels are inherently longer than lax
•Tense vowels can occur in open (ending in V) or closed syllables (ending in C).
•Lax vowels can only occur in closed syllables.
•Schwa (*ǝ]) is exceptional in this respect. It is a lax vowel which can occur in open syllables as well.
Reduced Vowels /ə ɪ/
/ə/, the neutral vowel is reduced
• In unstressed syllables - /ə/
• In stressed syllables - before /ɹ/
/I/ can occur instead of schwa next to coronal sounds