Articulatory phonetics

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The field of articulatory phonetics is a subfield of
phonetics Phonetics is a branch of linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of human language. It is called a scientific study because it entails a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise analysis of all aspects of language, parti ...
that studies articulation and ways that humans produce speech. Articulatory phoneticians explain how humans produce speech
sound In physics, sound is a vibration that propagates as an acoustic wave, through a transmission medium such as a gas, liquid or solid. In human physiology and psychology, sound is the ''reception'' of such waves and their ''perception'' by the ...
s via the interaction of different
physiological Physiology (; ) is the science, scientific study of function (biology), functions and mechanism (biology), mechanisms in a life, living system. As a branches of science, sub-discipline of biology, physiology focuses on how organisms, organ syst ...
structures. Generally, articulatory phonetics is concerned with the transformation of
aerodynamic Aerodynamics, from grc, ἀήρ ''aero'' (air) + grc, δυναμική (dynamics), is the study of the motion of air, particularly when affected by a solid object, such as an airplane wing. It involves topics covered in the field of fluid dy ...
energy In physics, energy (from Ancient Greek: wikt:ἐνέργεια#Ancient_Greek, ἐνέργεια, ''enérgeia'', “activity”) is the physical quantity, quantitative physical property, property that is #Energy transfer, transferred to a phy ...
into acoustic energy. Aerodynamic energy refers to the airflow through the
vocal tract The vocal tract is the cavity in human bodies and in animals where the sound produced at the sound source (larynx in mammals; syrinx (biology), syrinx in birds) is filtered. In birds it consists of the Vertebrate trachea, trachea, the Syrinx (bio ...
. Its
potential Potential generally refers to a currently unrealized ability. The term is used in a wide variety of fields, from physics to the social sciences to indicate things that are in a state where they are able to change in ways ranging from the simple re ...
form is
air pressure Atmospheric pressure, also known as barometric pressure (after the barometer), is the pressure within the atmosphere of Earth. The Standard atmosphere (unit), standard atmosphere (symbol: atm) is a unit of pressure defined as , which is equival ...
; its kinetic form is the actual
dynamic Dynamics (from Greek language, Greek δυναμικός ''dynamikos'' "powerful", from δύναμις ''dynamis'' "power (disambiguation), power") or dynamic may refer to: Physics and engineering * Dynamics (mechanics) ** Aerodynamics, the study ...
airflow. Acoustic energy is variation in the air pressure that can be represented as
sound waves In physics, sound is a vibration that propagates as an acoustic wave, through a transmission medium such as a gas, liquid or solid. In human physiology and psychology, sound is the ''reception'' of such waves and their ''perception'' by the ...
, which are then perceived by the human
auditory system The auditory system is the sensory system for the sense of hearing. It includes both the ear, sensory organs (the ears) and the auditory parts of the sensory system. System overview The outer ear funnels sound vibrations to the eardrum, incre ...
as sound.
Respiratory sounds Respiratory sounds, also known as lung sounds or breath sounds, refer to the specific sounds generated by the movement of air through the respiratory system. These may be easily audible or identified through auscultation of the respiratory system ...
can be produced by expelling air from the lungs. However, to vary the sound quality in a way useful for speaking, two speech organs normally move towards each other to contact each other to create an obstruction that shapes the air in a particular fashion. The point of maximum obstruction is called the ''
place of articulation In articulatory phonetics, the place of articulation (also point of articulation) of a consonant is a location along the vocal tract where its production occurs. It is a point where a constriction is made between an active and a passive articula ...
'', and the way the obstruction forms and releases is the ''
manner of articulation In articulatory phonetics, the manner of articulation is the configuration and interaction of the articulators (speech organs such as the tongue, lips, and palate) when making a speech sound. One parameter of manner is ''stricture,'' that is, h ...
''. For example, when making a ''p'' sound, the lips come together tightly, blocking the air momentarily and causing a buildup of
air pressure Atmospheric pressure, also known as barometric pressure (after the barometer), is the pressure within the atmosphere of Earth. The Standard atmosphere (unit), standard atmosphere (symbol: atm) is a unit of pressure defined as , which is equival ...
. The lips then release suddenly, causing a burst of sound. The place of articulation of this sound is therefore called ', and the manner is called ' (also known as a ''
plosive In phonetics, a plosive, also known as an occlusive or simply a stop, is a pulmonic consonant in which the vocal tract is manner of articulation, blocked so that all airstream mechanism, airflow ceases. The occlusion may be made with the tongu ...
'').

