A contrastive analysis of consonants of English and Turkish languages
Comparative analysis and classification of English and Turkish consonant system. Peculiarities of consonant systems and their equivalents and opposites in the modern Turkish language. Similarities and differences between the consonants of these languages.
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A contrastive analysis of consonants of English and Turkish languages
Chapter 1. Consonant systems of English and Turkish languages
1.1 Classification of English consonant system
1.2 Classification of Turkish consonant system
Chapter 2. General similarities and differences of the consonant sounds in English and Turkish
The study of language has been a constant preoccupation with more or less professional researchers for thousands of years. Since the earliest times, much before the birth of linguistics as a distinct scholarly discipline, people have been aware of the essential role language plays not only in their everyday life, but also as a characteristic feature of mankind, radically differentiating human beings from other species of the animal kingdom.
The fact that language acts as a fundamental link between ourselves and the world around us and that in the absence of language our relation to the universe and to our fellows is dramatically impaired is something that people have been (at least intuitively) aware of since the beginning of history. Suffice it to mention that different cultures seem to associate speech problems with intellectual deficiencies. The origin of language (believed to be divine in most ancient cultures), the relation between language and thinking, the question if we can think without the help of language (and if we can, what kind of thinking is that), the manner in which human beings (who are not, obviously, born with the ability to speak, but have, however, an innate capacity for language acquisition) come, with an amazing rapidity, to successfully use language, beginning with the very first stages of their existence (the acquisition of language actually parallels the birth of the child's self-consciousness and the latter can hardly be imagined without the former) have puzzled researchers for centuries and none of these questions has actually received a satisfactory and universally accepted answer.
Language is obviously the main system available for us, not only for knowing the world and understanding it, but also for accumulating, storing and communicating information. Language can thus be understood as the main system we have for communicating among us. All the other systems of conveying information are actually based on this essential, fundamental one. Communication by means of language can thus be understood as a complex process actually consisting of several stages. Any act of communication basically takes place between two participants: on the one hand we have the source of the information, the person who has to communicate something, the sender of the message that contains the information, and on the other hand we need a second party, the recipient, the addressee of the message, the beneficiary of the communication act, in other words the person(s) to whom the information contained in the message is addressed. Since the sender has to convey a message, and the transmission is to take place on the basis of a system of signs (a code), the first thing the sender has to do is to encode or codify his message, in other words to render the contents of the message by means of the signs of the respective code (the language) .The next stage is obviously represented by the transmission of the message proper, which can be achieved in several ways (depending of the type of communication; e.g. written or oral). Once the message reaches the recipient, the process should unfold in the opposite direction. That is, the message gets to the recipient in an encoded form so that the recipient has to decode it and grasp its meaning.
The importance of sounds as vehicles of meaning is something people have been aware of for thousands of years. However, systematic studies on the speech sounds only appeared with the development of modern sciences Jakobson, R. & L. Waugh (1979). The sound shape of language. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.. The term phonetics used in connection with such studies comes from Greek and its origins can be traced back to the verb phфnein, to speak, in its turn related to phфnз, sound. The end of the 18th century witnessed a revival of the interest in the studying of the sounds of various languages and the introduction of the term phonology Ohala, J. J. (1986). Consumer's guide to evidence in phonology. The latter comes to be, however, distinguished from the former only more than a century later with the development of structuralism which emphasizes the essential contrastive role of classes of sounds which are labeled phonemes. The terms continue to be used, however, indiscriminately until the prestige of phonology as a distinct discipline is finally established in the first half of the 20th century. Though there is no universally accepted point of view about a clear-cut border line between the respective domains of phonetics and phonology as, indeed, we cannot talk about a phonological system ignoring the phonetic aspects it involves and, on the other hand, any phonetic approach should take into account the phonological system that is represented by any language, most linguists will agree about some fundamental distinctions between the two.
A great interest to compare studying of languages of different structures by scientists is explained first of all that it can help to ascertain general and regular rules of language communication. This diploma paper is devoted to comparative analysis of consonant systems of English and Turkish languages.
When compare the analysis we outcome of that fact that the languages being the most important means of communication and first of all appears in sound speech. That is why the study of foreign languages begins with the creation of pronouncing skills.
However possession of new pronouncing skillss is accompanied by some difficulties caused by means of interference, i.e. unconscious transference pronouncing norms of native language to pronouncing norms of studying language.
A teacher who is aware of interference of native language has a possibility to prevent mistakes, to work out effective system of preventive exercises, which can foresee the mistakes, when the sounds coincide a teacher can use the skills of positive transference of norm of native language.
The novelty of the study. Novelty of the diploma work is that it adds some details to what was studied before. This theme is actual for today and will always be. Many linguists are interested in the features of consonant systems in English and their equivalents and opposites in the Turkish language. Due to the analysis which is used in this diploma work to determine the features of consonant systems and to reveal their equivalents in the Turkish language, it is possible to notice the differences and peculiarities of consonant sounds and the way of their transference into the Turkish language.
The subject of the study is peculiarities of consonant systems and their equivalents and opposites in the Modern Turkish language.
Compare studying of the peculiarities of native and studying languages has a great significance when teaching.
