What three terms are used to describe English consonants in phonetics?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The three terms to describe English consonants are voicing, place of articulation, and manner of articulation.

Voicing describes whether or not the vocal folds are being vibrated to alter the sound produced. Voicing accounts for the difference between the sounds [s] and [z]. Try placing your hand on your throat...

See
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

The three terms to describe English consonants are voicing, place of articulation, and manner of articulation.

Voicing describes whether or not the vocal folds are being vibrated to alter the sound produced. Voicing accounts for the difference between the sounds [s] and [z]. Try placing your hand on your throat and saying the word sue and then the word zoo. When you say zoo, you should feel your vocal folds vibrating.

Place of articulation describes where in the oral cavity air is restricted to produce sound. There are seven distinct places of articulation in English phonetics: bilabial, labiodental, interdental, alveolar, palatal, velar, and glottal.

  • Bilabial consonants, like [p] and [b], are articulated at the lips.
  • Labiodental consonants, like [f] and [v], are articulated between the lips and the teeth.
  • Interdental consonants, like [ð] and [θ], are articulated between the teeth.
  • Alveolar consonants, like [t] and [d], are articulated at the alveolar ridge, a hard extrusion above the teeth. To locate the alveolar ridge, make a [t] sound, like in train and notice where your tongue hits.
  • Palatal consonants, like [ʃ] and [ʒ], are articulated against the hard palate, using the body, or middle, of the tongue.
  • Velar consonants, like [k] and [g], are articulated against the soft palate, also known as the velum, using the back of the tongue.
  • Glottal consonants, like [ʔ] and [h], are articulated in the vocal tract, or glottis, located near the throat.

Manner of articulation describes the way in which air is restricted to produce sound. There are six manners of articulation in English phonetics: stops, fricatives, affricates, nasals, liquids, and glides.

  • Stops, or plosives, like [t] and [d], totally restrict airflow momentarily and then release it in a burst. Make a [t] sound and notice the build-up and then release of pressure.
  • Fricatives, like [s] and [ʃ], are made by forcing air through a narrow space.
  • Affricates, like [tʃ] and [dʒ], are made making a stop and then making a fricative immediately after.
  • Nasals, like [m] and [n], are made by closing off the mouth and forcing air through the nasal cavity.
  • Liquids, like [ɹ] and [l], are made by using the tongue to partially close off the mouth and resonating the sound within the mouth.
  • Glides, or semivowels, like [w] and [j], are produced similarly to vowels but occur at syllable boundaries.
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team