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OF ENGLISH CONSONANTS




 

The consonant is a speech sound in the production of which (a) the air stream coming out of the lungs meets an articulatory obstruction on its way (complete or incomplete); (b) the muscular tension is concentrated in the place of obstruction; (c) the force of exhalation is rather strong.

There are 24 consonants in the English language. They can be classified according to the following articulatory principles:

1) the work of the vocal cords;

2) the force of exhalation;

3) the degree of noise;

4) the position of the soft palate;

5) the type of obstruction and the manner of noise production;

6) the active organs of speech and the place of articulation.

According to the work of the vocal cords /ˈvəʊkəl ˈkɔ:dz/ English consonants are divided into voiced /ˈvɔɪst/and voiceless /ˈvɔɪslɪs/.

When the vocal cords are brought together and vibrate we hear voice and the consonants are voiced: /b, d, ɡ, z, v, ð, ʒ, ʤ/.

When the vocal cords are taken apart and do not vibrate we hear only noise and the consonants are voiceless: /p, t, k, s, f, θ, ʃ, ʧ, h/.

The force of exhalation /ˌekshəˈleɪʃən/ and the degree of muscular tension /dɪˈɡri: əv ˈmʌskjulə ˈtenʃn/ in the production of voiceless consonants is greater; that is why they are called by a Latin word fortis /ˈfɔ:tɪs/ which means “strong, energetic”. Voiced consonants are called by a Latin word lenis /ˈli:nɪs/ which means “weak, soft” because the force of exhalation and the degree of muscular tension in their articulation is weaker. For example: /t/ tight - /d/ died. English consonants /h, m, n, ŋ, l, w, j, r/ do not have fortis/lenis oppositions.

According to the degree of noise /dɪˈɡri: əv ˈnɔɪz/ English consonants are divided into noise consonants /ˈnɔɪz ˈkɒnsənənts/ and sonorous consonants /ˈsɒnərəs ˈkɒnsənənts/ (or sonorants /ˈsɒnərənts/).

Noise consonantsaremade with noise prevailing over tone because of a rather narrow air passage. Noise consonants vary in the work of the vocal cords and in the force of exhalation.

Voiced lenis noise consonants are: /b, d, ɡ, v, ð, z, ʒ, ʤ/.

Voiceless fortis noise consonants are: /p, t, k, f, θ, s, ʃ, ʧ/.

Sonorants are made with tone prevailing over noise because of a rather wide air passage. They are: /m, n, ŋ, w, 1, r, j/.



According to the position of the soft palate /ˈsɒft ˈpælət/ English consonants are divided into oral /ˈɔ:rəl/ and nasal /ˈneɪzəl/.

When the soft palate is raised and the air from the lungs gets into the pharynx and then into the mouth cavity, oral consonants are produced: /p, b, t, d, k, ɡ, s, z, f, v, θ, ð, ʃ, ʒ, ʧ, ʤ, h, l, r, j, w/.

When the soft palate is lowered and the air from the lungs gets into the pharynx and then into the nasal cavity, nasal consonants are produced: /m, n, ŋ/.

According to the type of obstruction /ðə ˈtaɪp əv əbˈstrʌʃn/ consonants are divided into:

1) occlusive /əˈklu:sɪv/,

2) constrictive /kənˈstrɪktɪv/,

3) occlusive-constrictive /əˈklu:sɪv kənˈstrɪktɪv /.

Occlusiveconsonants are the sounds in the production of which a complete obstruction is formed, that is the organs of speech are in contact and the air stream meets a closure in the mouth or nasal cavities: /p, b, t, d, k, ɡ, m, n, ŋ/.

Occlusive consonants are subdivided into occlusive noise consonants:/p, b, t, d, k, ɡ/ and occlusive sonorants: /m, n, ŋ/. Occlusive noise consonants are oral. Occlusive sonorantsare nasal.

In the production of occlusive noise consonants the breath is completely stopped at some point articulation (that is why they are also called stops /ˈstɒps/) and then it is released with a slight explosion (that is why they are also called plosives /ˈpləʊsɪvz/).