Actuality of this theme is that practice of English pronunciation, especially on the primary level.
When comparing any languages, if the languages of one group or different, similar or opposite features are appeared. The results of comparative linguistic analysis help to prevent on the scientific level the possibilities of interference and foresee the forecast of possible mistakes.
From the very beginning of studying the language it is very important to watch thoroughly for a learner to pronounce the sounds, to have a right intonation. It is impossible to miss any wrong pronunciation of sounds. It is almost impossible to correct wrong pronunciation at the end of studying. That is why the primary stage in pronunciation of foreign language is the most important.
It is known that English belongs to German group of Indo-European languages and Turkish belongs to the Turkic branch of the Altaic language family are different from one another by their sound characteristics. It plays a great role in the method of language teaching.
The purpose of this diploma paper is the study of theoretical basis of English phonetics, comparing with the theoretical basis of Turkish phonetics, to make comparative analysis of consonant systems in modern English and Turkish languages.
The English language gradually becomes one of the most widely used languages in the world. There are large numbers of students in institutions of higher and further education who are learning English for many purposes: as the medium of the literature and culture of English-speaking countries; for access to scholarly and technological publications; to qualify as English teachers, translators, or interpreters; to improve their chances of employment or promotion in such areas as tourist trade, international progammes for economic or military aid. In countries where it is a second language, English is commonly used as the medium for higher education, at least for scientific and technological subjects.
Advantage of this diploma paper is that it will be useful both to teachers, and to students. In teaching activity it can be applied in studying of such courses as practical course of translation, theoretical course of translation, practicum on culture of speech communication, etc. The analysis made in this diploma work will help to predict mistakes while speaking, will help to practical exercises for development of skills of phonetics.
The main task is to make comparative analysis of consonant systems in modern English and Turkish languages, find similarities and differences between English and Turkish consonant systems, to define difficulties which encounter the students while reading the consonant phonemes, which are necessary to overcome, and also to study the theoretical basis of English phonetics and compare them with the theoretical basis of Turkish in order to understand the structure of Modern English language.
The structure of the degree work. The present diploma work consists of the introduction, two chapters, the conclusion and bibliography and references.
The introduction explains the actuality, the novelty and the subject of the study as well as the objective and tasks, the theoretical and practical value of the study; enumerates the methods of research.
Chapter I is devoted to the English consonant system and their classification as well as the consonant systems of Turkish language and their classification It includes the survey of various classifications of consonant. At the end of the chapter there is a summary.
Chapter II includes the comparative analysis of consonant systems of English and Turkish languages. This analysis can give us a possibility to find some similarities and differences between the consonants of English and Turkish languages.
The conclusion sums up the results of the study.
In references we can find the general tables of consonant sounds.
Chapter 1. Consonant systems of English and Turkish languages
In articulatory phonetics, a consonant is a sound in spoken language that is characterized by a closure or stricture of the vocal tract sufficient to cause audible turbulence. The word consonant comes from Latin and means "sounding with" or "sounding together," the idea being that consonants don't sound on their own, but occur only with a nearby vowel, which is the case in Latin. This conception of consonants, however, does not reflect the modern linguistic understanding which defines consonants in terms of vocal tract constriction Halle, Morris. 1990. “Respecting metrical structure”. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory.
Since the number of consonants in the world's languages is much greater than the number of consonant letters in any one alphabet, linguists have devised systems such as the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) to assign a unique symbol to each possible consonant Katzner, Kenneth (March 2002). Languages of the World, Third Edition.. In fact, the Latin alphabet, which is used to write English, has fewer consonant letters than English has consonant sounds, so some letters represent more than one consonant, and digraphs like "sh" and "th" are used to represent some sounds. Many speakers aren't even aware that the "th" sound in "this" is a different sound from the "th" sound in "thing" (in the IPA they're [?] and [?], respectively).
Each consonant can be distinguished by several features:
· The manner of articulation is the method that the consonant is articulated, such as nasal (through the nose), stop (complete obstruction of air), or approximant (vowel like).
· The place of articulation is where in the vocal tract the obstruction of the consonant occurs, and which speech organs are involved. Places include bilabial (both lips), alveolar (tongue against the gum ridge), and velar (tongue against soft palate). Additionally, there may be a simultaneous narrowing at another place of articulation, such as palatalisation or pharyngealisation.
· The phonation of a consonant is how the vocal cords vibrate during the articulation. When the vocal cords vibrate fully, the consonant is called voiced; when they do not vibrate at all, it's voiceless.
· The voice onset time (VOT) indicates the timing of the phonation. Aspiration is a feature of VOT.
· The airstream mechanism is how the air moving through the vocal tract is powered. Most languages have exclusively pulmonic egressive consonants, which use the lungs and diaphragm, but ejectives, clicks, and implosives use different mechanisms.
· The length is how long the obstruction of a consonant lasts. This feature is borderline distinctive in English, as in "wholly" [ho?lli] vs. "holy" [ho?li], but cases are limited to morpheme boundaries. Unrelated roots are differentiated in various languages such as Italian, Japanese and Finnish, with two length levels, "single" and "geminate". Estonian and some Sami languages have three phonemic lengths: short, geminate, and long geminate, although the distinction between the geminate and overlong geminate includes suprasegmental features.