# Components

The vocal tract can be viewed through an aerodynamic- biomechanic model that includes three main components: # air cavities # pistons # air valves Air cavities are containers of air
molecule A molecule is a group of two or more atoms held together by attractive forces known as chemical bonds; depending on context, the term may or may not include ions which satisfy this criterion. In quantum physics, organic chemistry, and bioche ...
s of specific
volume Volume is a measure of occupied three-dimensional space. It is often quantified numerically using SI derived units (such as the cubic metre and litre) or by various imperial or US customary units (such as the gallon, quart, cubic inch). ...
s and
mass Mass is an Intrinsic and extrinsic properties, intrinsic property of a body. It was traditionally believed to be related to the physical quantity, quantity of matter in a Physical object, physical body, until the discovery of the atom and par ...
es. The main air cavities present in the articulatory system are the supraglottal cavity and the subglottal cavity. They are so-named because the
glottis The glottis is the opening between the vocal folds (the rima glottidis). The glottis is crucial in producing vowels and Voice (phonetics), voiced consonants. Etymology From Ancient Greek ''γλωττίς'' (glōttís), derived from ''γλῶτ ...
, the openable space between the
vocal folds In humans, vocal cords, also known as vocal folds or voice reeds, are folds of throat tissues that are key in creating sounds through vocalization. The size of vocal cords affects the pitch of voice. Open when breathing and vibrating for speech ...
internal to the
larynx The larynx (), commonly called the voice box, is an organ (anatomy), organ in the top of the neck involved in breathing, producing sound and protecting the trachea against food aspiration. The opening of larynx into pharynx known as the laryngeal ...
, separates the two cavities. The supraglottal cavity or the orinasal cavity is divided into an oral subcavity (the cavity from the glottis to the lips excluding the nasal cavity) and a nasal subcavity (the cavity from the velopharyngeal port, which can be closed by raising the velum). The subglottal cavity consists of the
trachea The trachea, also known as the windpipe, is a Cartilage, cartilaginous tube that connects the larynx to the bronchi of the lungs, allowing the passage of air, and so is present in almost all air-breathing animals with lungs. The trachea extends ...
and the
lung The lungs are the primary Organ (anatomy), organs of the respiratory system in humans and most other animals, including some snails and a small number of fish. In mammals and most other vertebrates, two lungs are located near the vertebral co ...
s. The
atmosphere An atmosphere () is a layer of gas or layers of gases that envelop a planet, and is held in place by the gravity of the planetary body. A planet retains an atmosphere when the gravity is great and the temperature of the atmosphere is low. A s ...
external to the articulatory stem may also be considered an air cavity whose potential connecting points with respect to the body are the nostrils and the lips.
Piston A piston is a component of reciprocating engines, reciprocating pumps, gas compressors, hydraulic cylinders and pneumatic cylinders, among other similar mechanisms. It is the moving component that is contained by a cylinder (engine), cylinder a ...
s are initiators. The term ''initiator'' refers to the fact that they are used to initiate a change in the volumes of air cavities, and, by
Boyle's Law Boyle's law, also referred to as the Boyle–Mariotte law, or Mariotte's law (especially in France), is an experimental gas laws, gas law that describes the relationship between pressure and volume of a confined gas. Boyle's law has been stated ...
, the corresponding air
pressure Pressure (symbol: ''p'' or ''P'') is the force applied perpendicular to the surface of an object per unit area over which that force is distributed. Gauge pressure (also spelled ''gage'' pressure)The preferred spelling varies by country and e ...
of the cavity. The term ''initiation'' refers to the change. Since changes in air pressures between connected cavities lead to airflow between the cavities, initiation is also referred to as an ''
airstream mechanism In phonetics, the airstream mechanism is the method by which airflow is created in the vocal tract. Along with phonation and articulation (phonetics), articulation, it is one of three main components of speech production. The airstream mechanism ...
''. The three pistons present in the articulatory system are the larynx, the
tongue The tongue is a muscular organ (anatomy), organ in the mouth of a typical tetrapod. It manipulates food for mastication and swallowing as part of the digestive system, digestive process, and is the primary organ of taste. The tongue's upper surfa ...
body, and the physiological structures used to manipulate lung volume (in particular, the floor and the walls of the
chest The thorax or chest is a part of the anatomy of humans, mammals, and other tetrapod animals located between the neck and the abdomen. In insects, crustaceans, and the extinct trilobites, the thorax is one of the three main Tagma (biology), divis ...
). The lung pistons are used to initiate a pulmonic airstream (found in all human languages). The larynx is used to initiate the glottalic airstream mechanism by changing the volume of the supraglottal and subglottal cavities via vertical movement of the larynx (with a closed glottis). Ejectives and
implosive Implosive consonants are a group of stop consonant In phonetics, a plosive, also known as an occlusive or simply a stop, is a pulmonic consonant in which the vocal tract is blocked so that all airflow ceases. The occlusion may be made ...
s are made with this airstream mechanism. The tongue body creates a velaric airstream by changing the pressure within the oral cavity: the tongue body changes the mouth subcavity.
Click consonant Click consonants, or clicks, are speech sounds that occur as consonants in many languages of Southern Africa and in three languages of East Africa. Examples familiar to English language, English-speakers are the ''tut-tut'' (British spelling) or ...
s use the velaric airstream mechanism. Pistons are controlled by various
muscle Skeletal muscles (commonly referred to as muscles) are Organ (biology), organs of the vertebrate muscular system and typically are attached by tendons to bones of a skeleton. The muscle cells of skeletal muscles are much longer than in the other ...
s.
Valve A valve is a device or Heart valve, natural object that regulates, directs or controls the flow of a fluid (gases, liquids, fluidized solids, or slurries) by opening, closing, or partially obstructing various passageways. Valves are technical ...
s regulate airflow between cavities. Airflow occurs when an air valve is open and there is a pressure difference between the connecting cavities. When an air valve is closed, there is no airflow. The air valves are the vocal folds (the glottis), which regulate between the supraglottal and subglottal cavities, the velopharyngeal port, which regulates between the oral and nasal cavities, the tongue, which regulates between the oral cavity and the atmosphere, and the lips, which also regulate between the oral cavity and the atmosphere. Like the pistons, the air valves are also controlled by various muscles.

# Initiation

To produce any kind of sound, there must be movement of air. To produce sounds that people can interpret as spoken words, the movement of air must pass through the vocal cords, up through the throat and, into the mouth or nose to then leave the body. Different sounds are formed by different positions of the mouth—or, as linguists call it, "the oral cavity" (to distinguish it from the nasal cavity).

# Consonants

Consonants are speech sounds that are articulated with a complete or partial closure of the
vocal tract The vocal tract is the cavity in human bodies and in animals where the sound produced at the sound source (larynx in mammals; syrinx (biology), syrinx in birds) is filtered. In birds it consists of the Vertebrate trachea, trachea, the Syrinx (bio ...
. They are generally produced by the modification of an airstream exhaled from the lungs. The respiratory organs used to create and modify airflow are divided into three regions: the vocal tract (supralaryngeal), the
larynx The larynx (), commonly called the voice box, is an organ (anatomy), organ in the top of the neck involved in breathing, producing sound and protecting the trachea against food aspiration. The opening of larynx into pharynx known as the laryngeal ...
, and the subglottal system. The airstream can be either egressive (out of the vocal tract) or ingressive (into the vocal tract). In pulmonic sounds, the airstream is produced by the lungs in the subglottal system and passes through the larynx and vocal tract. Glottalic sounds use an airstream created by movements of the larynx without airflow from the lungs. Click consonants are articulated through the
rarefaction Rarefaction is the reduction of an item's density, the opposite of compression (physical), compression. Like compression, which can travel in waves (sound waves, for instance), rarefaction waves also exist in nature. A common rarefaction wave is ...
of air using the tongue, followed by releasing the forward closure of the tongue.

