Articulacy Phonetics: How Sounds are Produced

Articulacy Phonetics: How Sounds are Produced

              How sounds are produced? Sounds, the sounds production and the speech organs  are  closely  related  to  each  other.  To  produce  sounds,  the  speaker  has  to follow  some  processes  that  employ  speech  organs.  By  knowing  the  process, hopefully  the  non-native  speakers  are  able  to  produce  English  sounds  easily  and correctly

a.      Speech Sounds Production

How can we produce speech? In this section we will study the production of speech sounds from an articulatory point of view in order to understand better subsequent sections about vowel and consonant sounds.

Trujillo (2002:1) It must be said that speech does not  start in the lungs. It starts in the brain and it is, then, studied by Psycholinguistics. After the creation of the message and the lexico-grammatical structure in our mind, we need a representation of the sound sequence and a number of commands which will be executed by our speech organs to produce the utterance. So, we need a phonetic plan of and a motor.

After this metal operations we come to the physical production of sounds. Speech, then, is produced by an air stream from the lungs, which goes through the trachea and the oral and nasal cavities. It involves four processes: Initiation, phonation, oro-nasal process and articulation.

1.      Initiation Process

Kristo (2005:11) In order to produce sounds, a body of air must be set in motion, it must vibrate — this vibration is what we call a wave of sound. In most cases — and always so in E and Hu this body of air is provided by a pulmonic egressive airstream mechanism. Don’t be frightened of this scientific-sounding expression, it means something simple. The term airstream mechanism refers to how the air is set into motion in order to produce sounds; pulmonic means ‘of the lungs’, and egressive means ‘outward going, leaving’. Altogether, this whole expression refers to the fact that speech sounds are produced by using the air coming out of the lungs. This first stage in the process of sound production setting the air in motion is referred to as the initiation process.

Helgason (2014:2) defines 3  airstream  mechanisms  used  in  world  languages:  pulmonic (involving  lungs),  velaric  (involving  velum  and  tongue)  and  glottalic  (involving glottis and larynx).

a)      Pulmonic (Involving  Lungs)

1)      Pulmonic Egressive Airstream

Friction made with a pulmonic egressive airstream is by far the most commonly occurring turbulent source in imitations, just as  it is in speech. As is the case with speech sounds, a turbulent friction noise can be made at many places in the vocal tract. This type of friction is especially common in the imitation of “basic” sound events, such as the interaction of solids (e.g. knock-ing, scraping and squeaking sounds) and sounds of gases  in motion (e.g. blowing, puffing and hissing sounds).  For example, the impression given by an improvisational actor of the sound of “scraping on a hard surface” is quite speech-like and can be described as a voiceless ve-lar fricative [x].

2)      Pulmonic Ingressive Turbulence

While pulmonic  ingressive friction  is not difficult to produce, it is difficult (or impossible) to produce sibilant fricatives with an ingressive airstream. In other cases,  although  appreciably different,  the acoustic result of ingressive friction is still quite similar acoustically to the egressive counterpart. These facts may  contribute  to its  apparent scarcity in imitations. However, one should note that ingressive friction is encountered in emotive sounds, e.g. sucking in air through one’s teeth to indicate pain

b)     Velaric  (Involving  Velum  and  Tongue)

1)      Velaric Egressive Turbulence

A velaric egressive source has not been encountered in the exploratory data, but one can conceive of such sounds being used to imitate sputtering in liquids. Squeezing a velaric airstream out be-tween the teeth, for example, may faith-fully replicate the sound of a spraying can (although, obviously, this  depends on  denture). An ingressive airstream leads to an acoustically similar result.

2)      Velaric ingressive turbulence

Velaric ingressive turbulence is used to produce click sounds, which are typo-logically rare.  Still, paralinguistic click sounds are encountered quite frequently in speech for example, the dental click even has a more or less standardized orthography, variably written as tut-tut or tsk-tsk.

Airflow  is  generated  by  trapping  air  inside  the  oral  cavity.  This  is  done by closing the back of the tongue against the velum and the lips or the front of the tongue against the upper teeth/alveolar ridge/ palate. By pulling down the body of the  tongue,  the  volume  of  the  enclosed  region  is  expanded  and  a  vacuum  is created. Finally, the closure at the front is released. Velaric ingressive sounds are called „clicks‟. In English, some click sounds are used paralinguistically: e.g. the kissing sound (bilabial click), the „gee up‟ sound (alveolar click) etc.

c)      Glottalic  (Involving Glottis and Larynx).

1)      Glottalic Egressive Turbulence

Glottalic egressive friction is fairly common in languages, but as yet unat-tested in our exploratory data of imita-tions. Possibly, the acoustically similar outcomes of glottalic and pulmonic egressive friction are a contributing factor  why use a glottalic airstream when a pulmonic airstream creates, more or less, the same sound? 

