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Manner of Articulation

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English

Manner of articulation definition

In phonetics, manner of articulation is about how sounds are produced by the 'articulators'. Articulators are the organs in the vocal tract which enable human beings to make sounds. They include the palate, tongue, lips, teeth etc. and are shown in the image below. When we speak, we use these articulators to do so. There are two basic types of speech sound:

Consonants: Speech sounds created by a partial or total closure of the vocal tract.

Vowels: Speech sounds produced without stricture in the vocal tract.

Manner of Articulation Diagram

Here's a handy diagram to show us the vocal tract, including all of the articulators used when creating consonant sounds.

Manner of Articulation, Human Vocal Tract, StudySmarterThe human vocal tract contains all of the articulators which are used when creating consonant sounds. - StudySmarter Original

Manner of Articulation of Consonants

We can categorize manner of articulation into two groups: obstruents and sonorants.

Obstruents are speech sounds created by obstructing the airflow in the vocal tract. All consonants are obstructed sounds in some way. They include stops or plosives, fricatives, and affricates.

/ p, t, k, d, b /

Sonorants, or resonants, are speech sounds created by continuous and unobstructed airflow through the vocal tract. Sonorants can include vowels as well as consonants. In this group, we also find nasal liquids and approximants. We categorize manner of articulation into two further categories: voiced and voiceless.

/ J, w, m, n /

If there is no vibration in the vocal cords during sound production, the sound is voiceless (like the sound you make when you whisper).

When making the sounds / f / and / s /, you can feel that there is no vibration in your Adam's apple.

If there is a vibration in the vocal cords during sound production, the sound is voiced .

While making the sounds / b / and / d /, you can feel the vibration on your Adam's apple.

When we're talking about consonants and manner of articulation, we also need to look at the place of articulation (where sounds are produced in the vocal tract).

Manner of articulation and place of articulation

Place of Articulation Chart

Before we jump into the analysis, here are the various 'places of articulation':

Place of articulation

How it is created

Bilabial

Contact between the lips.

Labio-dental

Contact between the lower lip and the upper teeth.

Dental

Contact between the lower lip and the upper teeth.

Alveolar

Contact between the tongue and the alveolar ridge (this is the ridged area between the upper teeth and the hard palate).

Palatal

Contact between the tongue and the hard palate or alveolar ridge.

Post-alveolar

The tongue makes contact with the back of the alveolar ridge.

Velar

The back of the tongue makes contact with the soft palate (velum).

Glottal

A restriction of the airflow at the glottis.

Now, let's look more at the specific types of manners of articulation.

Manner of Articulation Chart

Manner of articulation

How it is created

Plosive

A short, quick release of air after closed stricture.

Fricative

Close stricture that creates friction when air is released.

Affricate

Start with producing a plosive and blending immediately into a fricative.

Nasal

Air is released through the nasal passages.

Approximant

Close proximity of the articulators without causing any closure or friction.

Let's have a look in more detail:

Manners of articulation

1. Plosives or stops

In phonetics, a plosive consonant, also known as a stop, is made when the vocal tract is closed and the airflow is blocked as it leaves the body. The blockage can be made with the tongue, lips, teeth or glottis.

When analysing a plosive, we consider the way the articulators are used (lips, tongue, palate); we check the closure of the airstream and the release of the airstream when the vocal organs separate.

Manner of articulation examples:

In English, there are six plosives:

PLOSIVE
BILABIALp, b
ALVEOLARt, d
POST ALVEOLARt, d
VELARg, k
DENTALt, d

Thanks to the different ways in which speakers of English pronounce sounds, the sounds /t/ and /d/ can be alveolar, post-alveolar or dental. This is because phonemes are merely ideal representations of real-world speech sounds, which can differ slightly from person to person.