## Place of articulation

Consonants are pronounced in the vocal tract, usually in the mouth. In order to describe the place of articulation, the active and passive articulator need to be known. In most cases, the active articulators are the lips and tongue. The passive articulator is the surface on which the constriction is created. Constrictions made by the lips are called labials. Constrictions can be made in several parts of the vocal tract, broadly classified into coronal, dorsal and radical places of articulation. Coronal articulations are made with the front of the tongue, dorsal articulations are made with the back of the tongue, and
radical Radical may refer to: Politics and ideology Politics *Radical politics, the political intent of fundamental societal change *Radicalism (historical), the Radical Movement that began in late 18th century Britain and spread to continental Europe and ...
pharynx The pharynx (plural: pharynges) is the part of the throat behind the mouth and nasal cavity The nasal cavity is a large, air-filled space above and behind the human nose, nose in the middle of the face. The nasal septum divides the cavity int ...
. These divisions are not sufficient for distinguishing and describing all speech sounds. For example, in English the sounds and are both coronal, but they are produced in different places of the mouth. To account for this, more detailed places of articulation are needed based upon the area of the mouth in which the constriction occurs.

### Labial consonants

Articulations involving the lips can be made in three different ways: with both lips (bilabial), with one lip and the teeth (labiodental), and with the tongue and the upper lip (linguolabial). Depending on the definition used, some or all of these kinds of articulations may be categorized into the class of labial articulations. Ladefoged and Maddieson (1996) propose that linguolabial articulations be considered coronals rather than labials, but make clear this grouping, like all groupings of articulations, is equivocal and not cleanly divided. Linguolabials are included in this section as labials given their use of the lips as a place of articulation.
Bilabial consonant In phonetics, a bilabial consonant is a labial consonant place of articulation, articulated with both lips. Frequency Bilabial consonants are very common across languages. Only around 0.7% of the world's languages lack bilabial consonants altog ...
s are made with both lips. In producing these sounds the lower lip moves farthest to meet the upper lip, which also moves down slightly, though in some cases the force from air moving through the aperture (opening between the lips) may cause the lips to separate faster than they can come together. Unlike most other articulations, both articulators are made from soft tissue, and so bilabial stops are more likely to be produced with incomplete closures than articulations involving hard surfaces like the teeth or palate. Bilabial stops are also unusual in that an articulator in the upper section of the vocal tract actively moves downwards, as the upper lip shows some active downward movement.
Labiodental consonant In phonetics, labiodentals are consonants Place of articulation, articulated with the lower lip and the upper teeth. Labiodental consonants in the IPA The labiodental consonants identified by the International Phonetic Alphabet are: The IPA c ...
s are made by the lower lip rising to the upper teeth. Labiodental consonants are most often
fricative A fricative is a consonant manner of articulation, produced by forcing air through a narrow channel made by placing two Place of articulation, articulators close together. These may be the lower lip against the upper teeth, in the case of ; the ba ...
s while labiodental nasals are also typologically common. There is debate as to whether true labiodental
plosive In phonetics, a plosive, also known as an occlusive or simply a stop, is a pulmonic consonant in which the vocal tract is manner of articulation, blocked so that all airstream mechanism, airflow ceases. The occlusion may be made with the tongu ...
s occur in any natural language, though a number of languages are reported to have labiodental plosives including Zulu,
Tonga Tonga (, ; ), officially the Kingdom of Tonga ( to, Puleʻanga Fakatuʻi ʻo Tonga), is a Polynesia, Polynesian country and archipelago. The country has List of islands and towns in Tonga, 171 islands – of which 45 are inhabited. Its tota ...
, and Shubi. Labiodental
affricate An affricate is a consonant that begins as a stop consonant, stop and releases as a fricative consonant, fricative, generally with the same place of articulation (most often coronal consonant, coronal). It is often difficult to decide if a stop a ...
s are reported in Tsonga which would require the stop portion of the affricate to be a labiodental stop, though Ladefoged and Maddieson (1996) raise the possibility that labiodental affricates involve a bilabial closure like "pf" in German. Unlike plosives and affricates, labiodental nasals are common across languages.
Linguolabial consonant Linguolabials or apicolabials are consonants place of articulation, articulated by placing the tongue tip or blade against the upper lip, which is drawn downward to meet the tongue. They represent one extreme of a coronal articulatory continuum ...
s are made with the blade of the tongue approaching or contacting the upper lip. Like in bilabial articulations, the upper lip moves slightly towards the more active articulator. Articulations in this group do not have their own symbols in the International Phonetic Alphabet, rather, they are formed by combining an apical symbol with a diacritic implicitly placing them in the coronal category. They exist in a number of languages indigenous to
Vanuatu Vanuatu ( or ; ), officially the Republic of Vanuatu (french: link=no, République de Vanuatu; bi, Ripablik blong Vanuatu), is an island country located in the South Pacific Ocean. The archipelago, which is of volcanic origin, is east of no ...
such as Tangoa, though early descriptions referred to them as apical-labial consonants. The name "linguolabial" was suggested by Floyd Lounsbury given that they are produced with the blade rather than the tip of the tongue.

