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Describing Consonant Sounds

Describing Consonant Sounds


Describing Consonant Sounds
Consonant sounds are described by 3 things:
  1. is the sound voiced or voiceless? VOICING
  2. where is the sound constricted? PLACE OF ARTICULATION
  3. how is the airstream constricted? MANNER OF ARTICULATION
Being able to describe a consonant sound has many benefits.
  • If you're teaching English as a second language, knowing how consonants are pronounced will help you to show your students where and how to make the sounds themselves.
  • If you're a student learning English as a second language, you'll be able to sound more like a native English speaker if you know how and where English consonants are made.
  • If you're a therapist, you'll be able to help your patients to produce the sounds.
This week's lessons cover what voicing, place of articulation, and manner of articulation all mean. But for now, let's try our hand at describing consonant sounds.
Step 1: The first thing to state in describing a consonant is to indicate whether the sound is VOICED or VOICELESS
  • voice sounds = vocal folds vibrate
  • voiceless sounds = vocal folds do not vibrate (try this: put your hand on your throat when you pronounce the sound. If you feel a vibration, the sound is voiced.)
Step 2: The second thing is to tell where in the vocal tract the sound is articulated (the place of articulation)
Step 3: The third thing is to say how the air stream is modified by the vocal tract to produce the sound (manner of articulation)

Describing Consonant Sounds with the Consonant Chart

The following consonant chart can be used for easy reference. The three-part description is given in this order: Voicing - Place - Manner. To find the description of a sound:
  1. Locate the phonetic symbol on the chart. You can click the symbol to hear the sound pronounced, if you wish.
  2. Look for voicing by checking whether the sound is in the shaded part of the box or not.
  3. Then check the label at the top of the vertical column that contains the sound to see what its place of articulation is.
  4. Finally, check the manner of articulation label at the far left of the sound's horizontal row. For example, locate [n]. It is in the shaded region, indicating this sound is voiced. Now look above the [n]. It is in the vertical column marked alveolar. Looking to the far left, you see [n] is a nasal. The sound [n], then, is a voiced alveolar nasal.
The Consonant Chart
(Click the ASCII alphabets to hear the sound)
Click here for a print-friendly copy of the consonant chart (.pdf)

Manner of Articulation

Place of articulation

bilabiallabiodentalinterdentalalveolarpalatalvelarglottal
stop

p

b

 

 

 

 

t

d

 

 

k

g

?

 

fricative

 

 

f

v

th

TH

s

z

S

Z

 

 

h

 

affricate

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

tS

dZ

 

 

 

 

nasal

 

m

 

 

 

 

 

n

 

 

 

N

 

 

lateral liquid

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

l

 

 

 

 

 

 

retroflex liquid

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

r

 

 

 

 

 

 

glide

hw

w

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

j

 

 

 

 


Voicing:

Voiceless

Voiced


Activity

Mod 3 Activity Describing Consonant Sounds

Directions:
  1. Using the consonant chart (.pdf), practice describing consonant sounds with these interactive exercises:
    1. Practice 1flash - scroll to select your answer
    2. Practice 2flash
    3. Practice 3flash
  2. Then visit the Week's Activities page for an required activity
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