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Consonants

  • Date Submitted: 01/17/2013 09:23 AM
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VOICED/VOICELESS CONSONANTS

Voice or voicing is a term used in phonetics and phonology to characterize speech sounds, with sounds described as either voiceless (unvoiced) or voiced. The term, however, is used to refer to two separate concepts. Voicing can refer to the articulatory process in which the vocal cords vibrate. This is its primary use in phonetics to describe phones, which are particular speech sounds. It can also refer to a classification of speech sounds that tend to be associated with vocal cord vibration but need not actually be voiced at the articulatory level. This is the term's primary use in phonology when describing phonemes, or in phonetics when describing phones.
At the articulatory level, a voiced sound is one in which the vocal cords vibrate, and a voiceless sound is one in which they do not. Voicing is the difference between the pairs of sounds that are associated with the English letters "s" and "z". The two sounds are symbolically written [s] and [z] to distinguish them from the English letters, which have several possible pronunciations depending on context. If one places the fingers on the voice box (ie the location of the Adam's apple in the upper throat), one can feel a vibration when one pronounces zzzz, but not when one pronounces ssss. (For a more detailed, technical explanation, see modal voice and phonation.) In European languages such as English, vowels and other sonorants (consonants such as m, n, l, and r) are modally voiced.


|Voicing contrast in English fricatives                                                                         |
|Articulation                                                     |Voiceless             |Voiced               |
|Pronounced with the lip against the teeth:                       |[f] (fan)             |[v](van)             |
|Pronounced with the tongue against the teeth:                     |[θ] (thin, thigh)     |[ð] (then, thy)     |
|Pronounced with the tongue near the gums:...

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