### Coronal consonants

Coronal consonants are made with the tip or blade of the tongue and, because of the agility of the front of the tongue, represent a variety not only in place but in the posture of the tongue. The coronal places of articulation represent the areas of the mouth where the tongue contacts or makes a constriction, and include dental, alveolar, and post-alveolar locations. Tongue postures using the tip of the tongue can be apical if using the top of the tongue tip,
laminal A laminal consonant is a phone (phonetics), phone (speech sound) produced by obstructing the air passage with the tongue blade, blade of the tongue, the flat top front surface just behind the tip of the tongue in contact with upper lip, teeth, ...
if made with the blade of the tongue, or sub-apical if the tongue tip is curled back and the bottom of the tongue is used. Coronals are unique as a group in that every
manner of articulation In articulatory phonetics, the manner of articulation is the configuration and interaction of the articulators (speech organs such as the tongue, lips, and palate) when making a speech sound. One parameter of manner is ''stricture,'' that is, h ...
is attested.
Australian languages The Indigenous languages of Australia number in the hundreds, the precise number being quite uncertain, although there is a range of estimates from a minimum of around 250 (using the technical definition of 'language' as non-mutually intellig ...
are well known for the large number of coronal contrasts exhibited within and across languages in the region.
Dental consonant A dental consonant is a consonant place of articulation, articulated with the tongue against the upper teeth, such as , . In some languages, dentals are distinguished from other groups, such as alveolar consonants, in which the tongue contacts t ...
s are made with the tip or blade of the tongue and the upper teeth. They are divided into two groups based upon the part of the tongue used to produce them: apical dental consonants are produced with the tongue tip touching the teeth; interdental consonants are produced with the blade of the tongue as the tip of the tongue sticks out in front of the teeth. No language is known to use both contrastively though they may exist allophonically.
Alveolar consonant Alveolar (; UK also ) consonants are place of articulation, articulated with the tongue against or close to the superior alveolar ridge, which is called that because it contains the Dental alveolus, alveoli (the sockets) of the upper teeth. Alve ...
s are made with the tip or blade of the tongue at the alveolar ridge just behind the teeth and can similarly be apical or laminal. Crosslinguistically, dental consonants and alveolar consonants are frequently contrasted leading to a number of generalizations of crosslinguistic patterns. The different places of articulation tend to also be contrasted in the part of the tongue used to produce them: most languages with dental stops have laminal dentals, while languages with alveolar stops usually have apical stops. Languages rarely have two consonants in the same place with a contrast in laminality, though Taa (ǃXóõ) is a counterexample to this pattern. If a language has only one of a dental stop or an alveolar stop, it will usually be laminal if it is a dental stop, and the stop will usually be apical if it is an alveolar stop, though for example Temne and Bulgarian do not follow this pattern. If a language has both an apical and laminal stop, then the laminal stop is more likely to be affricated like in Isoko, though Dahalo show the opposite pattern with alveolar stops being more affricated.
Retroflex consonant A retroflex ( /ˈɹɛtʃɹoːflɛks/), apico-domal ( /əpɪkoːˈdɔmɪnəl/), or cacuminal () consonant is a coronal consonant where the tongue has a flat, concave, or even curled shape, and is articulated between the alveolar ridge and the ...
s have several different definitions depending on whether the position of the tongue or the position on the roof of the mouth is given prominence. In general, they represent a group of articulations in which the tip of the tongue is curled upwards to some degree. In this way, retroflex articulations can occur in several different locations on the roof of the mouth including alveolar, post-alveolar, and palatal regions. If the underside of the tongue tip makes contact with the roof of the mouth, it is sub-apical though apical post-alveolar sounds are also described as retroflex. Typical examples of sub-apical retroflex stops are commonly found in
Dravidian languages The Dravidian languages (or sometimes Dravidic) are a language family, family of languages spoken by 250 million people, mainly in South India, southern India, north-east Sri Lanka, and south-west Pakistan. Since the colonial era, there have b ...
, and in some languages indigenous to the southwest United States the contrastive difference between dental and alveolar stops is a slight retroflexion of the alveolar stop. Acoustically, retroflexion tends to affect the higher formants. Articulations taking place just behind the alveolar ridge, known as
post-alveolar consonant Postalveolar or post-alveolar consonants are consonants place of articulation, articulated with the tongue near or touching the ''back'' of the alveolar ridge. Articulation is farther back in the mouth than the alveolar consonants, which are at t ...
s, have been referred to using a number of different terms. Apical post-alveolar consonants are often called retroflex, while laminal articulations are sometimes called palato-alveolar; in the Australianist literature, these laminal stops are often described as 'palatal' though they are produced further forward than the palate region typically described as palatal. Because of individual anatomical variation, the precise articulation of palato-alveolar stops (and coronals in general) can vary widely within a speech community.

### Dorsal consonants

Dorsal consonants are those consonants made using the tongue body rather than the tip or blade. Palatal consonants are made using the tongue body against the hard palate on the roof of the mouth. They are frequently contrasted with velar or uvular consonants, though it is rare for a language to contrast all three simultaneously, with Jaqaru as a possible example of a three-way contrast. Velar consonants are made using the tongue body against the velum. They are incredibly common cross-linguistically; almost all languages have a velar stop. Because both velars and vowels are made using the tongue body, they are highly affected by
coarticulation Coarticulation in its general sense refers to a situation in which a conceptually isolated speech sound is influenced by, and becomes more like, a preceding or following speech sound. There are two types of coarticulation: ''anticipatory coarticulat ...
with vowels and can be produced as far forward as the hard palate or as far back as the uvula. These variations are typically divided into front, central, and back velars in parallel with the vowel space. They can be hard to distinguish phonetically from palatal consonants, though are produced slightly behind the area of prototypical palatal consonants. Uvular consonants are made by the tongue body contacting or approaching the uvula. They are rare, occurring in an estimated 19 percent of languages, and large regions of the Americas and Africa have no languages with uvular consonants. In languages with uvular consonants, stops are most frequent followed by
continuant In phonetics, a continuant is a speech sound manner of articulation, produced without a complete closure in the oral cavity, namely fricatives, approximants, vowels, and Trill consonant, trills. While vowels are included in continuants, the term ...
s (including nasals).

