Consonants: Fricatives

Consonants: Fricatives

Fricatives are made by forming a nearly complete obstruction of the vocal tract. The opening though which the air escapes is very small, and as a result a turbulent noise is produced (much as air escaping from a punctured tire makes a hissing noise.) Such a turbulent, hissing mouth noise is called frication, hence the name of this class of speech sounds.
[S], as in ship, is made by almost stopping the air with the tongue near the palate. It is a voiceless palatal fricative. How would you describe each of the following: [f], [v], [th], [TH], [s], [z], [Z], and [h]?
  • Phonetic symbols are written in square brackets [ ] to distinguish them from letters written in ordinary spelling.
  • Our class uses the ASCII Phonetic Alphabet (.pdf) using fonts already on your keyboard.
  • Each sound is a single sound. So [f], a single consonant sound, is not [f^], which is two separate sounds, the voiceless consonant [f] 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


foot, laughphilosophy, coffee, carafe


vest, dove, gravel, anvil, average


through, wraththistle, ether, teeth (this th sound is voiceless.)


the, their, mother, either, teeth(this th sound is voiced. The symbol looks like a capital th)


soap, psychology, packs, peace


zip, roads, kissesXerox, design


shy, mission, nation, glacial,sure (the symbol for the sh sound looks like a capital s)


voicedpalatalmeasure, vision, azure, casualty, decision


voicelessglottalwho, hat, rehash, hole, whole

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