Articulatory Phonetics

Topics: International Phonetic Alphabet, Phonation, Phonetics Pages: 10 (3487 words) Published: March 11, 2013
Articulatory Phonetics
      We will spend the next few days studying articulatory phonetic: what is involved in the actual movement of various parts of the vocal tract during speech.  (Use transparancy to discuss organs of speech; oral, pharyngeal and nasal cavities; articulators, lungs and diaphragm).       All speech sounds are made in this area.  None are made outside of it (such as by stomping, hand clapping, snapping of fingers, farting, etc.)       Theoretically, any sound could be used as a speech sound provided the human vocal tract is capable of producing it and the human ear capable of hearing it.  Actually only a few hundred different sounds or types of sounds occur in languages known to exist today, considerably fewer than the vocal tract is capable of producing.        Thus, all speech sounds result from air being somehow obstructed or modified within the vocal tract. This involves 3 processes working together: a) the airstream process--the source of air used in making the sound. b) the phonation process--the behavior of the vocal cords in the glottis during the production of the sound. c) the oro-nasal process--the modification of that flow of air in the vocal track (from the glottis to the lips and nose).       Let's discuss the airstream process first.

The airstream process
      The first major way to categorize sounds according to phonetic features is by the source of air.  Where does the air come from that is modified by the vocal organs? Languages can use any of three airstream mechanisms to produce sounds.         One airstream mechanism is by far the most important for producing sounds in the world's languages.  Most sounds in the world's languages are produced by manipulating air coming into the vocal tract as it is being exhaled by the lungs, a method referred to as the pulmonic egressive airstream mechanism.  Sounds made by manipulating air as it is exhaled from the lungs are called pulmonic egressive sounds.  Virtually all sounds in English and other European languages are produced by manipulating exhaled air.  And most sounds in other languages are also pulmonic egressive.        There is another variety of this pulmonic airstream mechanism. Inhaled air can also be modified to produce speech sounds.  This actually occurs in a few rare and special cases, such as in Tsou, an aboriginal language of Taiwan, which has inhaled [f] and [h] ([h5/˝ps˝] ashes; [f5/tsuju], egg).  Such sounds are called pulmonic ingressive sounds, and the airstream mechanism for making such sounds is called the ingressive rather than the egressive version of the pulmonic airstream mechanism.  Perhaps because it is physiologically harder to slow down an inhalation than an exhalation, pulmonic ingressive sounds are extremely rare.       The majority of the sounds in all languages of the world are pulmonic egressive sounds.  However, in addition to using air being actively exhaled (or inhaled), two other airstream mechanisms are used to produce some of the sounds in some of the world's languages.        1) To understand the second airstream mechanism, the glottalic airstream mechanism, let's first look at a special pulmonic egressive sound, the glottal stop. Air being exhaled from the lungs may be stopped in the throat by a closure of the glottis.  This trapping of air by the glottis is called a glottal stop.  English actually has a glottal stop in certain exclamations:  [u?ow], u?u], [a?a], and in certain dialectical pronunciations: [bottle].  The IPA renders the glottal stop as a question mark without the period.        The glottal stop itself is an example of a pulmonic egressive sound, since air from the lungs is being stopped.  However, the glottis can be closed immediately before the production of certain other sounds, trapping a pocket of air in the vocal tract.  If this reservoir of stationary air is then manipulated in the production of a sound it yields another type of airstream mechanism, the glottalic airstream...
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