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Sounds of English . Class 2. Sounds of English. Consonants: first, the stops: b as in bat, sob , cubby d as in date, hid, ado g as in gas, lag, ragged p as in pet, tap, repeat t as in tap, pet, attack k as in king, pick, picking. When we need to emphasize

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sounds of english1
Sounds of English

Consonants: first, the stops:

  • b as in bat, sob, cubby
  • d as in date, hid, ado
  • g as in gas, lag, ragged
  • p as in pet, tap, repeat
  • t as in tap, pet, attack
  • k as in king, pick, picking

When we need to emphasize

that we are using a phonetic

transcription, we put square

brackets [b] around the symbols.

more consonants fricatives
More consonants: fricatives
  • f as in fail, life
  • v as in veil, live
  • Ɵ as in thin, wrath
  • ð as in this, bathe
  • s as in soft, miss
  • z as in zoo, as
  • š (American) or ʃ (IPA) as in shame, mash
  • ž (American) or ǯ (IPA)as in triage, garage, azure,
  • h as in help, vehicular
  • č (American) or tʃ (IPA) as in cheap, hatch
  • ǰ (American) or ʤ(IPA) as in jump, hedge
nasal consonants
nasal consonants
  • m as in map, him
  • n as in knot, tin (alveolar POA)
  • ñ as in canyon
  • ŋ as in sing, gingham, dinghy
  • l as in large, gull
  • r as in red, jar
glides and semi consonants
glides and semi-consonants
  • j (IPA) as in boy, yellow
  • w as in wall, cow
6 stops
  • 2 affricates
  • 9 fricatives
  • 4 nasals
  • 2 liquids
  • 2 glides
short vowels
Front vowels:

I as in bit

Ɛ as in bet

æ as in bat

Back vowels:

U as in put

ʌ as in putt

ɔ as in bought

a or ɑ as in Mott, ma, spot

ǝ“schwa” as in about

Short vowels
long vowels
Long vowels
  • ij or i as in beet
  • ej as in bait
  • aj as in bite
  • oj as in boy
  • uw or u as in boot
  • ow as in boat
  • aw as in how
not all americans talk the same way
Not all Americans talk the same way
  • Some people do not have a contrast between [ɔ] and [a]:
  • cot versus caught
  • Sean versus Connery.
  • There are (interesting) details we are ignoring, like the difference between the vowel in cat and that in sand, for most Americans.
  • There are far more differences than that, of course!
review where we ve been
Review where we’ve been
  • We’ve listened to the sounds of “our” English, and assigned a set of symbols to them.
  • We abstracted away from pitch, loudness, and duration.
  • We hope to better understanding our language’s sounds by analyzing them as being composed of a sequence of identifiable sounds, each of which occurs frequently in words of the language.
  • Consonants = obstruents + sonorants
    • Obstruents: (oral) stops, affricates, and fricatives
    • Sonorants: nasals and liquids (l,r)

Consonants can be defined by:

Point of articulation (or “place”): Specification of the active and passive articulators.

Manner of articulation:

Oral stop; nasal stop; fricative; affricate; lateral; flap; approximant; and some others.

consonants have a point of articulation
Consonants have a point of articulation

The crucial points of articulation for English consonants are:

  • Labial
  • Labio-dental
  • Dental
  • Alveolar: at the alveolar ridge, behind the teeth
  • Post-alveolar/palato-alveolar/alveopalatal: multiple names for the same thing
  • Retroflex (r only)
  • Palatal (y, ñ)
  • Velar
  • Laryngeal

Places of articulation: labial

  • Bilabial: made with two lips

(pie, buy, my)

  • Labiodental: lower tip and

Upper front teeth (fie, vie).

Slide from Liberman and Yuan


Places of articulation: coronal

  • Dental: tongue tip or blade and upper front teeth (thigh, thy). (interdental: the tip of the tongue protrudes between the upper and the lower front teeth).
  • Alveolar: tongue tip or blade and the alveolar ridge (tie, die, nigh, sigh, zeal, lie).
  • Retroflex: tongue tip and back of the alveolar ridge (rye, row, ray).
  • Palato-Alveolar (post-alveolar): tongue blade and the back of the alveolar ridge (shy, she, show).

Slide from Liberman and Yuan


Places of articulation: dorsal

  • Palatal: front of the tongue and hard palate (you). Palatal sounds are sometimes classified as coronal.
  • Velar: back of the tongue and the soft palate (hack, hag, hang).

Slide from Liberman and Yuan


Oro-nasal process

[From: Dan Jurafsky slide]

Oral sounds: soft palate

is raised (closing the passage).

Nasal sound: soft palate is

lowered, so air passes through

the nose.

manners of articulation
Manners of articulation
  • Stop
  • Fricative: near closure, creating frication (heavy air turbulence)
  • Affricate (combined stop and fricative)
  • Approximant (no turbulence) (y,w,r)
  • Lateral approximant (l) obstruction in the middle, air passage around the side of the tongue.
  • Tap or flap: American symbol [D], IPA [ɾ]
  • 6 stops
  • 9 fricatives
  • 2 affricates
  • Nasals (4)
  • 2 other sonorants (what are they?)
  • 2 glides
  • Vowels are harder to characterize articulatorily, but we try!
  • The fact that it’s harder is reflected in the fact that there is more than one way in which it’s done. IPA is one way; American is another.
Vowels are displayed in a two-dimensional chart, corresponding only roughly to the position of the tongue, and the first two formants of the vowel.
  • Plus: whether the lips are rounded
  • Monophthong or diphthong (no movement, or movement)



/i/ green

/ae/ hat

/u/ boot

graphics thanks to

Kevin Russell, Univ of Manitoba


“Hi” /haj/


we were away a year ago