3.5.4 Consonants: Stops

 3.5.4 Consonants: Stops

Stops, also called plosives, are like little explosions of sound. They are made by obstructing the airstream completely in the oral cavity. Notice that when you say [p] as in pat and [b] as in ball, your lips are closed together for a moment, stopping the airflow. [p] and [b] are bilabial stops. [p] is a voiceless bilabial stop, and [b] is a voiced bilabial stop. [t], [d], [k], and [g] are also stops. What is the three-part description for each of these stops?
The glottal stop, [?], is made by momentarily closing the vocal folds. If you stop halfway through uh-oh and hold the articulators in position for the second half, you should be able to feel yourself making the glottal stop (it will feel like a catch in your throat.) Nasal consonants are also stops in terms of their oral articulation (see nasals page.)
  • Phonetic symbols are written in square brackets [ ] to distinguish them from letters written in ordinary spelling. These symbols are not the same as letters of English. Rather, the phonetic symbols represent the sounds of language.
  • Our class uses the ASCII Phonetic Alphabet (.pdf) using fonts already on your keyboard.
  • Each sound is a single sound. So [p], a single consonant sound, is not [p^], which is two separate sounds, the voiceless consonant [p] plus the voiced vowel  [^]. 
Click the speaker to hear the symbol and to hear the sound within sample words. Be sure to make the sounds as you hear them, paying attention to where and how the sounds are made in your vocal tract.






Sample Words


pit, tip, spit, hiccough, appear


ball, globe, amble, brick, bubble


tag, pat, stick, pterodactyl, stuffed


dip, carddrop, loved, batted


kit, scoot, character, critique, exceed


guard, bag, designate, Pittsburgh


uh-oh, O'ahu, ka'aina (glottal stop. The Hawaiian examples show the glottal stop written as the 'okina, an apostrophe written backwards or

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