Constrictiveconsonants are the sounds in the production of which an incomplete obstruction is formed, that is there is the narrowing between the active organs of speech and the air escapes through the mouth /f, v, s, z, θ, ð, ʃ, ʒ, h, w, 1, r, j/.

Constrictive consonants are subdivided into constrictive noise consonants:/f, v, s, z, θ, ð, ∫, ʒ, h/ and constrictive sonorants: /w, 1, r, j/. Both constrictive noise consonants and constrictive sonorants are oral.

In the production of constrictive noise consonants the air passage is constricted and the air escapes through the narrowing with friction (that is why they are also called fricatives /frɪkətɪvz/).

Occlusive-constrictiveconsonants (or affricates /ˈæfrɪkɪts/) are the sounds in the production of which a complete obstruction slowly becomes incomplete and the air escapes through the narrowing between the active organs of speech with some friction as in the production of /ʧ, ʤ/.

According to the active organs of speech consonants are divided into: labial /ˈleɪbɪəl/, lingual/ˈlɪŋɡwəl/, and glottal /ˈɡlɒtəl/.

Labialconsonants are made by the lips. According tothe place of articulation they may be bilabial /baɪˈleɪbɪəl/ and labio-dental /ˈleɪbɪəˈdentəl/.

Bilabial consonants are produced when both lips are active. They are: /p, b, m, w/.

Labio-dental consonants are articulated with the lower lip against the edge of the upper teeth. They are: /f, v/.

Lingualconsonants are made by the tongue. According tothe place of articulation they are classified into forelingual /ˈfɔ:lɪŋɡwəl/, mediolingual /ˈmi:djəlɪŋɡwəl/ and backlingual /ˈbæklɪŋɡwəl/.

Forelingual consonants are articulated with the tip or the blade of the tongue. They may be interdental /ˌɪntəˈdentəl/, alveolar /ˈælvɪələ/, post-alveolar /ˈpəʊst ˈælvɪələ/ and palato-alveolar /ˈpælətəʊˈælvɪələ/.

Interdental consonants are made with the tip of the tongue projected between the teeth: /θ, ð/.

Alveolar consonants are articulated with the tip of the tongue against the alveolar ridge: /t, d, s, z, n, 1/.

Post-alveolar consonants are made with the tip or the blade of the tongue behind the alveolar ridge: /r/.

Palato-alveolar consonants are made with the tip or the blade of the tongue against the alveolar ridge and the front part of the tongue raised to the hard palate, thus having two places of articulation: /ʃ, ʒ, ʧ, ʤ/.

Mediolingual consonants are produced with the front part of the tongue raised high to the hard palate. They are always palatal /ˈpælətəl/. The only palatal English consonant is /j/.

Backlingual consonants are also called velar /ˈvi:lə/, because they are produced with the back part of the tongue raised towards the soft palate (Lat. velum).They are: /k, ɡ, ŋ/.

The glottalconsonant /h/ is articulated in the glottis.


Questions for self-control:

1. What is the consonant?

2. How are the consonants classified according to the work of the vocal cords? – the force of exhalation? – the degree of noise? – the position of the soft palate? – the type of obstruction and the manner of noise production? – the active organs of speech and the place of articulation?

3. How many voiced/voiceless (lenis/fortis; noise/sonorous; oral/nasal; occlusive (stops/plosives) / constrictive (fricatives) /occlusive-constrictive (affricates); labial/lingual/glottal; bilabial/labio-dental; apical/cacuminal; forelingual / midlingual / backlingual; interdental / alveolar / post-alveolar / palato-alveolar) consonants are there in English? What are they?

4. The consonants are called voiced/voiceless (lenis/fortis; noise/sonorous; oral/nasal; occlusive / constrictive / occlusive-constrictive (stops/plosives, fricatives, affricates); labial/lingual/glottal; bilabial/labio-dental; apical/cacuminal; forelingual/midlingual/backlingual; interdental/alveolar/ post-alveolar/palato-alveolar) because …

5. Fill in the table “The system of English Consonants”.



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