· The articulatory force is how much muscular energy is involved. This has been proposed many times, but no distinction relying exclusively on force has ever been demonstrated.
All English consonants can be classified by a combination of these features, such as "voiceless alveolar stop consonant" [t]. In this case the airstream mechanism is omitted.
In linguistics (articulatory phonetics), manner of articulation describes how the tongue, lips, and other speech organs involved in making a sound make contact. Often the concept is only used for the production of consonants. For any place of articulation, there may be several manners, and therefore several homorganic consonants.
One parameter of manner is stricture, that is, how closely the speech organs approach one another. Parameters other than stricture are those involved in the ar sounds (taps and trills), and the sibilancy of fricatives. Often nasality and laterality are included in manner, but phoneticians such as Peter Ladefoged consider them to be independent.
From greatest to least stricture, speech sounds may be classified along a cline as stop consonants (with occlusion, or blocked airflow), fricative consonants (with partially blocked and therefore strongly turbulent airflow), approximants (with only slight turbulence), and vowels (with full unimpeded airflow). Affricates often behave as if they were intermediate between stops and fricatives, but phonetically they are sequences of stop plus fricative.
Historically, sounds may move along this cline toward less stricture in a process called lenition.
Sibilants are distinguished from other fricatives by the shape of the tongue and how the airflow is directed over the teeth. Fricatives at coronal places of articulation may be sibilant or non-sibilant, sibilants being the more common.
Taps and flaps are similar to very brief stops. However, their articulation and behavior is distinct enough to be considered a separate manner, rather than just length.[specify]
Trills involve the vibration of one of the speech organs. Since trilling is a separate parameter from stricture, the two may be combined. Increasing the stricture of a typical trill results in a trilled fricative. Trilled affricates are also known.
Nasal airflow may be added as an independent parameter to any speech sound. It is most commonly found in nasal stops and nasal vowels, but nasal fricatives, taps, and approximants are also found. When a sound is not nasal, it is called oral. An oral stop is often called a plosive, while a nasal stop is generally just called a nasal.
Laterality is the release of airflow at the side of the tongue. This can also be combined with other manners, resulting in lateral approximants (the most common), lateral flaps, and lateral fricatives and affricates.
· Plosive, or oral stop, where there is complete occlusion (blockage) of both the oral and nasal cavities of the vocal tract, and therefore no air flow. Examples include English /p t k/ (voiceless) and /b d g/ (voiced). If the consonant is voiced, the voicing is the only sound made during occlusion; if it is voiceless, a plosive is completely silent. What we hear as a /p/ or /k/ is the effect that the onset of the occlusion has on the preceding vowel, and well as the release burst and its effect on the following vowel. The shape and position of the tongue (the place of articulation) determine the resonant cavity that gives different plosives their characteristic sounds. All languages have plosives.
· Nasal stop, usually shortened to nasal, where there is complete occlusion of the oral cavity, and the air passes instead through the nose. The shape and position of the tongue determine the resonant cavity that gives different nasal stops their characteristic sounds. Examples include English /m, n/. Nearly all languages have nasals, the only exceptions being in the area of Puget Sound and a single language on Bougainville Island.
· Fricative, sometimes called spirant, where there is continuous frication (turbulent and noisy airflow) at the place of articulation. Examples include English /f, s/ (voiceless), /v, z/ (voiced), etc. Most languages have fricatives, though many have only an /s/. However, the Australian languages are almost completely devoid of fricatives of any kind.
· Sibilants are a type of fricative where the airflow is guided by a groove in the tongue toward the teeth, creating a high-pitched and very distinctive sound. These are by far the most common fricatives. Fricatives at coronal (front of tongue) places of articulation are usually, though not always, sibilants. English sibilants include /s/ and /z/.
· Lateral fricatives are a rare type of fricative, where the frication occurs on one or both sides of the edge of the tongue. The "ll" of the Welsh language and the "hl" of Zulu are lateral fricatives.
· Affricate, which begins like a plosive, but this releases into a fricative rather than having a separate release of its own. The English letters "ch" and "j" represent affricates. Affricates are quite common around the world, though less common than fricatives.
· Flap, often called a tap, is a momentary closure of the oral cavity. The "tt" of "utter" and the "dd" of "udder" are pronounced as a flap in North American English. Many linguists distinguish taps from flaps, but there is no consensus on what the difference might be. No language relies on such a difference. There are also lateral flaps.
· Trill, in which the articulator (usually the tip of the tongue) is held in place, and the airstream causes it to vibrate. The double "r" of Spanish "perro" is a trill. Trills and flaps, where there are one or more brief occlusions, constitute a class of consonant called rhotics.
· Approximant, where there is very little obstruction. Examples include English /w/ and /r/. In some languages, such as Spanish, there are sounds which seem to fall between fricative and approximant.
· One use of the word semivowel is a type of approximant, pronounced like a vowel but with the tongue closer to the roof of the mouth, so that there is slight turbulence. In English, /w/ is the semivowel equivalent of the vowel /u/, and /j/ (spelled "y") is the semivowel equivalent of the vowel /i/ in this usage. Other descriptions use semivowel for vowel-like sounds that are not syllabic, but do not have the increased stricture of approximants. These are found as elements in diphthongs. The word may also be used to cover both concepts.
