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Phonology: Analyzing the Sounds of Language. Introduction to Articulatory Phonetics: Vowels. Types of Phonemes. Phonologists distinguish between three main categories of phonemes: consonants, vowels , and diphthongs.

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phonology analyzing the sounds of language

Phonology: Analyzing the Sounds of Language

Introduction to ArticulatoryPhonetics: Vowels

types of phonemes
Types of Phonemes
  • Phonologists distinguish between three main categories of phonemes: consonants, vowels, and diphthongs.
  • As a speaker makes a vowel sound, the vocal tract is unobstructed and air leaves the lungs in a constant stream: /ɑ/, /æ/, /e/, /ɛ/, /ɪ/, /i/, /ʊ/, /u/,/o/, /ɔ/, /ə/.
  • Vowels are “sonorants”
voicing all vowels are voiced
Voicing: All vowels are voiced
  • IPA symbol chart in voiced/voiceless pairs.
  • Describes the vibration of the vocal cords.
  • Like a rubber band you can stretch taut or leave loose: if taut, it vibrates as air goes through it; if loose, it doesn’t.
vowels
Vowels
  • Vowels are described in two dimensions along with two additional properties: height, frontness/backness, and rounding, tenseness/laxness.
  • The “vowel quadrangle” mimics the position of the tongue in the mouth when a speaker articulates the vowel.
using the vowel quadrangle
Using the Vowel Quadrangle
  • The Vowel Quadrangle can help you visualize the position of your tongue when you speak.
  • /æ/ is a low, front, unrounded vowel ‘pat’
vowel quadrangle
Vowel Quadrangle

pete

Pooh

pit

put

Poe

pate

pet

paw

putt

pot

pat

diphthongs
Diphthongs

In a diphthong, the vowel sound begins at one position and “glides” to another position.

You can actually feel your jaw move as you make the sound.

eye; out; boy

phonemes and allophones
Phonemes and Allophones
  • Allophones are alternate, non-contrastive outcomes of the same phoneme. For example, how do you pronounce “Trenton”? [-ɪn] vs [-Ən]
    • For example, PDE speakers may use a variety of [r] sounds, but we hear “red” whether a speaker says [rƐd] or [ɹƐd]