Linguistics week 6
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Linguistics week 6. Phonetics 4. Parameters for describing consonants. So far (this is not complete yet) we have Airstream (usually the same for all consonants) Place of articulation Voicing Manner of articulation So, [p] is … egressive pulmonic bilabial voiceless plosive

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Linguistics week 6

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Linguistics week 6

Linguistics week 6

Phonetics 4

Parameters for describing consonants

Parameters for describing consonants

  • So far (this is not complete yet) we have

    • Airstream (usually the same for all consonants)

    • Place of articulation

    • Voicing

    • Manner of articulation

  • So, [p] is …

    • egressive pulmonic

    • bilabial

    • voiceless

    • plosive

  • This was what I was expecting in the quiz!

Affricates in mandarin

Affricates in Mandarin

  • /tsʰ/ and /ts/

  • /tʂʰ/ and /tʂ/

  • /tɕʰ/ and /tɕ/

    • Can you guess what they are?

    • What is the ʰ?

  • ㄘ and ㄗ

  • ㄔ and ㄓ(retroflex affricate)

  • ㄐ and ㄑ(alveolo-palatal affricate)



  • Aspirated and unaspirated consonants

    • ㄅ is unaspirated [p]

      • Voicing for the next sound (a vowel) begins immediately after plosion

    • ㄆ is aspirated [ph] (puff of air)

      • Vocal folds remain open briefly, after the stop is released

  • English: spit vs pit (aspiration difference)

  • Aspiration is much less important in English than in Chinese

    • Can you explain why?

Because aspiration in mandarin is phonemic also tone in mandarin is phonemic

Because aspiration in Mandarin is phonemic (also, tone in Mandarin is phonemic)

  • pʰand p are two different phones; two different sounds

  • but in Mandarin they are different phonemes

    • /pʰa/ (ㄆㄚ) and /pa/ (ㄅㄚ) represent different meanings

    • in English pʰand p do not help to distinguish meaning

    • There are no minimal pairs like pʰa and pa

Ipa approximants all voiced

IPA: approximants (all voiced)

  • An approximant

    • occurs as a consonant in syllabic patterning (CVC)

    • but, it’s like a vowel, because the articulators usually don’t touch.

  • 2 common realizations of /r/ (in addition to the trills described earlier)

    • [ɻ] retroflex approximant of Mandarin

    • [ɹ] alveolar approximant of English

  • A palatal approximant [j], often corresponding to the English spelling “y”

  • A labial (=with rounded lips) velar approximant [w]

  • Then there is a lateral approximant [l]

    • Lateral = “side”, that is where the obstruction is

Mandarin sounds

Mandarin sounds


Vowels vs consonants

Vowels vs consonants

  • Consonants

    • There is some obstruction in the vocal tract (=the mouth or throat)

  • Vowels

    • There is no such obstruction (the air flows freely)

Regional accent variation

Regional accent variation

  • English accents

    • The consonants are generally the same

    • The vowels are often very different

  • Mandarin Chinese accents

    • Pronunciation of consonants often varies widely according to region

Describing vowels

Describing vowels

  • Say [i] followed by [æ] (like cat)

    • Think about where your tongue is

    • Look in a mirror

    • What changes? What can you say about the position of the tongue in the two cases?

  • This is one of the parameters of vowel description

Another parameter

Another parameter

  • Now compare [ɑ] (father) with [æ] (like cat)

  • You can also try comparing the vowels in ㄢ and ㄤ

  • Notice any difference?

  • This is the second distinguishing parameter (factor)

The third parameter

The third parameter

  • Compare 四 with 速

  • Or more straightforwardly, compare ㄧ with ㄩ

    • The difference should be quickly apparent

So the 3 parameters are

So, the 3 parameters are…

The ipa vowel chart

This is a stylized representation of the inside of the mouth

It shows

the cardinal vowels

marked by black dots

and the approximate position of vowels common in many languages

The next slide shows the position of English vowels on the same kind of chart

The IPA vowel chart

British american


This week s homework

This week’s homework

  • Sound description, recording and animation. Take a look at and click on “English library”.

  • Read about vowels again (page 48ff). What are the parameters for describing vowels (like voicing, airstream etc with consonants)?



  • Yule describes these as a vowel + an approximant (p49) so /bajt/; /bawt/

  • We can also say there are two vowels involved

    • an initial vowel, in “bite” or ㄞ = a

    • a target vowel, in “bite” or ㄞ = I

    • the tongue moves towards I

    • but doesn’t actually reach its target

    • Check the cool website for a demo

Midterm exam

Midterm exam

  • On 20th November, there is a midterm exam. You can expect questions on:

    • Anything I talked about in class

    • Anything on these slides

    • Anything from the web resources I referred you to

    • Anything from Yule, in the sections related to what we covered in class

  • For some questions, you will write a short answer of a few words, maybe a number, maybe a symbol

  • For other questions, you will write a short paragraph.

  • You will get a half credit for anything you write in Chinese

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