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Glossary

Affricate

An affricative consonant (or affricate) starts as a stop, then quickly changes to a fricative. The "j" and "ch" in English are affricates.


Alveolar

An alveolar consonant is articulated with the tongue touching the alveolar ridge, as shown in the diagram below. The English "n" is alveolar.


Approximate

An approximate is a sound that is almost a consonant, or between a consonant and a vowel. The "r," "l," "w," and "y" in English are approximates.


Aspirated

A consonant is aspirated if it releases a burst of air from the mouth, such as the "p" in English. In order to find out if a consonant sound is aspirated or not, place your hand or a piece of paper in front of your mouth and speak a word that includes the sound. If you feel a burst of air or the paper moves, the consonant sound you are making is aspirated. Compare the "p" in "pin" and "spin."


Aspiration

Aspiration is a burst of air released from the mouth. The English "p" is aspirated. The English "g" is unaspirated.


Bilabial

A bilabial consonant is articulated with the top lips touching the bottom lips, as shown in the diagram below. The English "p" is bilabial.


Dental

A dental consonant is articulated with the tongue touching the front top teeth, or top and bottom teeth, as shown in the diagram below.


Flap

A flap is a consonant that is made when the tongue flaps or taps against the roof of your mouth.


Fricative

A fricative consonant is made by forcing air through a narrow opening. The "f" in English is a fricative consonant.


Glottal

A glottal consonant is when the point of articulation is the space between your vocal chords, the glottis. The "h" in English is a glottal consonant.


Nasal

A nasal consonant is made when the air flow is redirected throught the nasal cavity, rather than the oral cavity.


Palatal

A palatal consonant is when some part of your tongue is touching or near to the palate of the mouth, as shown below in the image. In English, "y" is palatal.


Phoneme

The smallest distinct unit of sound made by the mouth.


Place of articulation

The place of articulation of a consonant is the place where the tongue or lips make contact to obstruct airflow.


Post-alveolar

A post-alveolar consonant is articulated with the tip of the tongue or middle of the tongue touching right behind the alveolar ridge, as shown in the diagram below. The English "j" is alveolar.


Retroflex

A retroflex consonant is articulated with the tongue curled back and touching behind the alveolar ridge, as shown in the diagram below.


Stop

A consonant is a stop if anything, sugh as the tongue or lips, blocks the vocal tract to stop all airflow. The airflow may be blocked with the tongue, lips, or with other things. The English "k" is a stop, whereas "f" is not, since airflow is not stopped, but continues.


Unaspirated

A consonant is unaspirated if it releases little or no air, such as the "g" in English.


Unvoiced

A consonant is unvoiced if the vocal chords are apart allowing air to pass through unhindered, such as "k" in Englsih.


Uvular

A uvular consonant is articulated with the back tongue touching the Uvulum, as shown in the diagram below.


Velar

A velar consonant is articulated with the back part of the tongue against the soft palate, the back part of the roof of the mouth, as shown in the diagram below.



Voiced

A consonant is voiced if the vocal chords are together so that the air passing through cases the vocal chords to vibrate, such as "g" in English.


Voicing

Voicing refers to the position of the vocal chords, either apart allowing air to pass through unhindered, or together so that the air passing through cases the vocal chords to vibrate. The English "k" is unvoiced. The English "g" is voiced.