Vowels, you have learned are characterized by a free flow of air. Consonants: on the other hand, except for the 3 nasals, are produced by stopping or obstructing this flow of air. English consonant can be classified according to several aspects such as voice, point articulation (POA), or manner of articulation (MOA), which will each be explained separately.
Manner of Articulation
English consonant are classified into 6 categories concerning the MOA, which depends on how the breath stream flows. 1) Stops: English has six stops: / p, b, t, d, k, g / 2) Affricates:There are 2 affricates in English: / č, ĵ /, as in chair, jug 3) Fricatives: There are fricatives: / f, v, q, �, s, z, �, �, h / 4) Lateral: There is one lateral only, e.g. / l / as in Let 5) Nasal: There are 3 nasals in English: / m, n, ŋ / 6) Glides: or Semi-vowels. There are 3 glides: / w, r, y /.
Let us examine each English consonant and see its articulator. 1) The lower lip is the articulator of these consonant / p, b, m, w, f, v /. 2) The apex, i.e., the tip of the tongue, is the articulator of consonants:
/ q, �, t, d, s, z, l, n, r /. 3) The front of the tongue is the articulator of consonants: / č, ĵ, �, �, y /. 4) The dorsum, i.e., the back of the tongue is the articulator of consonants:
/ k, g, ŋ /.
Points of Articulation
English consonants have these points of articulations: The Apper lip is the POA of / p, b, m, w /. Such sounds are called labials. The upper teeth is the POA of / f, v /, which are called dentals. The internal point is the POA of / q, � /, which are called internal. The alveolus is the POA of / t, d, s, z, l, n, r /, which are called alveolars. The alveolus is also called the alveolar ridge or the gum ridge. The alveo palatals is the POA of / č, ĵ, �, � /, which are called alveo palatals. The hard palate is the POA of / y /, which is called a palatal. The velum. i.e., the soft palate, is the POA of / k, g, ŋ/, which are called velars. The glottis is the POA of / h /, which is called a glottal. Notice that neither the uvula nor the pharynx is a POA in English. Therefore, English doesn't have uvula or pharyngeal sounds.
English consonants, as those of any other language, are either voiced or voiceless. You can find out by yourself whether the consonants is voiced or not, using the vibration test or the humming test explained in previous chapter. English has these voiceless consonants:- 1- Voiceless stops: / p, t, k / 2- Voiceless affricate: / č / 3- Voiceless fricatives: / f, q, s, �, h / The other consonants are voiced: 1- Voiced stops: / b, d, g /. 2- Voiced affricate: / ĵ /. 3- Voiced fricatives: / v, �, z, � /. 4- Voiced lateral: / l /. 5- Voiced nasals: / m, n, ŋ/. 6- Voiced glides: / w, r, y /.
Here one notices the following with regard to English consonants: 1- Three stops are voiced, and 3 are voiceless. 2- One affricate is voiced, and 1 is voiceless. 3- Four fricatives are voiced, and 5 are voiceless. 4- All nasals, glides, and the Lateral are voiced.
Assimilation and other Phonetic Processes
Assimilation Rules: Sounds affect one another especially when they are neighbor. They often tend to gain more similarity for the purpose of articulation easiness. The sound may influence the following one or a preceding one. As a result, As a result, a voiced sound may become a voiceless or a voiceless one may become voiced. A sound may change its point or manner of articulation to be more similar to its neighboring sound. Most phonetic phenomena and allomorph variation are caused by assimilation reasons. Here are some Examples of assimilation :- 1 ) Voicing / s /: A voiceless / s / may become voiced to be similar to a voiced neighbor, e.g., doors. / s / is basically voiceless, but it has become the voiced / z / to be similar to the voiced / r / before it. Other examples are : rooms, walls, chairs. 2) Devoicing nasals: A voiced nasal after a voiceless consonant may become voiceless for assimilation, e.g., snow, smell. This rule applies to nasals which are optionally devoiced after voiceless consonants. 4) Metathesis: Is the transposition of speech sounds. It is very common. e.g. tradegy, tragedy, revelan, relevant. These are examples of metathesis. The most commonly heard metathesis occur in the phonetic situation of / r / plus a vowel. e.g. "pretty" in the example "She is a pretty girl", we are likely to say / priti /. But when "pretty" given minimal stress, as in "That's pretty good", the word tends to become / p�rti /. 5) Epenthesis : Is the insertion of an extra consonant within a word. After an / m / an excrescent / p / may occurs before these voiceless consonants : / t /, / k /, / f /, / θ /, / s /, and / � /. The / p / occur because of the slight lack of coordination in the speech making mechanism. e.g. glimpse, Samson, Thomson, comfort, Warmth. 6) Epithesis: The addition of an extra consonant to the end of a word. It occurs after final / n / or / s /. After final / s / an epithetic / t / occasionally appears e.g. whisht (=wish) and also we hear / t / at the end of across, once. The / d / may also appeared at the end of the word drown / draund /. A word like amongst, the / t / here also inserted to it and becomes part of the word.
Diphthong : A diphthong consists of a vowel and a glide that occur in the same syllable, the tongue moving smoothly from one position to the other without hiatus, here are examples of some diphthongs in English:- / iy /:It is / i / followed by the glide / y /, as in seed, feed, lead, read, heat. / ey /: It is / e / followed by the glide / y /, as in fate, rate, wait, late, made, cane. / ay /: It is / a / followed by the glide / y /, as in fine, kind, line, sign, mine. / aw /:It is a combination of / a / followed by the glide / w /, as in now, round, sound, found, pound. / oy /:It is / o / followed by the glide / y /, as in boy, toy, noise, foil
Dipthongs and Vowel Tablet
Consonant table (manner & place of articulation, voiced and voiceless)
Brief consonant description
Here is a description of each English consonants briefly, showing its voice, articulator, POA, and MOA, with a word as an example of each:- 1- / p / : Voiceless bilabial stop (pen). 2- / b / : Voiced bilabial stop (pen). 3- / t / : Voiceless apico-alveolar stop (ten). 4- / d / : Voiced apico-alveolar stop (door). 5- / k / : Voiceless dorso-velar stop (kit). 6- / g / : Voiced dorso-velar stop (good). 7- / č / : Voiceless fronto-alveopalatal affricate (chair). 8- / ĵ / : Voiced fronto-alveopalatal affricate (jug) 9- / f / : Voiceless labio-dental fricative (fine). 10- / v / : Voiced labio-dental fricative (vine). 11- / q / : Voiceless apico-interdental fricative (thin). 12- / � / : Voiced apico-interdental fricative (the). 13- / s / : Voiceless apico-alveolar fricative (sell). 14- / z / : Voiced apico-alveolar fricative (zoo). 15- / � / : Voiceless fronto-alveopalatal fricative (shine). 16- / � / : Voiced fronto-alveopalatal fricative (mirage). 17- / h / : Voiceless glottal fricative (hot). 18- / l / : Voiced apico-alveolar lateral (light). 19- / m / : Voiced bilabial nasal (more). 20- / n / : Voiced apico-alveolar nasal (now). 21- / ŋ / : Voiced dorso-velar nasal (sing). 22- / w / : Voiced bilabial glide (win). 23- / r / : Voiced apico-alveolar glide (room). 24- / y / : Voiced fronto-palatal glide (yet).