Radical consonants either use the root of the tongue or the
epiglottis The epiglottis is a leaf-shaped flap in the throat that prevents food and water from entering the trachea and the lungs. It stays open during breathing, allowing air into the larynx. During swallowing, it closes to prevent pulmonary aspiration, a ...
during production.
Pharyngeal consonant A pharyngeal consonant is a consonant that is place of articulation, articulated primarily in the pharynx. Some phoneticians distinguish upper pharyngeal consonants, or "high" pharyngeals, pronounced by retracting the root of the tongue in the ...
s are made by retracting the root of the tongue far enough to touch the wall of the
pharynx The pharynx (plural: pharynges) is the part of the throat behind the mouth and nasal cavity The nasal cavity is a large, air-filled space above and behind the human nose, nose in the middle of the face. The nasal septum divides the cavity int ...
. Due to production difficulties, only fricatives and approximants can produced this way. Epiglottal consonants are made with the epiglottis and the back wall of the pharynx. Epiglottal stops have been recorded in Dahalo. Voiced epiglottal consonants are not deemed possible due to the cavity between the
glottis The glottis is the opening between the vocal folds (the rima glottidis). The glottis is crucial in producing vowels and Voice (phonetics), voiced consonants. Etymology From Ancient Greek ''γλωττίς'' (glōttís), derived from ''γλῶτ ...
and epiglottis being too small to permit voicing.

### Glottal consonants

Glottal consonants are those produced using the vocal folds in the larynx. Because the vocal folds are the source of phonation and below the oro-nasal vocal tract, a number of glottal consonants are impossible such as a voiced glottal stop. Three glottal consonants are possible, a voiceless glottal stop and two glottal fricatives, and all are attested in natural languages.
Glottal stop The glottal plosive or stop is a type of consonantal sound used in many Speech communication, spoken languages, produced by obstructing airflow in the vocal tract or, more precisely, the glottis. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabe ...
s, produced by closing the
vocal folds In humans, vocal cords, also known as vocal folds or voice reeds, are folds of throat tissues that are key in creating sounds through vocalization. The size of vocal cords affects the pitch of voice. Open when breathing and vibrating for speech ...
, are notably common in the world's languages. While many languages use them to demarcate phrase boundaries, some languages like Huatla Mazatec have them as contrastive phonemes. Additionally, glottal stops can be realized as laryngealization of the following vowel in this language. Glottal stops, especially between vowels, do usually not form a complete closure. True glottal stops normally occur only when they're geminated.

## Manner of articulation

Knowing the place of articulation is not enough to fully describe a consonant, the way in which the stricture happens is equally important. Manners of articulation describe how exactly the active articulator modifies, narrows or closes off the vocal tract. Stops (also referred to as plosives) are consonants where the airstream is completely obstructed. Pressure builds up in the mouth during the stricture, which is then released as a small burst of sound when the articulators move apart. The velum is raised so that air cannot flow through the nasal cavity. If the velum is lowered and allows for air to flow through the nose, the result in a nasal stop. However, phoneticians almost always refer to nasal stops as just "nasals". Affricates are a sequence of stops followed by a fricative in the same place.
Fricatives A fricative is a consonant manner of articulation, produced by forcing air through a narrow channel made by placing two Place of articulation, articulators close together. These may be the lower lip against the upper teeth, in the case of ; the ba ...
are consonants where the airstream is made turbulent by partially, but not completely, obstructing part of the vocal tract.
Sibilant Sibilants are fricative consonants of higher amplitude and pitch, made by directing a stream of air with the tongue towards the teeth. Examples of sibilants are the consonants at the beginning of the English words ''sip'', ''zip'', ''ship'', ...
s are a special type of fricative where the turbulent airstream is directed towards the teeth, creating a high-pitched hissing sound. Nasals (sometimes referred to as nasal stops) are consonants in which there's a closure in the oral cavity and the velum is lowered, allowing air to flow through the nose. In an
approximant Approximants are phone (phonetics), speech sounds that involve the Speech organ, articulators approaching each other but not narrowly enough nor with enough articulatory precision to create manner of articulation, turbulent airflow. Therefore, ap ...
, the articulators come close together, but not to such an extent that allows a turbulent airstream. Laterals are consonants in which the airstream is obstructed along the center of the vocal tract, allowing the airstream to flow freely on one or both sides. Laterals have also been defined as consonants in which the tongue is contracted in such a way that the airstream is greater around the sides than over the center of the tongue. The first definition does not allow for air to flow over the tongue. Trills are consonants in which the tongue or lips are set in motion by the airstream. The stricture is formed in such a way that the airstream causes a repeating pattern of opening and closing of the soft articulator(s). Apical trills typically consist of two or three periods of vibration. Taps and flaps are single, rapid, usually apical gestures where the tongue is thrown against the roof of the mouth, comparable to a very rapid stop. These terms are sometimes used interchangeably, but some phoneticians make a distinction. In a tap, the tongue contacts the roof in a single motion whereas in a flap the tongue moves tangentially to the roof of the mouth, striking it in passing. During a glottalic airstream mechanism, the glottis is closed, trapping a body of air. This allows for the remaining air in the vocal tract to be moved separately. An upward movement of the closed glottis will move this air out, resulting in it an
ejective consonant In phonetics, ejective consonants are usually voiceless consonants that are pronounced with a Airstream mechanism#Glottalic initiation, glottalic egressive airstream. In the phonology of a particular language, ejectives may contrast with Aspirat ...
. Alternatively, the glottis can lower, sucking more air into the mouth, which results in an
implosive consonant Implosive consonants are a group of stop consonants (and possibly also some affricates) with a mixed glottalic ingressive and pulmonic egressive airstream mechanism.''Phonetics for communication disorders.'' Martin J. Ball and Nicole Müller. Rou ...
. Clicks are stops in which tongue movement causes air to be sucked in the mouth, this is referred to as a velaric airstream. During the click, the air becomes rarefied between two articulatory closures, producing a loud 'click' sound when the anterior closure is released. The release of the anterior closure is referred to as the click influx. The release of the posterior closure, which can be velar or uvular, is the click efflux. Clicks are used in several African language families, such as the
Khoisan Khoisan , or (), according to the contemporary Khoekhoegowab orthography, is a catch-all term for those Indigenous peoples of Africa, indigenous peoples of Southern Africa who do not speak one of the Bantu languages, combining the (formerly " ...
and Bantu languages.

