PHYSICAL PROPERTIES OF SPEECH SOUNDS. We have concentrated for the most part on the articulatory description of speech sounds. We describe consonants and vowels, the basic units of speech sounds, along several parameters: . Articulatorily, consonants are described using three main parameters:.
Besides those articulatory parameters, we can hear and study sounds based on their physically quantifiable features
Speech as we have discovered is a continuous flow of varying air pressure
Variations in air pressure in the form of sound waves move through the air somewhat like ripples and on reaching the ear cause the eardrum to vibrate
A display of a wave may not give a clue as to the exact nature of the sound.
In speech production the vibrating vocal cords acts as the sound source
The frequency associated with the vibrating vocal cords is called FUNDAMENTAL FREQUENCY (F0) = PITCH (AUDITORILY)
THE RANGE OF HUMAN VOCAL CORD VIBRATION IS BETWEEN 50HZ – 500HZ
PIE *gwows “cow” > Anglo-Saxon cu; Gk bous
*gwiwos “living” > AS cwic; Gk. bios
Modern English: post-vocalic /l/ (a [+flat] allophone of /l/) has disappeared or is disappearing in [+grave] environments:
walk, yolk, palm,
not in [-grave] environments: felt, silt,
See also: Ohala & Lorentz 1977 “The story of [w]” BLS 3.
[+flat] sounds are labialized, retroflexed, uvularized, pharyngealized (vis-à-vis other sounds with otherwise identical feature composition, e.g., /i/ = [-flat]; [y] = [+flat])
Prediction: no language will make us of [+flat] in more than one of the above articulatory ways, e.g., no uvualrs plus retroflexes; if retroflexes, then no uvulars; if distinctive rounding, then no retroflexes, etc. This claim is not absolutely true but it is valid statistically. There is no basis for this claim with a purely articulatory descriptive system.