· Lateral approximants, usually shortened to lateral, are a type of approximant pronounced with the side of the tongue. English /l/ is a lateral. Together with the rhotics, which have similar behavior in many languages, these form a class of consonant called liquids.
Manners of articulation with substantial obstruction of the airflow (plosives, fricatives, affricates) are called obstruents. These are prototypically voiceless, but voiced obstruents are extremely common as well. Manners without such obstruction (nasals, liquids, approximants, and also vowels) are called sonorants because they are nearly always voiced. Voiceless sonorants are uncommon, but are found in Welsh and Classical Greek (the spelling "rh"), in Tibetan (the "lh" of Lhasa), and the "wh" in those dialects of English which distinguish "which" from "witch".
Sonorants may also be called resonants, and some linguists prefer that term, restricting the word 'sonorant' to non-vocoid resonants (that is, nasals and liquids, but not vowels or semi-vowels). Another common distinction is between stops (plosives and nasals) and continuants (all else); affricates are considered to be both, because they are sequences of stop plus fricative.
Principles of Classification of English Consonants
The particular quality of a consonant depends on the work of the vocal cords, the position of the soft palate and the kind of noise that results when the tongue or the lips obstruct the airflow Bolinger, Dwight L.1986. Intonation and Its Parts. Melody in Spoken English..
Linguists distinguish two types of articulatory obstruction that are formed when pronouncing consonants: complete and incomplete Berg, T. (1989). On the internal structure of polysyllabic monomorphemic words: the case for superrimes..
A complete obstruction is formed when organs of speech come into contact with each other and the air-passage is blocked.
An incomplete obstruction is formed when articulating organs (articulators) are held so close to a point of articulation as to narrow, or constrict, the air-passage without blocking it.
1.1 Classification of English consonant system
There are all in all 24 consonants in the English language and they are usually classified according to the following four principles This classification is taken from the book: Vassiliev, Vyacheslav, A. 1980. English Phonetics. A Theoretical Course. Moscow: Vyshaya Shcola, pp. 16-19.:
I. According to the type of obstruction and the manner of noise production.
II. According to the active organ of speech and the place of obstruction.
III. According to the work of the vocal cords and the force of articulation.
IV. According to the position of the soft palate.
According to the Degree of Noise
Class A. Noise Consonants
Class B. Sonorants
Vary: 1. In the manner of articulation.
2. In the place of articulation.
3. In the work of the vocal cords.
4. In the force of articulation.
Vary: 1. In the manner of articulation.
2. In the place of articulation.
3. In the position of the soft palate.
4. In the direction of the air stream.
According to the type of obstruction and the manner of noise production.
a) According to the type of obstruction, all English consonants are divided into occlusive and constrictive.
Occlusive consonants are produced with a complete obstruction formed by the articulating organs, when the airflow is blocked in the mouth cavity.
Constrictive consonants are produced with an incomplete or restricted obstruction, that is by a narrowing of the airflow.
Occlusive consonants may be: (1) noise and (2) sonorants.
In the production of occlusive sonorants organs of speech form a complete obstruction in the mouth cavity, which is not released. The soft palate is lowered and the air escapes through the nasal cavity. In occlusive sonorants tone prevails over noise.
In Turkish occlusive sonorants are: [m], [n].
b) According to the manner of noise production, occlusive noise consonants are divided into plosive consonants (or stops) and affricates.
In the production of occlusive plosives (or stops) active organs of speech form a complete obstruction to the airflow, which is then released with a plosion.
In the English language voiceless occlusive plosives [p, t, k ] are aspirated Aspiration is a slight puff of breath that is heard after the plosion of a voiceless plosive consonant before the beginning of the vowel, that follows it., with the exception of the case when they are preceded by [s], like in clusters [sp, st, sk ].
In Turkish occlusive plosives are: [p, b, t, d, k', k' g', g' ].
In the production of occlusive affricates active organs of speech form a complete obstruction, which is then released so slowly that a considerable friction takes place at the point of articulation.
In Turkish occlusive affricates are: [C], [G] and [ts].
Constrictive consonants may also be: (1) noise and (2) sonorants.
In the production of noise constrictives active organs of speech form an incomplete or restricted obstruction.
In Turkish noise constrictives are: [ f, v, s, z, S, Z, h ].
In the production of constrictive sonorants the air-passage is fairly wide, so that the air passing through the mouth does not produce audible friction and tone prevails over noise.
b) According to the manner of noise production, constrictive sonorant consonants are divided into lateral consonants and median.
In the production of median sonorants the air escapes without audible friction over the central part of the tongue, the sides of the tongue being raised.
In English median constrictive sonorants are: [w, r, j ]; Turkish - [ r, j ].
In the production of lateral sonorants the tongue is pressed against the alveolar ridge or the teeth, and the sides of the tongue are lowered, leaving the air-passage flow along them.
In English lateral constrictive sonorants are: [ l', l ]; in Turkish - [ l ].
According to the active organ of speech and the place of obstruction.
