20.1 Phonetic & Phonological Analysis: What is sonority? How does it impact the language?

Chapter 20

Explain the phenomenon that is sonority in the English language


 The phonetic and phonological features of sonority is an articulatory prosodic feature. It is a sound’s loudness relative to that of the other sounds with the same length stress and pitch.

 Calculating the degree of sonority

a) It is closely linked in articulatory terms with the degree of blockage of the air stream.

Vowels have the least blockage (open approximation) and therefore are the most sonorous speech sounds. Stops are the least sonorous.

Image result for Sonority hierarchy

b) Voicing is also a determining factor of the degree of sonority. Voiced sounds are

therefore more sonorous than their voiceless counterparts. It is therefore possible to postulate a sonority hierarchy among segments using the  >(greater than) more sonorous than symbol.

E.g. a.∂.i the more open vowel has the highest degree of sonority a is greater than ∂ and ∂

is greater than i, a>ə>i. dsl, l>s>d.

Example l, m, u, t, b, n, a, z, i, з, e. a>e>i,u>z,з>š>m,n,b>t

 Sonority hierarchy

Most sonorous vowels low, mid , high

  • Glides
  • Liquids
  • Nasals


  • Fricatives
  • Affricatives
  • Stops

– least sonorous

Image result for Sonority hierarchy


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