The Description and classification of Consonants
Q: 1 Describe the classification of speech sounds./ consonants.
Q: 1 What is ‘structure’? Describe various strictures and show their manner in which they
Þ Variety is always welcome. It is interesting. This could be applied to speech sounds as well. Each speech sound is different to the other. Basically we have two categories: Vowels & Consonants.
Þ Consonants: There are some sounds when we produce them air escapes through the mouth with friction. Friction is there.
Þ Vowels: Some words while produced don’t make any friction. They come out freely. These are known as ‘vowels’.
Þ For the classification the following points are helpful.
(A) Air stream mechanism.
(B) Glottis position.
(C) Soft palate position
(D) Active/passive Articulator.
(A) We know air stream mechanism so all English sounds are ‘pulmonic egressive air stream mechanism’. That we know as while speaking, lung air is pushed out.
(B) Glottis position affects the sound. It shows whether vocal cords are wide open or loosely apart. If glottis and vocal cords wide open = voiceless. If vocal cord are kept loosely together = voiced.
(C) Soft palate becomes an important part. The tongue remains in touch with various palates. If soft palate is raised, nasal passage shuts down. At this time oral sounds are created. If Soft pate comes down, it open nasal passage and oral passage is closed. At this time nasalized sound are created.
(D) There are many speech parts like lips, teeth, jaw etc. At least two such parts are required to make any sound. These parts are called articulators. Some are active and some are passive. Those make movements are known as active articulators and those don’t make movements are passives articulators.
(E) Stricture means restriction. There are many organs of speech. Some of them restrict/block the air. They are of various types and depend upon the release of air. Following are the strictures’ described in terms of manners:
(1) Plosive Sounds (2) Affricate sounds (3) Nasal Sounds
(4) Fricative sounds (5) Lateral sounds (6) Approximants.
(1) Plosives sounds:-
“Sounds produced with a stricture of complete closure and sudden release are called plosives.”
Þ The soft palate is raised. Nasal passage is closed. The lungs air remains in the mouth. When mouth opens mouth air escapes through the mouth. Lung air remains. In short these sounds have complete closure and sudden release. They are known plosive because the air releases with a small explosive.
Þ “The initial sounds in the words pin, bin, tin, din, kin, and gun are plosives. i.e. /p/, /b/, /k/, /g/, /t/, /d/.
(2) Affricate sounds:-
“Sounds produced with a stricture of complete closure and slow release are called plosives.”
Þ Mouth is completely closed and after in the air is released slowly. Oral and nasal passage is blocked first and then oral passage opens slowly to push the air out. While speaking these sounds little friction (not explosive) sound is heard.
Þ “The initial sounds in the words chin and jam are affricative sounds.
(3) Nasal sounds:-
“Sounds that are articulated with a stricture of complete oral closure are called Nasals .”
Þ Oral passage complete closed. The soft palate is lowered. Nasal passage is opened. Through nostrils the air freely escapes. Thus From nose air is released that create Nasalize sounds.
Þ “The initial sounds in the words sum, sun and sung are some example of nasal consonants.
(4) Fricatives sounds:-
“Sounds that are articulated with a stricture of close approximation are called Fricatives.”
Þ The soft palate is raised. Nasal passage is shut. Lung air passes the narrow passage created between soft palate and tongues. It is almost close approximation. There is also friction which is audible. .
Þ “The initial sounds in the words five, vine, thin, sip, zip, sheep and hat are some example of fricatives consonants. i.e. /f/, /v/, /o/. /d/, /s/, /z/, /h/.
(5) Laterals sounds:-
“Sounds that are articulated with a stricture of complete closure in the centre of the vocal tract but with the air escaping along the sides of tongue without any friction are called laterals.”
Þ The soft palate is raised. Nasal passage is shut. The tongue sides are lowered. There is plenty of gap of both sides of the tongues. The air release from there freely. No friction is there. There is a sound in English which is found initially in the word ‘love’ it is /l/.
(6) Approximants sounds:-
“Sounds that are articulated with a stricture of open approximation are called frictionless continuants and semi- vowels.”
Þ The soft palate is raised. Nasal passage is shut. Wide open gap is between active and passive articulator that’s why they are open approximation, Air releases as easily as anything. There’s no friction at all. These sounds in ‘yes’ and ‘wet’ are approximants.
Thus these are the six ways to classify any consonant. They should be used in described together. One example of describing a consonant is given below. e.g. Describing /p/ in ‘spy’.
1. Pulmonic air stream is there.
2. Glottis is open. The sound is voiceless.
3. It is oral sound. Nasal passage is shut down.
4. Upper lip is active articulator.
5. Lower lip is passive articulator.
6. The stricture is one of complete closure and sudden release. So it is a plosive.