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Theory of phonetics.doc
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II. Classifications of Consonants.

Consonants are known to have voice and noise combined, while vowels are sounds consisting of voice only. From the articulatory point of view the difference is due to the work of speech organs. In case of vowels no obstruction is made. In case of consonants various obstructions are made. So consonants are characterized by so-called close articulation that is by a complete, partial or intermittent blockage of the air-passage by an organ or organs. The closure is formed in such a way that the air-stream is blocked or hindered or otherwise gives rise to audible friction. As a result consonants are sounds which have noise as their indispensable and most defining characteristic.

Each sound is known to have three aspects: acoustic, articulatory and auditory and therefore can be studied on these levels. To classify consonants we shall take into account such aspects as work of active organs of speech, place of obstruction, manner of producing the noise, type of obstruction the quantity of voice used.

I. According to the active organs of speech and the place of obstruction:

bilabial backlingual(=velar)

[p], [b], [m], [w ] labio-dental [k], [g], [N]

[f], [v] pharyngeal mediolingual

[h] (=palatal)



apical-alveolar cacuminal palatal-alveolar apical-interdental

[t], [d], [s],[z],[ l], [n] (=post alveolar) [S], [Z], [C], [G] [T], [D]


Bilabial – lips are closed

Labio-dental - approach of the upper teeth and lower lip.

Pharyngal – incomplete obstruction appears near the pharynx because of the approach of the root of the tongue and back surface of the pharynx.

Mediolingual – edges of the tongue are pressed to the upper teeth.

Backlingual(=velar)- the root of the tongue makes the obstruction.

Apical-alveolar inner surface of the upper teeth are on the alveolar range.

Cacuminal (=post alveolar) the top of the tongue is slightly bent, the back part of the top of the tongue acts.

II.According to the manner of producing the noise and the type of obstruction.

occlusive constrictive affricates

[C], [G]

plosivesonorants fricatives

[p], [b], [t], [f], [v], [s], [z], [S],

[d], [k], [g] [Z], [T], [D], [h]

nasal median lateral

[m], [n], [N]; [w], [r], [j]; [l]

Occlusive – complete obstruction for the stream of the air.

Constrictive - incomplete obstruction for the stream of the air when articulating organs are drawn together.

Affricates – when complete obstruction becomes incomplete.

Fricatives – the glottis is not too wide.

Sonorants – voice prevails over noise.

Nasal – the stream of the air goes through the nose (nasal cavity).

Median – the air goes along the tongue.

Lateral – the stream of the air goes along the edges of the tongue.

III. Vocal cords can be:

closed and vibrate taken apart

vowels and voiced the stream of the air goes

consonants are produced out freely and voiceless

consonants are produced

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