2)      Glottalic Ingressive Turbulence

Voiceless glottalic ingressive speech sounds (i.e., voiceless implosives)  are phonologically distinctive in less than 1% of the world’s languages.  Judging by this typological rarity  one could assume that such sounds  are fairly difficult to produce. The exploratory data have not yet yielded  imitations that make use  of a glottalic ingressive airstream, as such. English speakers sometimes use  a voiceless velar implosive  [ƙ]  to imitate the “glug-glug” sound of pour-ing liquid from a bottle  (the voiced counterpart can also be used).  Thus, despite the typological rarity of such sounds, they still seem to be used in imitations.

2.      Phonation Process

The  phonation  process  occurs  at  the  larynx.  The  larynx  has  two horizontal  folds  of  tissue  in  the  passage  of  air;  they  are  the  vocal  folds.  The  gap between these folds is called the glottis. When glottis is closed no air can pass. Or it  can  have  a  narrow  opening  which  can  make  the  vocal  folds  vibrate  producing the “voiced sounds”. The examples of voiced sounds are: [b], [g], and all vowels. Finally, when the glottis can be wide open, as in normal breathing, thus the vibration of  the vocal folds is reduced, producing the “voiceless sounds”, for example a plosive such as [p], [t], and [k].

Kristo (2005:11)The body of air leaving the lungs does not in itself produce any particular effect (this is what happens when you breathe out). In order to produce speech sounds, the air must be modified while leaving the mouth. Those organs that perform this task are called speech organs. The first speech organ in the path of the air leaving the lungs is the larynx, also called  Adam’s apple, where the  vocal cords  (also called  vocal folds) are found. When simply breathing, the vocal cords are apart, letting the air pass through the larynx freely. The vocal cords, however, can be pushed close together, in which case the air passes through them, making them vibrate. The effect of this vibration is one of the most important features of speech production: voice. Languages use both voice and the lack of it in the production of speech sounds. If the vocal cords vibrate while the given speech sound is articulated, the sound is voiced; if not, it’s voiceless.  This second stage of sound production whether voice is produced in the larynx or not is called the phonation process.

3.      Articulation Process

The  articulation  process  takes  place  in  the  mouth  and  it  is  the  process which  speech  sounds  are  distinguished  from  one  another  in  terms  of  the  place where  and  the  manner  how  they  are  articulated.  In  other  word,  the  people  can distinct the oral cavity, which acts as a resonator, and the articulators, which be  active  or  passive:  upper  and  lower  lips,  upper  and  lower  teeth,  tongue  (tip, blade, front, back) and roof of the mouth (alveolar ridge, palate and velum).

b.      Organ of Speech

1)      The  Respiratory  System

The  respiratory  system  comprises  the  lungs,  the  diaphragm,  the bronchial  tubes,  pharynx,  and  trachea.  The  main  function  of  this  system  is breathing. Lungs  are  the  main  organ  for  respiration.  Lungs  provide  the  energy source  of  airstream  to  create  speech  sound  and  to  organize  speech  sound.  Lungs are the initiator in initiation, so most sounds called pulmonic sound.

J. Tu et al (2013: 16) The respiratory system can be separated into regions based on function or anatomy. Functionally there is the conducting zone (nose to bronchioles), which consists of the respiratory organs that form a path to conduct the inhaled air into the deep lung region. The respiratory zone (alveolar duct to alveoli) consists of the alveoli and the tiny passageways that open into them where the gas exchange takes place. Anatomically, the respiratory system can be divided into the upper and lower respiratory tract. The upper respiratory tract includes the organs located outside of the chest cavity (thorax) area (i.e. nose, pharynx, larynx), whereas the lower respiratory tract includes the organs located almost entirely within it (i.e. trachea, bronchi, bronchiole, alveolar duct, alveoli).

2)      The  Phonatory  System

The  phonatory  system  is  formed  by  the  larynx.  Larynx  is  a  fairly  rigid box made up of cartilages, situated at the top of the trachea and continuous with it so  that  all  air  passing  in  and  out  of  the  lungs  must  pass  through  it.  Inside  the larynx are the first of the structures which can interfere with the air stream, named the vocal cords.  The primary function of the larynx is to convert the energy into audible sound.

3)      The Articulatory System.

The  articulatory  system  consists  of  the  nasal  and  the  oral  cavity.    The nasal cavity is like violin body; its contribution to speech is a matter of resonance. If,  with  the  vocal  cords  vibrating,  the  soft  palate  is  lowered  so  that  the  pharynx and  nasal  cavity  and  oral  cavity  are  connected,  the  whole  mass  of  air  in  the connected cavities vibrates with a characteristic nasal effect.  The  oral  cavity  considered  the  most  important  of  the  three  cavities because it is the most variable in dimensions and shape.  The oral cavity consists commit to users of  lips,  teeth,  tongue,  palate  and  lower  jaw.  The  oral  cavity  can  be  divided  into two  parts  based  on  the  function:  articulators  and  place  of  articulation.  The function of articulators is to transform the sound into intelligible speech.


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