From Wikibooks, open books for an open world
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Overview[edit | edit source]

Phonetics refers to the physical production of speech sounds, the acoustic properties of speech sounds, and certain aspects of how speech sounds are perceived. Many researchers contrast phonetics with phonology, where phonology is supposed to deal with the mental representation of speech sounds, and the grammar which maps lexical representations to phonetic categories.

The chapter is organized into four parts. Part I covers the anatomy and physiology of the vocal tract -- the names for the parts. Part II covers articulation -- how speech sounds are produced. Part III covers acoustics -- properties of the sound waves that are generated by different kinds of speech sounds. Part IV covers perception -- how listeners recover the speech sounds that were produced from sound waves. The remainder of this overview gives an extremely brief overview of how speech works.

In vowels, the larynx is a 'source' which converts air pressure into a series of soud waves, generating the 'pitch'. The upper vocal tract shapes and molds the sound originating from the larynx, causing some integer multiples of the fundamental frequency ('harmonics') to resonate ('formants'). Vowel quality is primarily determined by how wide open the mouth is (jaw height), whether the tongue comes closer to the roof of the mouth at the hard palate (front) or soft palate (back), and whether the lips are rounded. In consonants, a sharp constrictipon of airflow creates a pressure differential in the upper vocal tract. Consonants are named by the articulator at which the primary constriction occurs, as well as how tight the constriction is, and the status of the larynx. For example, /p/ is called a voiceless labial stop because the primary consonantal constriction occurs at the lips (labial), the lips are completely closed so they completely stop all airflow, and the larynx is not generating modal voicing.

Manner of articulation refers to how tight the oral constriction is. For example, in the word pen the initial sound /p/ consists of a complete blockage of airflow at the lips, whereas in the word when the initial sound /w/ consists of only a very partial blockage of airflow at the lips. Place of articulation refers to where the primary consonantal constriction occurs. For example, /p/ is produced at the lips while /t/ is produced just behind the teeth. Voicing refers to whether the larynx is generating modal voicing during a consonant. For example, /s/ as in hiss is voiceless, while /z/ as in his is voiced. (You can hear the difference between voiced and voiceless sounds by putting your finger on your throat right in front of the Adam's apple and saying both; for example say hissssssss and hizzzzzzz to feel the voicing contrast between /s/ and /z/ at the end of a word.)

Sonorants -- formants. Obstruents -- turbulence and VOT

Language-specific perception

Part I: Anatomy[edit | edit source]

Anatomy of the vocal tract

Anatomy and Physiology of the Vocal Tract[edit | edit source]

  • The Larynx (voice box)
  • The Tongue
  • The Lips
  • The Teeth
  • The Roof of the Mouth (palate)
  • Other Parts

Part II: Articulation[edit | edit source]

Phonation[edit | edit source]

  • Modal Phonation
  • Creaky Voice (aka Laryngealization, Vocal Fry)
  • Breathy Voice

The Production of Vowels[edit | edit source]

  • Vowel Height
  • Tongue Frontness/Backness
  • Lip Rounding
  • Other Vowel Features

Consonants[edit | edit source]

  • Place of Articulation
  • Manner of Articulation
  • Voicing and Other Laryngeal Features
  • Other Consonantal Features

The International Phonetic Alphabet[edit | edit source]

Part III: Acoustics[edit | edit source]

Part IV: Perception[edit | edit source]