2. Fricatives

Like plosives, fricatives are restricted as they leave the body. We can use teeth, lips, or tongue to limit the flow of air. Unlike plosives, fricatives are longer sounds (you can sustain a fricative, like the phoneme / f /, but you can't sustain a plosive, like the phoneme / p /). Some fricatives have a hiss-like quality. These are called sibilants. In the English language, there are two sibilants: / s / and / z /. For example, sick, zip and sun.

In English, there are nine fricatives:

FRICATIVE
DENTALð, θ
LABIODENTALf, v
ALVEOLARs, z
POSTALVEOLARʃ, ʒ
glottalH

The fricative sounds / z, ð, v, ʒ / are voiced, and the sounds / h, s, θ, f, ʃ / are voiceless.

Manner of articulation examples:

Voiced fricatives:

/ v /: vat, van

/ ð /: then, them

/ z /: zip, zoom

/ ʒ /: casual, treasure

Voiceless fricatives:

/ f /: fat, far

/ s /: site, cycle

/ h /: help, high

/ ʃ /: ship, she

/ θ /: think, north

3. Affricates

Affricates are also known as semi-plosives and are created by combining a plosive and a fricative consonant. There are two affricatives: / t ʃ / and / dʒ /.

Both sounds are post-alveolar, which means we create them with the tongue behind the alveolar ridge (part of the palate just behind your upper teeth, before the hard palate). The sound / tʃ / is a voiceless affricate, while the sound / dʒ / is a voiced affricate.

/ tʃ /: chair, choose

/ dʒ /: jump, jet

4. Nasals

Nasal consonants, also known nasal stops, are made by blocking the airflow from the mouth, so it comes out of the nose instead. In nasal vowels, by contrast, the sound is generated by lowering the soft palate to allow the airflow out of both mouth and nose.

The consonants / m, n, ŋ / are not caused by the nose, but by the tongue or lips that prevent the airflow. Because of the vibration of the vocal cords, we consider nasal consonants voiced.

There are three nasal consonants: / m, n, ŋ /.

/ m /: mirror, melody

/ n /: name, nose

/ ŋ /: working, long

NASAL
BILABIALm
ALVEOLARn
VELARŋ

5. Approximants

Without any contact, approximants are also known as frictionless continuants, created by air moving between the vocal organs. Approximants, also known as lateral sounds, are created by allowing the airflow to leave by the sides of the mouth.

There are four approximant groups, as follows:

Bilabial approximant: the sound is made by the lips almost closing but without any contact.

With / w / in words like where wind and we.

Palatal approximant: the sound is made by the middle of the tongue almost touching the palate.

With / j / in words like yell, yes and you.

Bilabial and palatal approximants are semi-vowels, as the sound /w/ is similar to /u/ and /j/ is similar to /i/. Semi-vowels have a similar sound to vowels, but they are not vowels because they are non-syllabic. Non-syllabic means they have no nucleus for a syllable.

Alveolar lateral approximant: the sound is created by the tip tongue forming a closure with the alveolar ridge allowing the airflow to leave by the sides.

With / l / in words like mall, hall and like.

Alveolar frictionless approximant: the sound is created by the tongue tip almost making contact with the alveolar ridge.

With / r / in words like rose, run and red.

Manner of Articulation - Key Takeaways

  • Manner of articulation is about how the 'articulators produce sounds.
  • There are two main sound groups: consonants and vowels.
  • There are two other important categories: obstructions and sonorants - the first are produced by obstructing the airflow, the second without obstruction.
  • There are five types of consonants: plosives or stops, fricatives, affricates, nasals and approximants.
  • Approximants are vowel-like.

Manner of Articulation

The five manners of articulation used for consonant sounds in the English language are: plosive, fricative, affricate, nasal and lateral approximant.

Manner of articulation refers to how a consonant sound is produced i.e. how the airflow is allowed to release through the vocal tract by the articulators. Place of articulation refers to where the articulators make contact.

Manner of articulation refers to how airflow is released through the vocal tract by the articulators in order to create consonant sounds.