# Vowels

Vowels are produced by the passage of air through the
larynx The larynx (), commonly called the voice box, is an organ (anatomy), organ in the top of the neck involved in breathing, producing sound and protecting the trachea against food aspiration. The opening of larynx into pharynx known as the laryngeal ...
and the
vocal tract The vocal tract is the cavity in human bodies and in animals where the sound produced at the sound source (larynx in mammals; syrinx (biology), syrinx in birds) is filtered. In birds it consists of the Vertebrate trachea, trachea, the Syrinx (bio ...
. Most vowels are
voiced Voice or voicing is a term used in phonetics and phonology to characterize speech sounds (usually consonants). Speech sounds can be described as either voicelessness, voiceless (otherwise known as ''unvoiced'') or voiced. The term, however, i ...
(i.e. the vocal folds are vibrating). Except in some marginal cases, the vocal tract is open, so that the airstream is able to escape without generating fricative noise. Variation in vowel quality is produced by means of the following articulatory structures:

# Articulators

## Glottis

The
glottis The glottis is the opening between the vocal folds (the rima glottidis). The glottis is crucial in producing vowels and Voice (phonetics), voiced consonants. Etymology From Ancient Greek ''γλωττίς'' (glōttís), derived from ''γλῶτ ...
is the opening between the vocal folds located in the
larynx The larynx (), commonly called the voice box, is an organ (anatomy), organ in the top of the neck involved in breathing, producing sound and protecting the trachea against food aspiration. The opening of larynx into pharynx known as the laryngeal ...
. Its position creates different vibration patterns to distinguish voiced and voiceless sounds."Laver, John ''Principles of Phonetics'', 1994, Cambridge University Press In addition, the pitch of the vowel is changed by altering the frequency of vibration of the
vocal folds In humans, vocal cords, also known as vocal folds or voice reeds, are folds of throat tissues that are key in creating sounds through vocalization. The size of vocal cords affects the pitch of voice. Open when breathing and vibrating for speech ...
. In some languages there are contrasts among vowels with different
phonation The term phonation has slightly different meanings depending on the subfield of phonetics. Among some phoneticians, ''phonation'' is the process by which the vocal folds produce certain sounds through quasi-periodic vibration. This is the def ...
types."Peter Ladefoged and Ian Maddieson ''The Sounds of the World's Languages'', 1996, Blackwell;

## Pharynx

The pharynx is the region of the vocal tract below the velum and above the larynx. Vowels may be made pharyngealized (also ''epiglottalized'', ''sphincteric'' or ''strident'') by means of a retraction of the tongue root. Vowels may also be articulated with advanced tongue root. There is discussion of whether this vowel feature (ATR) is different from the Tense/Lax distinction in vowels.

## Velum

The velum—or soft palate—controls airflow through the nasal cavity. Nasals and nasalized sounds are produced by lowering the velum and allowing air to escape through the nose. Vowels are normally produced with the
soft palate The soft palate (also known as the velum, palatal velum, or muscular palate) is, in mammals, the soft biological tissue, tissue constituting the back of the roof of the mouth. The soft palate is part of the palate of the mouth; the other part is ...
raised so that no air escapes through the nose. However, vowels may be nasalized as a result of lowering the soft palate. Many languages use nasalization contrastively.

## Tongue

The tongue is a highly flexible organ that is capable of being moved in many different ways. For vowel articulation the principal variations are
vowel height A vowel is a Syllable, syllabic speech sound pronounced without any stricture in the vocal tract. Vowels are one of the two principal classes of speech sounds, the other being the consonant. Vowels vary in quality, in loudness and also in Vowel ...
and the dimension of backness and frontness. A less common variation in vowel quality can be produced by a change in the shape of the front of the tongue, resulting in a rhotic or rhotacized vowel.

## Lips

The lips play a major role in vowel articulation. It is generally believed that two major variables are in effect: lip-rounding (or labialization) and lip protrusion.