According to the active organ of speech, English consonants are devided into three groups: labial, lingual and glotta Hyman, Larry M.1975. Phonology: Theory and Analysis, New York, Holt, Rinehart and Winston.l.
1. Labial consonants are articulated with one or both lips and, therefore, may be (A) bilabial and (B) labio-dental.
Bilabial consonants are articulated with both lips, upper and lower. The English bilabial consonants are: [m, p, b]; the Turkish bilabial consonants are: [ m, p, b ].
(B) Labio-dental consonants are articulated with the lower lip against the upper teeth. The English labio-dental consonants are [f], [v], and the Turkish labio-dental consonants are: [f, v].
2. Lingual consonants are articulated with the tongue and may be (A) forelingual, (B) mediolingual, and (C) backlingual.
Forelingual consonants are articulated with the tip or the blade of the tongue, they may fall into two subgroups: a) apical and b) cacuminal.
Apical consonants are articulated by the tip of the tongue against either the upper teeth or the alveolar ridge. The English apical consonants are: [T], [D], [t], [d], [I], [n], [s], [z], the Turkish [ t, d, n, l, s, z ].
Cacuminal consonants are articulated by the tip of the tongue raised against the back part of the alveolar ridge. The front of the tongue is lowered in a 'spoon-shaped' form; the English [r].
(B) Mediolingual consonants are articulated with the front of the tongue against the hard palate. For English and Turkish the mediolingual consonat is [j].
(C) Backlingual consonants are articulated by the back of the tongue against the soft palate. The English backlingual consonants are: [k], [g], [N], and the Turkish - [[k'], [k], [g'], [g].
b) According to the place of obstruction, English consonants are divided into (1) dental (interdental or post-dental), (2) alveolar, (3) palato-alveolar, (4) post-alveolar, (5) palatal, and (6) velar.
Dental consonants are articulated against the upper teeth either with the tip or with the blade of the tongue. The English [T], [D], or with the blade of the tongue, the Turkish [t], [t'].
Alveolar consonants are articulated by the tip of the tongue against the alveolar ridge: such English consonants as [t], [d], [n], [ l ], [s], [z], and Turkish - [t, d, s, z, l,n, r, ts].
(3) Palato-alveolar consonants are articulated by the tip and blade of the tongue against the alveolar ridge or the back part of the alveolar ridge, while the front of the tongue is raised in the direction of the hard palate: the English [S], [Z], [C], [G], and the Turkish [ Z, S ] .
Post-alveolar consonants are articulated by the tip of the tongue against the back part of the alveolar ridge: the English [r].
Palatal consonants are articulated by the front of the tongue being raised in the direction of the hard palate: the English, Turkish [j].
Velar consonants are articulated by the back or root of the tongue raised in the direction of the velum, or against the uvula; the English [k, g, N], the Turkish [k',k, g', g].
The correspondence between the active organ of speech and the place of obstruction for the English forelingual consonants see in Table 4.2 given below.
Table 2. Active organ of speech vs. place of obstruction
Active org./ place of obstruction
t, d, n, l, s, z
c, g, s, z
k, g, n
According to the work of the vocal cords and the force of articulation
According to the work of the vocal cords, consonants are divided into voiced and voiceless.
b) According to the force of articulation, consonants are divided into fortis (or relatively strong), and lenis (or relatively weak).
All English voiced consonants are lenis (relatively weak) Heffner, R. M. S. General Phonetics. 1964. Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press. The following English consonants are voiced and lenis: [b], [d], [g], [g], [v], [d], [z], [z], [m], [n], [n], [w], [i], [r], [j].
The Turkish voiceless consonants are weaker than their English counterparts, and Turkish voiced consonants are a little stronger.
All English voiceless consonants are fortis (relatively strong). They are pronounced with greater muscular tension and a stronger breath force than the voiced ones. The English voiceless consonants are: [p, t, k, f, T, s, C, S, h].
Voiceless consonant (surd)
[?] (thin, thigh)
[?] (then, thy)
According to the position of the soft palate
According to the position of the soft palate, all English consonants are devided into two groups: nasal and sonorants.
Nasal consonants are produced when the soft palate is lowered down and the air-passage goes through the nasal cavity, and the access to the mouth cavity is blocked.
The English nasal consonants are [m], [n], [n], and the Turkish - [m ], [n].
List of nasal stops:
· [m] is a voiced bilabial nasal
· [?] is a voiced labiodental nasal (SAMPA: [F])
· [n] is a dental nasal (SAMPA: [n_d]}
· [n] is an alveolar or dental nasal: see alveolar nasal
· [?] voiced retroflex nasal, common in Indic languages (SAMPA: [n`])
· [?] voiced palatal nasal (SAMPA: [J]); is a common sound in European languages as in: Spanish n; or French and Italian gn; or Catalan and Hungarian ny; or Occitan and Portuguese nh.
· [?] voiced velar nasal (SAMPA: [N]), as in sing.
· [?] voiced uvular nasal (SAMPA: [N\])
Oral consonants are produced when the soft palate is raised up and the air passage goes through the mouth cavity, and the access to the nasal cavity is blocked.
The following English consonants are oral [p], [b], [t], [d], [k], [g], [f], [v], [t], [d], [s], [z], [s], [z], [h], [c], [g], [w], [i], [r], [j].