Manner of articulation refers to how air is released through the vocal tract to create sound. Airflow release is controlled by the articulators. For example, plosive is a manner of articulation meaning: a short, quick release of air after closed stricture. Another example is fricative which means: close stricture that creates friction when the air is released.

Final Manner of Articulation Quiz

Question

True or false - Plosives are produced with no articulator contact and unrestricted airflow.

Show answer

Answer

False. Plosives are made when the vocal tract and airflow are blocked.


Show question

Question

True or False - Plosives can be bilabial but not alveolar.


Show answer

Answer

False. They can be both.

Show question

Question

What are fricatives?

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Answer

Fricatives are sounds created by constriction of the vocal organs leaving a small gap for the airflow.


Show question

Question

Give an example of a sibilant.


Show answer

Answer

Sick or sun.

Show question

Question

How many affricate consonants are there in English? 

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Answer

Two.


Show question

Question

True or false - fricatives and affricates are the same.


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Answer

False. Affricates are a combination of a plosive and fricative consonant.


Show question

Question

What is the difference between voiced and voiceless sounds?

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Answer

A voiced sound is characterized by the vibration of the vocal cords, whereas a voiceless sound isn't.

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Question

True or false - The nasal consonants are created by restricting the airflow in the nose.

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Answer

False. Nasal consonants are made by blocking the airflow in the mouth.


Show question

Question

True or false - Nasal consonants are considered both obstruents and sonorants.


Show answer

Answer

True. 


Show question

Question

What are approximant consonants?

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Answer

Approximant consonants are created by the airflow passing through the vocal articulators without any contact.

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Question

How many sub-categories have approximant consonants? Which ones?


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Answer

There are four: bilabial, palatal, alveolar lateral, and alveolar frictionless approximant.

Show question

Question

True or false - both bilabial and palatal consonants are considered semi-vowels.

Show answer

Answer

True.


Show question

Question

Choose the correct answer. Which of these are obstruents?


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Answer

Plosive, fricatives and affricates

Show question

Question

Choose the correct answer. Which consonant sounds are voiceless fricatives?

Show answer

Answer

h, s, θ, f, ʃ

Show question

Question

Choose the correct answer. In English, there are three nasal consonants. Which ones?


Show answer

Answer

m, n, ŋ

Show question

Question

What is 'manner of articulation'?

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Answer

Manner of articulation refers to how consonant sounds are produced.

Show question

Question

Match this definition to the type of speech sound:

Speech sounds created by a partial or total closure of the vocal tract.

Show answer

Answer

Consonants

Show question

Question

Where are the articulators located?

Show answer

Answer

The vocal tract

Show question

Question

What are articulators?

Show answer

Answer

The vocal organs used to create different consonant and vowel sounds.

Show question

Question

Which of these manners of articulation does not make an obstruent sound?

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Answer

Nasal

Show question

Question

What is an obstruent sound?

Show answer

Answer

A speech sound created by obstructing the airflow in the vocal tract.

Show question

Question

Which type of speech sound includes consonants and vowels?

Show answer

Answer

Sonorants

Show question

Question

Which of these is a manner of articulation?

Show answer

Answer

Nasal

Show question

Question

Which manner of articulation is a short, quick release of air after closed stricture?

Show answer

Answer

Plosive

Show question

Question

What are the two alveolar fricative sounds?

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Answer

s, z

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Question

True of false: Nasal sounds can be voiced or voiceless.

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Answer

False

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Question

What is the difference between consonant and vowel sounds?

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Answer

Consonants are sounds made with partial or total airflow obstruction, whereas vowels are not obstructed.

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Question

What are the five types of consonants?


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Answer

Plosives or stops, fricatives, affricates, nasals and approximants.

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Question

What is a characteristic of sibilants?


Show answer

Answer

Sibilants are characterized by a hiss-like quality.

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Question

What do we mean by fricative sounds?


Show answer

Answer

By fricatives, we mean long, partially obstructed, consonant sounds.

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