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Get Rid of your Accent

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It includes information on the articulation of consonants as well as techniques showing how to pronounce vowels.

January 11, 2016



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January 05, 2016

Manners of Articulation - The Complete List (with Examples)

It's often challenging to know how sounds of language are articulated just by listening to them.

As it so happens, the Manners and Places of articulation give you a lot of information about the articulation of a sound which would otherwise go unnoticed.

Well, you’re in for a treat, because I'm going to give you an up-to-date and comprehensive list of all the manners of articulation. I've also added examples in English and in other languages when none were present in English.

Nasals

First, there are the nasal consonants.

The distinctive feature of nasal consonants is that you let air out of your nose as you pronounce them.

Nasal Manner of Articulation

For example, the nasal consonants [m] and [n] are quite common in languages and are certainly found in English.

Let's take a word that starts with M in English such as man.

Pronounce only the M in man and put your finger right in front of your nostrils. You should feel some air coming out.

This tells you that there is an element of nasality to this consonant sound.

For nonnasal consonant sounds, there may be a bit of air coming out of the nose, but the flow of air is more pronounced with nasal consonants (and nasal vowels, for that matter).

Let's move on to the plosives.

Plosives or Stops

There are quite a few plosives in English.

Basically, these are consonants where air is blocked at the place of articulation to accumulate pressure and it is then released in one instant.

Stop Manner of Articulation

Just pronounce words with D's, B's and K's and you'll notice the single pulse of air being ejected as you pronounce these letters.

Here are a few words so that you can check for yourself: bag, gap, lack.

Sibilance

Sibilance is not a manner of articulation by itself on the chart.

So, why are we talking about it here?

Because it's something that characterizes certain affricates and certain fricatives, which we'll see next. Sibilant consonants are distinctive as they are louder and at a higher frequency.

The high frequency sound is very similar to TV or radio static. Just pronounce a very long S and you'll get what I mean.

In case you still don't, watch the full 10 hours of this YouTube video and I'm sure you'll understand:

(I was kidding about the 10 hours! A few seconds should be fine.)

Sibilant Affricates

Affricates can be viewed as a combination of two sounds which are pronounced pretty much simultaneously. Often, in phonetic transcriptions, the two sounds will be joined by a tie bar like this: [ ͡   ].

In sibilant affricates, it's usually the sound on the right that is sibilant. Two examples of sibilant affricates in English are [t͡ʃ] and [d͡ʒ].

The ch in the word change represents the sound [t͡ʃ] while the g in the same word is pronounced [d͡ʒ].

Non-sibilant Affricates

Unlike in sibilant affricates, the sound on the right in non-sibilant affricates lacks sibilance.

In other words, it doesn't have the radio static-like aspect to it.

The best example I can come up with is in New York English. If you ever get the chance, notice how they pronounce the word tooth. The th sound at the end is pronounced [t̪͡θ].

If you want to hear what a non-sibilant affricate is right now, listen to this guy for a bit. Some of his th sounds in words like that and this sound like [d̪͡ð]:

Sibilant Fricatives

Next up are the fricatives.

The distinctive feature of fricatives is that, when producing them, you use your vocal apparatus to partially block the airflow at the place of articulation in such a way that only some air passes through.

Fricative Manner of Articulation

By restraining the airflow, it creates some friction between the air and your vocal apparatus which is what produces the distinctive kind of sound of the fricatives.

Sibilant fricatives are characterized by louder and higher frequency sounds than non-sibilant fricatives. These are the sounds found in a words like show and season.

Non-sibilant Fricatives

Non-sibilant fricatives are essentially the same except that the sound is not as intense.

To hear that difference, compare the sibilant fricative sounds of show and season with the th in this and the f in fine.

Approximants

Approximants can be considered half way between vowels and fricatives.

When pronouncing an approximant, the air flows smoothly through the vocal apparatus so that very little friction is created.

Here are two approximants in Standard American English: [ɹ], represented by the letter R and [j], represented by the letter Y, usually.

Approximant ɹ Approximant j

(Source: http://www.phon.ucl.ac.uk/courses/plin/plin2108/week5.php)

Notice how there's not quite contact at the place of articulation?

This is what results in the smoothness of the airflow.

Some examples of words with approximants in Standard American English are yet and rat.

Taps or Flaps

Taps are similar to plosives, but a tap is a single brief burst with little accumulation of pressure at the place of articulation which results in a contact time that is usually much less.

Compared to taps, more pressure is accumulated to produce plosives, which results in a tendency for them to have longer contact time, especially before the sound is actually produced.

That is not possible for taps; the contact lasts about only as long as the sound itself.

Standard American English does have a tap consonant: [ɾ].

It can be heard in words like bedding and pity.

Trills

Trills are, in turn, similar to taps, but instead of a single brief burst at the place of articulation, it is a series of repeated bursts.

There are no trills in Standard American English, but if you've ever heard some Spanish, you might have noticed that some of their R's are trills.

The classic example of the trill in Spanish is found in the word carro. It is sometimes called the rolled R and it is represented by [r]:

There are also other types of trills. Below is an example of a trill using both lips (fictitious). The video is meant as a comedy, but you should get a sense of what a trill is:

The air flows continuously when producing trills, unlike with taps.

Laterals

The key feature of laterals is that the airflow passes to the sides (of the tongue, usually) when pronouncing them.

If your native language uses the Latin alphabet, chances are that the L in it is a lateral.

The only sound in Standard American English which is a lateral, to my knowledge, is [ɫ] (also known as the "dark" L) and sometimes [l] (depending on who is pronouncing and of the position of the L in the syllable).

Here are a few examples in Standard American English: lake and bell.

Let's now proceed to the Places of articulation.