Having examined the main criteria we can use to classify consonants from an articulatory point of view, we can now briefly describe the consonant phonemes of English.
A. The Approximants
1. The Glides. There are two sounds in English, [w] and [j], having vowel-like features as far as their articulation is concerned, but which differ from their vowel counterparts [u] and [i] respectively through their distribution, force of articulation and length Deligiorgis, Ioanna. 2001. Glides and Syllables. When we articulate a glide the articulatory organs start by producing a vowel-like sound, but then they immediately change their position to produce another sound. It is to the gliding that accompanies their articulation that these sounds owe their name. As we have seen earlier, precisely because of their ambiguous nature they are also called semivowels or semiconsonants. Unlike vowels, they cannot occur in syllable-final position, can never precede a consonant and are always followed by a genuine vocalic sound Clements, G. N. & S. J. Keyser (1983). CV phonology: a generative theory of the syllable.
a. [w] is a labio-velar, rounded sound. At the beginning, its articulation is similar to that of the vowel [u], but then the speech organs shift to a different position to utter a different vocalic sound. The distribution of the sound includes syllable-initial position before almost any English vowel (e.g. win [w 4n], weed [wi:d], wet [wet], wag [w ?g], work [w f:k], won [won],woo [wu:], wood [w ѓТd], walk, [w ]:k] wander [w ]nd c],) or a diphthong (e.g. way). Before [r], (e.g. write) the sound is no longer pronounced. [w] can also occur after a plosive (e.g. twin, queen) or a fricative consonant (e.g. swine). It can be rendered graphically either by the letter w (the most common case) (e.g. sweet) or by u (e.g. quite).
b. [j] is an unrounded palatal semivowel. The initial stage of its pronunciation is quite similar to that of the short vowel [w], but then the sound glides to a different vocalic value Dobson, E. J. (1968). English pronunciation 1500-1700. 2nd edition. 2 vols. Oxford: Clarendon Press.. Like [w], [j] cannot occur in final position (as a quite similar palatal sound very often does in Turkish), is never followed by a consonant and occurs in front of back, central and front vowels. (e.g. yes, young, youth). It can be preceded by a plosive (e.g. tune) or a fricative (e.g. fume). The sound may be spelt y (as in year) while in words spelt with u, ue, ui, ew, eu and eau read as the long vowel [u:] the palatal sound is often inserted. The insertion is obligatory if the preceding consonant is: an oral plosive (p, b, t, d, k, g), a nasal stop (m, n), a labio-dental fricative (f, v) or a glottal one (h). A word like beauty can only be read [bju:tw] and not [bu:tw]. Cf. also: pure, bureau, tulip, deuce, queue, argue, mule, neutral, furious, revue, huge. The palatal sound is not inserted after affricates or after [r] or [l] preceded by a consonant: chew, June, rude, clue. When [l] is not preceded by a consonant or when the sound preceding [u:] is an alveolar fricative [s, z] or a dental one, the usage varies: cf. suit [sju:t], but also [su:t]. In words like unite, unique, university, etc, where u forms the syllable alone the vowel is always preceded by the semivowel: [ju:na?t].
2. The Liquids. These are approximant sounds, produced in the alveolar and postalveolar region and include several variants of the lateral [l] and of the rhotic [r].
a. The lateral [l]. The main variants of [l] are a so-called “clear” [l] and a “dark” [l]. The clear [l] is distributed in prevocalic positions. When this sound is articulated, the tip of the tongue touches the alveolar ridge and the air is released either unilaterally or on both sides of the active articulator. The front part of the tongue also raises towards the hard palate. Words like lake [le?k], look [luk], flute [flu:t], lurid [ljur?d] delight [d?la?t] illustrate the distribution of the consonant in syllable-initial position or after a plosive plot [pl]t], Blake [ble?k], clean [kli:n], glue [glu:] or a fricative slot [sl]t], fly [fla?] and in front of a vowel or the glide [j] The dark [l] is distributed in word-final position or before a consonant. As in the case o the clear [l] the tip of the tongue touches the alveolar ridge and the air is released laterally, but now it is the body of the tongue that raises against the soft palate, modifying the resonance of the sound and giving it a more “stifled” character. Words like kill [kil], rule [ru:l], belfry [belfr?], belt [belt], silk [s?lk] illustrate the distribution of the sound either at the end of the word (syllable) or before a consonant.
The phoneme is spelt either l or ll in words like link or call, for instance. In many words, however, before plosive sounds like [k] or [d] - cf. chalk, could; or before nasals like [m] or [n] - cf. calm, Lincoln; the labio-dental fricatives [f] and [v] - cf. calf, calves; the lateral sound is not pronounced.
b. The rhotic [r]. The class includes several variants which are pretty different both in rticulatory terms and in auditory effect. The RP [‹] is a frictionless continuant, articulated very much like a fricative, but friction does not accompany the production of the sound. The tip of the tongue slightly touches the back of the alveolar ridge, while the body of the tongue is low in the mouth.
A flapped is used by many speakers of English, especially when it occurs at the beginning of unstressed syllables. The tongue rapidly touches the alveolar ridge with a tap.
