Airstream mechanisms trills
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Airstream Mechanisms + Trills. October 7, 2013. Announcements and Such. Next transcription homework is due on Wednesday. I’m in the midst of grading Production Exercise #1. You should hear something about it by tonight.

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Airstream Mechanisms + Trills

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Airstream Mechanisms + Trills

October 7, 2013

Announcements and Such

  • Next transcription homework is due on Wednesday.

  • I’m in the midst of grading Production Exercise #1.

    • You should hear something about it by tonight.

  • Production Exercise #2 (on place of articulation and airstream mechanisms) will be posted after you get comments back on Production Exercise #1.

  • By the way, let’s check out an old episode of “The Simpsons”…

  • 5. We should also check out Miriam Makeba’s “Click Song”.

Click Examples

  • Clicks can be made at five different places of articulation.

  • Languages which use clicks as contrastive sounds are exclusively found in southern and central Africa.

    • Particularly in the Khoisan languages

!Xoo Examples

  • !Xoo (spoken in Botswana) contrasts clicks at all five places of articulation

  • Note that !Xoo is also a tone language.

  • By convention, a [k] appears before all click sounds, to represent the velar closure.

Click Places

Click Cues

  • All clicks are very high in acoustic intensity

    • i.e., loud

  • Alveolar and palatal clicks have a transient (short) release

  • Dental and bilabial clicks have an affricated release

  • Lateral clicks are somewhere in between

Clicks in connected speech

  • If you listen to clicks as they are produced in a long sequence of connected speech, you may experience a phenomenon known as perceptual streaming.

  • Sound file source:

Deep Thought Questions

  • #1: Is it possible to make a voiced click?

  • Yes.

  • #2: Is it possible to make an aspirated click?

  • Sort of.

  • #3: Is it possible to make a nasal click?

  • Yes.

  • #4: Is it possible to make an ejective click?

  • Sort of.

  • Accompanying articulations may be made in conjunction with the click’s velar closure.

Zulu Clicks

  • Zulu is spoken in South Africa.

Zhu|hoasi Clicks

  • Zhu|hoasi is spoken in Namibia and Botswana.

Airstream Summary




stops, etc.



Back to Aerodynamics

  • Aerodynamic method #1: Stops

  • start air flow

    • Remember: Boyle’s Law

    • And: Air flows from high to low pressure

  • stop air flow

    • Just bring two articulators together.

  • release air flow

    • Just relax!

    • Not an explosion

    • Air pressure differences do the work

    • Release burst example: Bengali exercises

Another Aerodynamic Method

  • What kind of sound is this?

  • A Trill. A Bilabial Trill:

  • Examples from Kele and Titan

    • (Island of Manus, north of New Guinea)

How Fast?

  • Any volunteers?

  • Take a look at the waveform

  • (Note: period vs. frequency)

  • Do we close and relax our lips each time we do this?

  • No?

  • When air blows the lips apart, why don’t they stay apart?

Bernoulli Effect

  • In a flowing stream of particles:

    • the pressure exerted by the particles is inversely proportional to their velocity

  • Pressure = constant

    • velocity

  • P = k / v

  •  the higher the velocity, the lower the pressure

  •  the lower the velocity, the higher the pressure

  • Daniel Bernoulli


    Bernoulli Examples

    • Airplane wing

    • Frisbee

    • Shower Curtain

    • Pieces of paper

    • Bilabial trills!

    A Trilling Schematic

    • Lips are closed

      • adducted = brought together

    • Fad = adductive force


    upper lip

    outside of mouth

    inside of mouth

    lower lip


    Trilling: Stage 1

    • Pressure builds up inside mouth from compression of lungs

      • Pin = Air Pressure inside mouth

    • Outside pressure remains constant

      • Pout = Air Pressure outside mouth


    Pout = k



    Trilling: Stage 1

    • Pressure differential between inside and outside builds up

    • This exerts force against the lips

    P = (Pin - Pout )


    Pout = k



    Trilling: Stage 2

    • Pressure differential blows open lips

    • Air rushes from high to low pressure


    Pout = k




    Trilling: Stage 2

    • The opening of the lips means:

    • P decreases slightly

    • High velocity of air flowing between lips

    • Air pressure decreases between lips (Bernoulli Effect)


    Pout = k




    Trilling: Stage 3

    • Lips get sucked back together


    Pout = k



    Trilling: Back to Stage 1

    • If air is still flowing out of lungs, pressure will rise again within mouth

    • Process will repeat itself as long as air is pushed up from lungs and lips are held lightly against each other


    Pout = k



    Trilling: Back to Stage 1

    • Air rushes through the lips in a series of short, regular bursts




    Other Trills

    • Alveolar trills: [r]

    • Examples from Kele and Titan

    • Uvular trills:

    • Pour example: Edith Piaf

    • Any other places of articulation for trills?

    Voicing = Glottal Trills

    • Voicing occurs when:

      • air rushes up from the lungs

      • the vocal folds are brought together (adducted)

    Creaky Voicing

    • The flow of air from the lungs forces the vocal folds to open and close.

    • The slowest type of voicing is called “creaky voice.”

    Modal Voice

    • This is normal, or “modal” voicing. The rate of glottal trilling is considerably faster.

    • How fast do you think the vocal folds open and close in normal voicing?

    Vocal Fold Specs

    • In bilabial trills, lips open and close 25 times a second

    • In modal voicing, the glottal trill cycle recurs, on average:

    • 120 times a second for men

    • 220 times a second for women

    • 300+ times a second for children

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