11.1 Phonetic & Phonological Analysis: Can you examine how manner of articulation impacts language and sound?

Chapter 11

11.1 Examine how classification according to manner of articulation impacts language from stricture types to the various dimensions

Classification according to manner of articulation

Manner of articulation

The manner of articulation is determined by the vocal organs. It is specified according to the degree of stricture i.e. – the degree to which the vocal organs or articulators impede the airflow.

 Stricture types

Each stricture type generates a sound of specific type and quality. It is the stricture type/ manner of articulation that finally shapes the air stream into specific sounds by placing the articulating organs in different positions.

The vocal tract is considered a four dimensional tube that runs from the larynx through the mouth to the lips and through the nasal cavity to the nostrils. This is the tract that contains the vocal organs and the four dimensions indicate – space in relation to the organs and time.

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 The four dimensions

1. Vertical dimension.                                                                                                          Represented by the degree of closeness between the articulatory organs. In most articulations the active articulator approaches the passive one in a vertical direction.

2. Transverse dimension

The side-to-side dimension that specifies the location of the oral air path, which can be

a) Median: through the centre of the mouth as in – /θ/ /ð/

b) Lateral: through or along one or both sides of the mouth as in / /

3. Longitudinal dimension

This represents the location of the articulation at any of the points in the vocal tract from the lips back and down to the larynx. E.g. the difference between / p, t, k, q, / is longitudinal – all have the same manner of articulation but different locations of articulation.

4. Time dimension

This dimension specifies whether an articulation is one of:

  • a momentary gesture
  • a maintainable posture


 Maintainable stricture types

There are three degrees of stricture in the production of sounds.

  1. Complete closure

In this stricture, the articulators seal off the flow of air completely. The articulators are then drawn apart suddenly. When drawn to gather, the air behind the articulators builds up in pressure and the sudden parting of the articulators makes the air escape with ‘a popping noise’ or plosion. The sounds thus produced are known as plosives due to the noisy release. They are also known as stops because of the complete stoppage of the airflow by the articulating organs.

– Stops – the complete closure. E.g. / p b t d t đ c f k g q g/

  1. Close approximation

The articulators come close to one another but they do not seal off the air escape. The passage left for the air to escape is however so narrow that air flowing through cause turbulence. The sounds produced have an audible friction whether they are voiced or voiceless. fricatives e.g. /Φβ f v h ħ/

  1. Open approximation

The articulators are wider apart than in the close approximation stricture. Airflows out with hardly any turbulence e.g. in /υ j ω/ /o u i/ vowels

  1. The trill

This involves an alteration between the complete closure and the open approximation. The active articulator repeatedly hits against the passive articulator because of the passage of the powerful air stream used in the articulation of a trill e.g. in /B r R / Conclusion: all these stricture types: the stop, fricative, approximant and trill are maintainable articulations. The articulation posture can be held in place for some time.

However some have a longer maintainable stricture than others. Approximants>fricatives>trills>stops.

Momentary stricture types

In these articulations there is very brief/ momentary contact between the articulators.

  1. Tap or flap

The active articulator momentarily makes contact with the passive articulator and then withdraws – taps or flaps against it e.g. in /s ι/

  1. Approximant (Semi vowel)

The semi vowel unlike all other sounds has just two phases of the articulation process.

Approach and release If the hold phase is included, the semi- vowel turns into a vowel

e.g. /w/ – very short/u/

/j/ – very short /i/



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