Page 1

CHAPTER 3: THE SOUNDS OF LANGUAGE By Douglas Guillermo Monterrosa Rodríguez 31-2119-2014 Linguistics 01

First think about this: We can not use the letters of the alphabet in a constant way to produce sounds in written English. Because of the last one, we have the Phonetic Alphabet, this system let us to know symbols of sounds to speak English.

Phonetics Phonetics is the general study of the characteristics of speech sounds.

Voiced and voiceless sounds The system of speech come first by the air that we have into our lungs through the trachea to the larynx, the last one contains the vocal cords.

The vocal cords. Vocal cords can take two positions. When they are opened produce sounds without vibration (Voiceless sound). We they are closed the air produces vibrations through its way (voiced sounds).

Place of Articulation The human has a beautiful resilience of the parts of our body that give us the opportunity to create a high repertory of sounds. The place of articulation is the place where the sounds are produced.

BILABIALS These sounds are made by using both lips. Examples of these sounds are [p], [b] and [m].


These sounds are produced using the upper teeth and the lower lip. Examples of these sounds are [f] and [v].


These sounds are known as interdental sounds too. The sounds are produced by putting the tip of the tongue between lower and upper teeth. Examples of these are [ϴ] as in “think” and “three”, and [ð] as in “the” “thief”.


These sounds are formed with the alveolar ridge, which is the rough above the upper teeth. The symbols of these sounds are: [t], [d], [s], [z], [n], [l] and [r].


Palatals are the sounds formed with the hard palate and the tongue. These are known as alveo-palatals too.

The symbols of these sounds are represented by: [ t͡ʃ ], [ ʃ ], [ʒ], [d͡ ʒ ], and [j].

VELARS Velars are sounds produced with the back of the tongue against the velum. Velar sounds are: [k], [g] and [ŋ]


There is a space between the vocal folds called “glottis” and when the air pass through it we can make this sound. The glottal sound that we can meet is [h]

Manner of articulation The manner of articulation is related to the way that sounds are articulated.

STOPS These sounds are produced by blocking the air stream. Examples of sounds: [p], [b], [t]‌ Examples of words: bee, truck, etc. FRICATIVES

Fricatives sounds are produced by a continuous air stream that causes friction. Examples of sounds are: [f], [s]‌ Examples of words are: festival, soup, etc.

AFFRICATES It is a mixture between a brief stopping of the air stream with and obstructed release wich causes some friction. Examples of sounds: [ tʃ͡ ] and [d͡ ʒ ] Examples of words: dodge and chick NASALS Nasal sounds are produce with the air stream trough the nose. Examples of sounds: [m], [n] and [ŋ] Examples of words: mom, nut, ringing LIQUIDS These sounds have the characteristic that the air stream passes trough both sides of the tongue as the tip of the tongue makes contact with the middle of the alveolar ridge.

Examples of sounds: [r] and [l] Examples of words: race and law


Known semi-vowels. These sounds are produced with the tongue in motion. This is a combination of two sounds Sounds: [w] and [j] Examples of words: water and yes

GLOTTAL STOPS AND FLAPS: Glottal stop [?]: occurs when the space between the vocal folds is closed complete then released. This is like a pause or omission of letters. Flaps: [Éž]: It is produced by the tip of the tongue tapping the alveolar ridge. Uses between vowels as in the words: letter and Potter. This is like a substitution of d and t for the sound [r]

Examples of words: Potter and writer

Vowels Vowels have the characteristic that air flows free.

The place of the articulation is the mouth, having this the fourth characteristics of the classification of the vowels: front and back, high and low area.


These are sounds that consist in a combination of two vowels. In this chart you can see how you can combine vowel sounds to create diphthong.

Subtle individual variation We must consider that there are some variations of the using of the vowels and diphthongs, and this could be more difficult by the accent of the person. We must remember that English is spoken in many parts of the word by different people. There is the case too that could be very difficult for us to understand differences between vowel sounds as [ə] and [ʌ]. In other to understand a little bit more of this, we need to study other aspects of the English’s phonology.

Chapter 3  
Chapter 3