A rolled [r] is common in northern dialects and in Scotland. It is produced by a quick succession of flaps, the tongue repeatedly and rapidly touching the alveolar ridge and vibrating against it. This sound is not characteristic for RP. The letter r or double rr reproduces the sound graphically: right, barren In postvocalic word- or syllable-final position the sound is not pronounced in standard English - cf. car, party. If the word is, however, followed by a vowel, [r] is reinserted: the car is mine. The same insertion takes place when an affix is attached to a base ending in a (normally) silent [r]: hear [h?c] /hearing [h?cr?o]; Moor [mѓТc] /Moorish [mѓТcr?*]. This type of [r] is called “linking r”.
B. The English Stops
1. The oral plosives. In terms of their place of articulation they are bilabial, alveolar and velar.
a. [p] is a voiceless, bilabial, fortis plosive. Its variants include an aspirated plosive if the consonant is followed by a stressed vowel and occurs in syllable-initial position. Being a bilabial stop, [p] is produced by completely blocking the airstream at the level of the lips and by suddenly releasing the air with an explosion. Except for the aspirated variant, the phoneme is pretty similar to its Turkish counterpart. It is distributed in initial, medial and final position: pane, appear, lip. It is spelt p: plane or pp5: opposite and only exceptionally gh in hiccough. The letter p is silent when followed by another obstruent or a nasal in word-initial position: psalm, pterodactyl, pneumatic.
b [b] is the voiced, lenis counterpart of [p]. Voicing and force of articulation are the features that contrast the two phonemes, [b] being like [p] a bilabial sound. It is distributed in all three basic positions; initial, medial and final: bet, above, cab. It is spelt b: about or bb:abbot. The letter is silent in final position after m: limb, crumb, dumb and in front of t in words of Latin origin where the sound has long been lost: debt, doubt, subtle. The variants of [b] include partially devoiced allophones in initial position: big, blow, bring and laterally or nasally released allophones when [b] is followed by the lateral l: bless or by a nasal consonant: ribbon. It is not audibly released in final position: rib.
c. [t] is a voiceless, apico-alveolar, fortis plosive. Like [p], it has an aspirated variant that occurs before stressed vowels when the phoneme is distributed in syllable-initial position: tube. If preceded by s, however, [t] is unaspirated: stain. Its distribution includes all basic positions: try, attain, pit. It is laterally or nasally released if followed by [l] or by a nasal consonant, repectively: little, written, utmost. The English phoneme is more retracted than its Turkish counterpart which is rather a dental sound. It is spelt with t: toe, with tt: cutter or with th: Thomas,Thames.
d. [d] is the voiced, lenis counterpart of [t], voicing and force of articulation differentiating between the two sounds that share the same place of articulation in the alveolar region. Both [t] and [d] can become dentalized in the vicinity of the dental fricatives, in words like eighth and breadth. The sound is distributed in initial, medial and final position: dime, addition, pad. It is partially devoiced in initial position: duke and devoiced in final position: road. It is laterally released if followed by [l]: riddle and nasally released if followed by [m] or [n]: admit, sudden.. It is spelt d: read or dd: adder.
e. [k] is a voiceless, dorso-velar, fortis, plosive sound, articulated with the dorsum of the tongue against the soft palate. Like the other voiceless plosives described above, it has an aspirated variant if the sound is distributed in syllable-initial position, in front of a stressed vowel: cat. [k] is distributed in initial, medial and final position: coat, accuse, sack. It can be followed by a nasal consonant and be consequently nasally released thicken or by the lateral liquid and be laterally released: fickle. In spelling, the sound can be represented by the letter c (e.g. comb) or by cc (e.g. accuse), by k (e.g. kill), by ck (e.g. pick), by ch (e.g. architect), by qu (e.g. queen). As in Turkish, the sequence [ks] can be rendered by the letter x (e.g. extreme). In words like muscle and knave the letters c an k are silent.
f [g] is the voiced, lenis pair of [k] and it has basically the same features as its Turkish counterpart. It is distributed in initial, medial and final position: game, begin, rag. Its allophones include partially devoiced variants in initial position: gain, devoiced variants in final position: dog, laterally released, when followed by [l]: giggle and nasally released when followed by [m]: dogmatic. In spelling, the consonant can be rendered by g: get by gg: begged, or by g followed by h, as in ghastly, by ua, ue or ui, as in guarantee, guess or linguist, respectively. The voiced counterpart of [ks], [gz] can also be rendered by x in words like example.
g. The glottal stop [g] is a glottal, voiceless, fortis sound produced in the glottal region by bringing the vocal cords together and then separating them, thus completely blocking and then suddenly releasing the airstream. It is a sound that has been compared with a slight cough. It appears in syllablefinal position especially when it separates two adjacent vowels that are not part of the same syllable (in a hiatus): geography or between a vowel and a syllable-final voiceless stop or affricate that it reinforces. In some accents (notably Cockney), it replaces voiceless plosives like [k] and [t] at the end of a syllable. E.g. sick guy [sI?gaI] or quite right [kwaI?raIt]. Acoustically, English voiced plosives can be distinguished from their voiceless counterparts by having a low frequency component determined by the feature voice. The release stages of the three classses of stops in terms of place of articulation: bilabial, alveolar and velar, respectively, differ as regards the noise burst they produce. Alveolar plosives display higher frequencies (3000-4000 cps) than the bilabial (around 360 cps) and velar ones (around 700 cps).
