Saturday, February 23, 2008

English phonology - Consonants


This is the English Consonantal System using symbols from the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA).

  bilabial labio-
dental alveolar post-
palatal velar glottal
plosive p  b     t  d     k  ɡ  
nasal m     n     ŋ 1  
flap       ɾ 2        
fricative   f  v θ  ð 3 s  z ʃ  ʒ 4 ç 5 x 6 h
affricate         tʃ  dʒ 4      
approximant       ɹ 4   j    
lateral approximant       l        
approximant ʍ  w 7
  1. The velar nasal [ŋ] is a non-phonemic allophone of /n/ in some northerly British accents, appearing only before /k/ and /g/. In all other dialects it is a separate phoneme, although it only occurs in syllable codas.
  2. The alveolar flap [ɾ] is an allophone of /t/ and /d/ in unstressed syllables in North American English and Australian English.[35] This is the sound of tt or dd in the words latter and ladder, which are homophones for many speakers of North American English. In some accents such as Scottish English and Indian English it replaces /ɹ/. This is the same sound represented by single r in most varieties of Spanish.
  3. In some dialects, such as Cockney, the interdentals /θ/ and /ð/ are usually merged with /f/ and /v/, and in others, like African American Vernacular English, /ð/ is merged with dental /d/. In some Irish varieties, /θ/ and /ð/ become the corresponding dental plosives, which then contrast with the usual alveolar plosives.
  4. The sounds /ʃ/, /ʒ/, and /ɹ/ are labialised in some dialects. Labialisation is never contrastive in initial position and therefore is sometimes not transcribed. Most speakers of General American realize <r> (always rhoticized) as the retroflex approximant /ɻ/, whereas the same is realized in Scottish English, etc. as the alveolar trill.
  5. The voiceless palatal fricative /ç/ is in most accents just an allophone of /h/ before /j/; for instance human /çjuːmən/. However, in some accents (see this), the /j/ is dropped, but the initial consonant is the same.
  6. The voiceless velar fricative /x/ is used by Scottish or Welsh speakers of English for Scots/Gaelic words such as loch /lɒx/ or by some speakers for loanwords from German and Hebrew like Bach /bax/ or Chanukah /xanuka/. /x/ is also used in South African English. In some dialects such as Scouse (Liverpool) either [x] or the affricate [kx] may be used as an allophone of /k/ in words such as docker [dɒkxə]. Most native speakers have a great deal of trouble pronouncing it correctly when learning a foreign language. Most speakers use the sounds [k] and [h] instead.
  7. Voiceless w [ʍ] is found in Scottish and Irish English, as well as in some varieties of American, New Zealand, and English English. In most other dialects it is merged with /w/, in some dialects of Scots it is merged with /f/.

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