Monday, July 4, 2011

Speech Sound Classification

Ok lets get down on the speech sound classification. Always bear in mind throughout this so-called mock lesson that we are dealing with sounds of ENGLISH! Not Urdu, Arabic or French. Understand??

The IPA chart. What does a IPA  chart bears?  The most evident one is phonetic alphabets.  Now you the forgetful bunch might ask, what is that? Phonetic alphabets is what assists you in pronouncing a particular word even if you are an Indonesian attempting to speak English or other languages. It serves crucial importance as alphabetic spelling can’t denote the right pronunciation, deceiving its speakers in terms of meaning and the word-used itself.

Well honey, alphabetic spelling can signify the pronunciation of words, but representations merely through spelling or orthography can confuse things, further leaving you sipping another few cups of coffee to just stay on the same page. Pathetic! Depending only on alphabetic spelling can give you a devastating F in exam. Why? Because:

1.       Different alphabets may represent single sound
To, two, threw  ( easy example; you can’t pronounce two as t-woh right?) All three make use of the sound [u] as in /tu/, for to and two and /θru/ for threw. NOT their respective alphabetic sounds!

2.       A single alphabet may represent different sounds
Call, hard, dad (without the help of phonetic alphabets “call” can become “kall”) the vowel ‘a’ is used in these three words but it is not pronounced in the same way . call is mouthed /kɔl/, hard as /hɑrd/ and dad is pronounced /dæd/.

3.       Some letters are silent sounds in certain words. (Dead alphabets, easy to remember)
Write /raɪt/ (dead w) ,knot/nɒt/(dead k) , gnaw//(dead g). Very easy right this one?? So from this moment onwards no more “veh-right” ok?

I think those  three are enough to justify why phonetic alphabets are worth worshipping! They serve as the heartbeat of pronunciations okay? Now let’s put the IPA chart under the spotlight.
Well you know how a typical IPA  chart looks like, don’t you? If you saying NO then I would kindly link you one.
The IPA consonant chart

1.      1. The IPA chart is a guideline on the production and classification of the particular phonetic alphabet sound.  It is further divided into vowels, diacritics, vowels, suprsegmentals and other symbols.The above is the IPA consonant chart.
2.      2. By understanding the IPA consonant chart you can deduce some information about English consonantal sounds. You recognize its place of articulation (horizontal ), manner of articulation(vertical) and identify voiced/voiceless sounds (the one on the right side in paired symbols are voiced consonants) of a particular phoneme.

Hmm to make it easy to remember; just imagine you are somewhere. First you must consider where you are (place), then think in what way you want to behave (manner), finally decide whether you wanna talk or just keep silent (voiced/voiceless)

Well this table below is a simplified one to understand the consonant chart ( you may ignore the affricates as they are the “combination of consonants” and not consonants by themselves but it might be useful in coming chapters..who knows..)
Simplified version

Well to understand on the places and manner of articulation I think it would be better to link you guys to  (make sure you have your flashplayer updated ) and for voiced/voiceless sounds, do visit if in case you have forgetten how we used to hold our throat to feel vibration for voiced sounds and experiment whether paper sheet can fly in the making of voiceless sounds.

Before we end on consonants let me clear up on some things stated on the chart. Did you realize the word “pulmonic” stated in the bracket just beside “consonants”. Ask me why!

For your knowledge guys, all sounds in English are pulmonic sounds. They are sounds made by using air from our lungs which is then pushed out (egressed) in the process of producing these sounds. This mechanism is called the Pulmonic Egressive Airstream Mechanism.

Thank You
Renuka G