Voiced Voiceless

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  • Topic: Digraph, Phonation, Consonant
  • Pages : 2 (360 words )
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  • Published : May 11, 2012
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One problem that many students face in pronunciation is whether a consonant is voiced or voiceless. This guide should help you understand the differences and give you some simple rules. To help you I've recorded this voiced and voiceless consonant page so you can listen to the examples. (Suggestion: open the sound file in another page or tab so you can read along while you listen)

What is Voiced?

A simple explanation of voiced consonants is that they use the voice. This is easy to test by putting your finger on your throat. If you feel a vibration the consonant is voiced. Here is a list of some voiced consonants. Pronounce each consonant sound (not the letter) and feel the vibration of your vocal chords.

b
d
th (as in then)
v
l
r
z
j (as in Jane)

What is Voiceless?

Voiceless consonants do not use the voice. They are percussive and use hard sounds. Once again, you can test if a consonant is voiceless by putting your finger on your throat. You will feel no vibration in your throat, just a short explosion of air as you pronounce. Pronounce each of these consonant sounds and feel NO vibration in your throat.

p
t
k
s
sh
ch
th (as in thing)

Careful! Some Consonants Voiced, but are Voiceless

When consonants are put in groups they can change the voiced or voiceless quality of the consonant that follows. A great example of this is the past simple form of regular verbs. As you know, regular verbs add -ed to the end of the verb in the past simple.

play - played
wash - washed
live - lived etc

Connected Speech

Finally, when speaking in sentences the ending consonant sounds can change based on the following words. This is often referred to as 'connected speech'. Here is an example of a change from a voiced 'b' in the word 'club' to a voiceless 'p' because of the voiced 't' of 'to' of the following word:

We went to the club to meet some friends.

Here is an example of a change from a voiced 'd' past...
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