2. The Nasal stops.
a. [m] is a bilabial, voiced, lenis, nasal stop. As in the case of all nasal sonorants, when we articulate this sound the velum is lowered, blocking the oral cavity and letting the air escape through the nose. There are no differences between the English sound and its Turkish counterpart. [m] is distributed in all basic positions: initial, medial and final: make, remote, dim. It can be spelt with m or mm: come, common. It should be said, however, that English does not accept a sequence of two nasal sounds in the same syllable, words like solemn and hymn differing from their Turkish counterparts as the last nasal sound is not pronounced. If an affix is added, nevertheless, that begins with a vowel, the second consonant is recovered. Compare solemn [s]lem] to solemnity [s]lemnwtw].
b. [n] is an alveolar, voiced, lenis, nasal stop. The place of articulation is similar to that of [t] and [d], but [n] is a nasal sound, so the air is released through the nose and not through the mouth. It is similar to its Turkish counterpart. It is distributed in all three basic positions - initial, medial and final: name, renown, can. It is spelt n or nn: dean, annual. The sound is elided in final position after [m], but recovered in derived words: damn, damnation. (See also solemn and solemnity above).
c. [o] is a velar, voiced, lenis, nasal stop. It occurs in the vicinity of the velar oral plosives in words like link or wrong. It is to be noted that in present day English the velar oral plosive in the last word is no longer pronounced, but we can find the velar nasal in front of [g] in connected speech in sequences like I can get it. A similar sound can be found in Turkish, in words like banca, ranga, but in our language it does not have a phonemic, contrastive value. As pointed out above, this phoneme has a limited distribution: it always precedes the voiceless velar plosive or occurs in syllable-final position in front of an elided [g].
C. The English Fricatives
Fricatives are, as we remember, sounds that are produced by narrowing the speech tract and letting the air out, a process which is accompanied by friction and in some cases by a hissing sound.
[f] is a labio-dental, voiceless, fortis consonant. It is produced by pressing the lower lip against the upper teeth and forcing the air out between them. The sound is similar to its Turkish counterpart.The sound can be spelt f - as in fine, fllare, fringe, feud, loaf, stifle, ff - as in effort, snuff, ph - as in physics, graph, or even gh - as in enough, tough. The word lieutenant [lef'tencnt] is a particular case.
[v] is the voiced, lenis pair of [f] with which it shares the place (labio- dental) and manner (fricative) of articulation. It is important to remember that the English sound is a labio-dental and not a bilabial fricative (as its Spanish counterpart, for instance). It has exactly the same characteristics as the Turkish sound. It is spelt with the letter v. (Exceptionally, by ph in
Stephen, nephew and f in of). Certain English nouns voice their labio-dental final fricative when they pluralize displaying the alternance f/v: e.g. leaf / leaves, wife/wives. Derivational affixes can also voice the final consonant: life/liven.
[ѓЖ] is an interdental, voiceless, fortis fricative. The phoneme does not have any distributional variants. It occurs in word-initial, medial and final position. It is produced with the tip of the tongue between the teeth, the air escaping through the passage in between. It is a sound difficult to pronounce for Turkish speakers who often mistake it for [s] or even [t]. The sound exists in other European languages too, such as Spanish or Greek, the symbol used in the IPA alphabet being in fact borrowed from the Greek alphabet. The sound is rendered graphically by h: e.g. thin, method, path. The sound often occurs in clusters difficult to pronounce: eighths [e?tѓЖs], depths [depѓЖs], lengths [leoѓЖs].
[?] is the voiced pair of [ѓЖ] being an interdental, voiced, lenis fricative. In initial position it is only distributed in grammatical words such as demonstratives: this, that, these, those, there; articles: the; adverbs: thus. It occurs freely in medial position: brother, bother, rather, heathen. In final position it often represents the voicing of [ѓЖ] in plurals like mouths [mau.z], wreaths [ri:.z] which may prove difficult to pronounce, or in derived words like bath [ba: ѓЖ] (noun)/bathe [be?.] (verb) or breath [breѓЖ] (n.)/ breathe [bri:.] (v.). The sound is always spelt th, like its voiceless counterpart. [s] is an alveolar, voiceless, fortis fricative, produced with the blade of the tongue against the alveolar ridge, a sound quite similar to its Turkish counterpart. It is a hissing sound distributed in all major positions: at the beginning, within and at the end of a word. It is in fact the only obstruent sound in English that can occur in front of another obstruent, provided the latter is voiceless: e.g. spot, stop, skin. [s] is the plural allomorph for nouns ending in a voiceless consonant as well as the allomorph of the 3rd person singular present indicative morpheme. It is spelt s, ss or c in front of e, i or y: e.g. sour, say, hiss, assign, ceiling, cellar, cigarette, precise, cypress, bicycle. Sometimes the spelling can be sce, sci or scy (e.g. science, scent, scene, scythe). s is silent in words like corps, island, viscount.
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