Place of Articulation
January 29, 2014
The Agenda
• Due at 5 pm tonight: backwards name exercise!
• For Friday, there will be a transcription exercise on place
of articulation.
• Hungarian and Bengali
• For Monday: provide both narrow + broad transcriptions
of either American or British English sentences.
• Your choice!
• This is a graded homework exercise.
Moving On
• Hitherto: rapidly running through the vocal tract
• for English only
• From here on out:
• go back through the whole process in slow motion
• building up our understanding of how speech sounds
are made in the process…
• for all the languages of the world.
• Goal: get from what we know about articulation to acoustics
• i.e., how speech sounds are transmitted through the air
Just So You Know
• This (and most future lectures) will include sound
samples from many different languages from around the
• Sound files may be found at:
• And also on the Course in Phonetics CD
Consonant Dimensions:
1. Airstream Mechanism pulmonic egressive p.e.
2. Phonation Type
3. Place of Articulation
4. Aperture
5. Retroflexion
6. Nasality
7. Laterality
Manner of Articulation
• Phoneticians usually combine dimensions 4-7 under the
rubric of manner of articulation.
• Example manners of articulation:
• [t] = (oral) stop
• [n] = nasal stop
• [v] = fricative
• [w] = approximant
• [l] = lateral approximant
= retroflex approximant
= affricate
• Consonant sounds are generally assumed to be:
pulmonic egressive
…unless stated otherwise
• Big picture thought:
• Through combinatorics, language makes a large
number of distinctions out of a minimal number of
articulatory gestures.
English Consonant Chart
Back to the Big Picture
• Through combinatorics…
• languages can make a large number of distinctions out
of a small number of articulatory dimensions
• However--consider the gaps in the IPA chart
• Not all combinations of gestures are possible
• Not all combinations of gestures are likely
• Why?
• The dimensions interact
• They’re based on physical realities
• i.e., they are not abstract
Another Perspective
• Note: all speech sounds involve the flow of air.
• Articulation and acoustics are linked through
• = the study of the flow of air (in speech sounds)
• Aerodynamics can also limit the combinatorial possibilities
of speech.
An Aerodynamic Exception
• Stops
• Stop the flow of air through the articulatory tract
• How is this done?
• By making an airtight seal between articulators
• Are there some places in the articulatory tract where this is
easier than others?
• Try the tongue experiment.
• An easy place: between the lips
• A difficult (impossible?) place: between the teeth and lips
IPA Chart:Stops
• You are already familiar with Bilabial, Alveolar, Velar
• = the 3 most common places of articulation for stops
• UPSID Database (in Maddieson’s Patterns of Sounds,
• surveys 317 languages
• 314 have bilabial stops (Wichita, Hupa, Aleut)
• 316 have alveolar/dental stops (Hawaiian)
• 315 have velar stops (Hupa, Kirghiz)
Palatal Stops
• Peter says:
• 59 languages in UPSID database have palatal stops
• Palatals vs. Velars in Ngwo (spoken in Cameroon)
Also: Palatal Nasals
• symbol:
• not to be
confused with the
velar nasal:
• PL:
• Examples from
Hungarian 
Uvular Stops
• Peter says:
• 47 languages in UPSID database have uvular stops
• Uvular nasal:
• Peter, again:
• Japanese:
Quechua Contrasts
• Quechua is spoken primarily in Bolivia and Peru.
Epiglottals, Glottals
• There are no pharyngeal stops.
• However, there is an epiglottal stop:
• Peter says:
• Check out Stefan’s epiglottis
• There are also glottal stops:
• As in English: “uh-oh”, “bottle”, “kitten”
• More on these later
Epiglottals in Agul
• Agul is spoken in Dagestan, near the Caspian Sea, in
• Note: no nasal pharyngeals, epiglottals, or glottals.
• Why?
Back to the Coronals
Back to the Coronals
Two parameters to consider here:
The active articulator
1. The tongue tip (apical)
2. The tongue blade (laminal)
The passive articulator or target
1. The upper lip (linguo-labial)
2. Between the teeth (interdental)
3. The upper teeth (dental)
4. The alveolar ridge (alveolar)
5. Behind the alveolar ridge (post-alveolar)
Coronal Basics
• Coronal stops are usually dental or alveolar.
• Dental stops are usually laminal
• produced with the blade of the tongue
• as is typical in, e.g., French, Spanish
• Alveolar stops are usually apical
• pronounced with the tip of the tongue
• as is typical in English
• Dental ~ Alveolar contrasts are rare, but they do exist.
Laminal Dentals
• check out
the labiodental flap
Apical Alveolars
Yanyuwa Coronal Contrast
• Yanyuwa is spoken in the Northern Territory of Australia
• UPSID data-Languages with the following number of stop place
2 -- 2
3 -- 171
4 -- 103
5 -- 35
6 -- 6 <-- 5 of these languages are from
• Yanyuwa has 7 stop place contrasts!
Retroflex Stops
• Retroflex stops are produced in the post-alveolar region,
by curling the tip of the tongue back.
• Common in south Asian languages.
•Peter says:
Sindhi place contrasts
Malayalam Place Contrasts
Yanyuwa, again

7-Place - Bases Produced