# Airflow

For all practical purposes,
temperature Temperature is a physical quantity that expresses quantitatively the perceptions of hotness and coldness. Temperature is measurement, measured with a thermometer. Thermometers are calibrated in various Conversion of units of temperature, temp ...
can be treated as constant in the articulatory system. Thus,
Boyle's Law Boyle's law, also referred to as the Boyle–Mariotte law, or Mariotte's law (especially in France), is an experimental gas laws, gas law that describes the relationship between pressure and volume of a confined gas. Boyle's law has been stated ...
can usefully be written as the following two equations. : $P_1 V_1 = P_2 V_2 \,$ : $\frac=\frac$ What the above equations express is that given an initial
pressure Pressure (symbol: ''p'' or ''P'') is the force applied perpendicular to the surface of an object per unit area over which that force is distributed. Gauge pressure (also spelled ''gage'' pressure)The preferred spelling varies by country and e ...
''P''1 and
volume Volume is a measure of occupied three-dimensional space. It is often quantified numerically using SI derived units (such as the cubic metre and litre) or by various imperial or US customary units (such as the gallon, quart, cubic inch). ...
''V''1 at time 1 the
product Product may refer to: Business * Product (business), an item that serves as a solution to a specific consumer problem. * Product (project management), a deliverable or set of deliverables that contribute to a business solution Mathematics * Pr ...
of these two values will be equal to the product of the pressure ''P''2 and volume ''V''2 at a later time 2. This means that if there is an increase in the volume of cavity, there will be a corresponding decrease in pressure of that same cavity, and vice versa. In other words, volume and pressure are
inversely proportional In mathematics, two sequences of numbers, often experimental data, are proportional or directly proportional if their corresponding elements have a Constant (mathematics), constant ratio, which is called the coefficient of proportionality or p ...
(or negatively correlated) to each other. As applied to a description of the subglottal cavity, when the lung pistons contract the lungs, the volume of the subglottal cavity decreases while the subglottal air pressure increases. Conversely, if the lungs are expanded, the pressure decreases. A situation can be considered where (1) the vocal fold valve is closed separating the supraglottal cavity from the subglottal cavity, (2) the mouth is open and, therefore, supraglottal air pressure is equal to atmospheric pressure, and (3) the lungs are contracted resulting in a subglottal pressure that has increased to a pressure that is greater than atmospheric pressure. If the vocal fold valve is subsequently opened, the previously two separate cavities become one unified cavity although the cavities will still be aerodynamically isolated because the glottic valve between them is relatively small and constrictive. Pascal's Law states that the pressure within a system must be equal throughout the system. When the subglottal pressure is greater than supraglottal pressure, there is a pressure inequality in the unified cavity. Since pressure is a
force In physics, a force is an influence that can change the motion of an Physical object, object. A force can cause an object with mass to change its velocity (e.g. moving from a Newton's first law, state of rest), i.e., to accelerate. Force can ...
applied to a
surface area The surface area of a solid object is a measure of the total area Area is the quantity that expresses the extent of a region on the plane or on a curved surface. The area of a plane region or ''plane area'' refers to the area of a s ...
by definition and a force is the product of
mass Mass is an Intrinsic and extrinsic properties, intrinsic property of a body. It was traditionally believed to be related to the physical quantity, quantity of matter in a Physical object, physical body, until the discovery of the atom and par ...
and
acceleration In mechanics, acceleration is the Rate (mathematics), rate of change of the velocity of an object with respect to time. Accelerations are Euclidean vector, vector quantities (in that they have Magnitude (mathematics), magnitude and Direction ...
according to
Newton's Second Law of Motion Newton's laws of motion are three basic Scientific law, laws of classical mechanics that describe the relationship between the motion of an object and the forces acting on it. These laws can be paraphrased as follows: # A body remains at re ...
, the pressure inequality will be resolved by having part of the mass in air
molecule A molecule is a group of two or more atoms held together by attractive forces known as chemical bonds; depending on context, the term may or may not include ions which satisfy this criterion. In quantum physics, organic chemistry, and bioche ...
s found in the subglottal cavity move to the supraglottal cavity. This movement of mass is airflow. The airflow will continue until a pressure equilibrium is reached. Similarly, in an
ejective consonant In phonetics, ejective consonants are usually voiceless consonants that are pronounced with a Airstream mechanism#Glottalic initiation, glottalic egressive airstream. In the phonology of a particular language, ejectives may contrast with Aspirat ...
with a glottalic
airstream mechanism In phonetics, the airstream mechanism is the method by which airflow is created in the vocal tract. Along with phonation and articulation (phonetics), articulation, it is one of three main components of speech production. The airstream mechanism ...
, the lips or the tongue (i.e., the buccal or lingual valve) are initially closed and the closed glottis (the laryngeal piston) is raised decreasing the oral cavity volume behind the valve closure and increasing the pressure compared to the volume and pressure at a resting state. When the closed valve is opened, airflow will result from the cavity behind the initial closure outward until intraoral pressure is equal to
atmospheric pressure Atmospheric pressure, also known as barometric pressure (after the barometer), is the pressure within the atmosphere of Earth. The Standard atmosphere (unit), standard atmosphere (symbol: atm) is a unit of pressure defined as , which is equival ...
. That is, air will flow from a cavity of higher pressure to a cavity of lower pressure until the equilibrium point; the pressure as
potential energy In physics, potential energy is the energy held by an object because of its position relative to other objects, stresses within itself, its electric charge, or other factors. Common types of potential energy include the gravitational potentia ...
is, thus, converted into airflow as
kinetic energy In physics Physics is the natural science that studies matter, its Elementary particle, fundamental constituents, its motion and behavior through Spacetime, space and time, and the related entities of energy and force. "Physical sci ...
.

# Sound sources

Sound sources refer to the conversion of aerodynamic energy into acoustic energy. There are two main types of sound sources in the articulatory system: periodic (or more precisely semi-periodic) and aperiodic. A periodic sound source is vocal fold vibration produced at the glottis found in vowels and voiced consonants. A less common periodic sound source is the vibration of an oral articulator like the tongue found in alveolar trills. Aperiodic sound sources are the turbulent noise of fricative consonants and the short-noise burst of plosive releases produced in the oral cavity. Voicing is a common period sound source in spoken language and is related to how closely the vocal cords are placed together. In English there are only two possibilities, ''voiced'' and ''unvoiced''. Voicing is caused by the vocal cords held close by each other, so that air passing through them makes them vibrate. All normally spoken vowels are voiced, as are all other sonorants except ''h'', as well as some of the remaining sounds (''b'', ''d'', ''g'', ''v'', ''z'', ''zh'', ''j'', and the ''th'' sound in ''this''). All the rest are voiceless sounds, with the vocal cords held far enough apart that there is no vibration; however, there is still a certain amount of audible friction, as in the sound ''h''. Voiceless sounds are not very prominent unless there is some turbulence, as in the stops, fricatives, and affricates; this is why sonorants in general only occur voiced. The exception is during
whispering Whispering is an unvoiced mode of phonation in which the vocal cords are Abduction (anatomy), abducted so that they do not vibrate; air passes between the arytenoid cartilages to create audible turbulence during speech. Supralaryngeal Manner ...
, when all sounds pronounced are voiceless.

