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Principles of Classification




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Consonants are made with air stream that meets an obstruction with mouth or nasal cavities. That is why in the production of consonants there is a certain degree of noise.

On the articulatory level the consonants change:

1) in the degree of noise;

2) in the type of obstruction;

3) in the place of articulation and the active speech organ;

4) in the work of the vocal cords;

5) in the degree of force of articulation.

1. The Degree of Noise.

According to the degree of noise consonants are divided into two big classes:

Class A: Noise consonants.

Class B: Sonorants.

Class A. In the production of noise consonants there is a noise component characteristic.

Noise consonants vary:

1) in the work of the vocal cords;

2) in the degree of force of articulation.

According to the work of the vocal cords they may be voiceless and voiced.

Voiced consonants are: [b, d, g, v, D, z, Z, dZ].

Voiceless consonants are: [p, t, k, f, q, s, S, tS, h].

The degree of noise vary because of the force of articulation. Strong (fortis) noise consonants are produced with more muscular energy and stronger breath effort. Weak (lenis) noise consonants are produced with a relatively weak breath effort.

Class B. Sonorants are made with tone prevailing over noise because of a rather wide air passage. They are [m, n, N, w, l, r, j].

2. The Type of Obstruction.

The manner of articulation of consonants is determined by the type of obstruction. The obstructions may be complete and incomplete. When the obstruction is complete the organs of speech are in contact and the air stream meets a closure in the mouth or nasal cavities.

In case of an incomplete obstruction the active organ of speech moves towards the point of articulation and the air stream goes through the narrowing between them.

According to the manner of articulation consonants may be of three groups:

1) occlusive;

2) constrictive;

3) occlusive-constrictive (affricates).

Occlusive consonants are sounds in the production of which the air stream meets a complete obstruction in the mouth. Occlusive noise consonants are called stops because the breath is completely stopped at some point of articulation and then it is released with a slight explosion, that is why they are also called plosives. Occlusive noise consonants are: [p, b, t, d, k, g]



Occlusive sonorants are also made with a complete obstruction but the soft palate is lowered and the air stream escapes through the nose, so they are nasal. Occlusive nasal sonorants are: [m, n, N].

Constrictive consonants are those in the production of which the air stream meets an incomplete obstruction, so the air passage is constricted. Constrictive noise consonants are called fricatives because the air escapes through the narrowing with friction. Fricatives are: [f, v, q, D, s, z, S, Z, h].

Constrictive sonorants are also made with an incomplete obstruction but with a rather wide air passage, so tone prevails over noise. Constrictive sonorants are: [w, r, l, j]. They are all oral, because in their production the soft palate is raised.

Occlusive-constrictive consonants are noise consonant sounds produced with a complete obstruction which is slowly released and the air escapes from the mouth with some friction. There are only two occlusive-constrictives: [tS, dZ]

3. The Place of Articulation and the Active Speech Organ.

The place of articulation is determined by the active organ of speech against the point of articulation.

According to the position of the active organ of speech against the point of articulation consonants may be:

1) labial;

2) lingual;

3) glottal.

Labial consonants are made by the lips. They may be bilabial (both lips are active): [p, b, m, w], and labio-dental (articulated with the lower lip against the edge of the upper teeth): [f, v].

Lingual consonants are classified into forelingual, mediolingual and backlingual.

Forelingual consonants are articulated with the tip or the blade of the tongue. According to the place of obstruction forelingual consonants may be:

1) interdental;

2) alveolar;

3) post-alveolar;

4) palato-alveolar.

Interdental consonants are made with the tip of the tongue projected between the teeth: [q, D]

Alveolars are articulated with the tip against the upper teeth ridge: [t, d, s, z, n, l].

Post-alveolars are made when the tip or the blade of the tongue is against the back part the teeth ridge or just behind it: [r].

Palato-alveolars are made with the tip of the blade of the tongue against the teeth ridge and the front part of the tongue raised towards the hard palate: [tS, dZ, S, Z].

Medio-lingual consonants are produced with the front part of the tongue. They are always palatal. Palatals are made with the front part of the tongue raised high to the hard palate: [ j ].

Back-lingual consonants are also called velar because they are produced with the back part of the tongue raised towards the soft palate (Lat. velum): [k, g, N].

The glottal consonant [h] is articulated in the glottis.

Classification of consonants according to:

1. THE TYPE OF OBSTRUCTION:

Noise Consonants   Sonorants
occlusive (plosives or stops) constrictive (fricatives) occlusive-constrictive (affricates) occlusive (nasal) constrictive (oral)
p b t d k g f v q D s z S Z h tS dZ   m n N w l r j

2. THE PLACE OF ARTICULATION AND THE ACTIVE SPEECH ORGAN:




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