## Periodic sources

* Non-vocal fold vibration: 20–40
hertz The hertz (symbol: Hz) is the unit of frequency in the International System of Units (SI), equivalent to one event (or Cycle per second, cycle) per second. The hertz is an SI derived unit whose expression in terms of SI base units is s−1, me ...
(cycles per second) * Vocal fold vibration ** Lower limit: 70–80 Hz modal (bass), 30–40 Hz creaky ** Upper limit: 1170 Hz (soprano)

### Vocal fold vibration

*
larynx The larynx (), commonly called the voice box, is an organ (anatomy), organ in the top of the neck involved in breathing, producing sound and protecting the trachea against food aspiration. The opening of larynx into pharynx known as the laryngeal ...
: **
cricoid cartilage The cricoid cartilage , or simply cricoid (from the Greek ''krikoeides'' meaning "ring-shaped") or cricoid ring, is the only complete ring of cartilage around the Vertebrate trachea, trachea. It forms the back part of the larynx, voice box and fun ...
**
thyroid cartilage The thyroid cartilage is the largest of the nine cartilages that make up the ''laryngeal skeleton'', the cartilage structure in and around the Vertebrate trachea, trachea that contains the larynx. It does not completely encircle the larynx (only th ...
**
arytenoid cartilage The arytenoid cartilages () are a pair of small three-sided pyramid A pyramid (from el, πυραμίς ') is a Nonbuilding structure, structure whose outer surfaces are triangular and converge to a single step at the top, making the shape r ...
** interarytenoid muscles (fold adduction) ** posterior cricoarytenoid muscle (fold abduction) ** lateral cricoarytenoid muscle (fold shortening/stiffening) ** thyroarytenoid muscle (medial compression/fold stiffening, internal to folds) **
cricothyroid muscle The cricothyroid muscle is the only tensor muscle of the larynx aiding with phonation. It is innervated by the superior laryngeal nerve. Its action tilts the thyroid forward to help tense the vocal cords. Structure The cricothyroid muscle orig ...
(fold lengthening) **
hyoid bone The hyoid bone (lingual bone or tongue-bone) () is a horseshoe-shaped bone A bone is a rigid organ Organ may refer to: Biology * Organ (biology), a part of an organism Musical instruments * Organ (music), a family of keyboard musical ...
**
sternothyroid muscle The sternothyroid muscle, or sternothyroideus, is an Infrahyoid muscles, infrahyoid muscle in the neck. It acts to depress the hyoid bone. It is below the sternohyoid muscle. It is shorter and wider than the sternohyoid. Structure The sternothyr ...
(lowers thyroid) **
sternohyoid muscle The sternohyoid muscle is a thin, narrow muscle attaching the hyoid bone to the Human sternum, sternum. It is one of the paired strap muscles of the infrahyoid muscles. It is supplied by the ansa cervicalis. It depresses the hyoid bone. Structure ...
(lowers hyoid) ** stylohyoid muscle (raises hyoid) ** digastric muscle (raises hyoid)

# Experimental techniques

* Plethysmography *
Electromyography Electromyography (EMG) is a technique for evaluating and recording the electrical activity produced by skeletal muscles. EMG is performed using an instrument called an electromyograph to produce a record called an electromyogram. An electromyo ...
* Photoglottography * Electrolaryngography *
Magnetic resonance imaging Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a medical imaging technique used in radiology to form pictures of the anatomy and the physiological processes of the body. Physics of magnetic resonance imaging#MRI scanner, MRI scanners use strong magnetic ...
(
MRI Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a medical imaging technique used in radiology to form pictures of the anatomy and the physiological processes of the body. Physics of magnetic resonance imaging#MRI scanner, MRI scanners use strong magnetic ...
) / Real-time MRI. *
Radiography Radiography is an imaging technology, imaging technique using X-rays, gamma rays, or similar ionizing radiation and non-ionizing radiation to view the internal form of an object. Applications of radiography include medical radiography ("diagnos ...
*
Medical ultrasonography Medical ultrasound includes diagnostic techniques (mainly medical imaging, imaging techniques) using ultrasound, as well as therapeutic ultrasound, therapeutic applications of ultrasound. In diagnosis, it is used to create an image of internal ...
* Electromagnetic articulography * Aerometry *
Endoscopy An endoscopy is a procedure used in medicine to look inside the body. The endoscopy procedure uses an endoscope to examine the interior of a hollow organ or cavity of the body. Unlike many other medical imaging techniques, endoscopes are insert ...
* Videokymography

## Palatography

In order to understand how sounds are made, experimental procedures are often adopted. Palatography is one of the oldest instrumental phonetic techniques used to record data regarding articulators. In traditional, static palatography, a speaker's palate is coated with a dark powder. The speaker then produces a word, usually with a single consonant. The tongue wipes away some of the powder at the place of articulation. The experimenter can then use a mirror to photograph the entire upper surface of the speaker's mouth. This photograph, in which the place of articulation can be seen as the area where the powder has been removed, is called a palatogram.Palatography
/ref> Technology has since made possible electropalatography (or EPG). In order to collect EPG data, the speaker is fitted with a special prosthetic palate, which contains a number of electrodes. The way in which the electrodes are "contacted" by the tongue during speech provides phoneticians with important information, such as how much of the palate is contacted in different speech sounds, or which regions of the palate are contacted, or what the duration of the contact is.

*
Index of phonetics articles A * Acoustic phonetics * Active articulator * Affricate * Airstream mechanism * Alexander John Ellis * Alexander Melville Bell * Alfred C. Gimson * Allophone * Alveolar approximant () * Alveolar click () * Alveolar consonant * Alveolar ejective ...
*
Manner of articulation In articulatory phonetics, the manner of articulation is the configuration and interaction of the articulators (speech organs such as the tongue, lips, and palate) when making a speech sound. One parameter of manner is ''stricture,'' that is, h ...
*
Place of articulation In articulatory phonetics, the place of articulation (also point of articulation) of a consonant is a location along the vocal tract where its production occurs. It is a point where a constriction is made between an active and a passive articula ...
*
Basis of articulation In phonetics Phonetics is a branch of linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of human language. It is called a scientific study because it entails a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise analysis of all aspects of l ...
* Vowel * Consonant * International Phonetic Alphabet * Articulatory phonology * Airstream mechanism * Human voice * Phonation * Relative articulation * Source–filter model * Vocal tract

# References

## Citations

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *