Consonant - Features

Features

Manners of articulation
  • Obstruent
    Stop
    Affricate
    Fricative
    Sibilant
  • Sonorant
    Nasal
    Flap/Tap
    Approximant
    Liquid
    Vowel
    Semivowel
  • Lateral
  • Trill
Airstreams
  • Pulmonic
  • Ejective
  • Implosive
  • Lingual (clicks)
  • Linguo-pulmonic
  • Linguo-ejective
  • Alliteration
  • Assonance
  • Consonance
  • See also: Place of articulation
This page contains phonetic information in IPA, which may not display correctly in some browsers.

Each spoken consonant can be distinguished by several phonetic features:

  • The manner of articulation is how air escapes from the vocal tract when the consonant or approximant (vowel-like) sound is made. Manners include stops, fricatives, and nasals.
  • The place of articulation is where in the vocal tract the obstruction of the consonant occurs, and which speech organs are involved. Places include bilabial (both lips), alveolar (tongue against the gum ridge), and velar (tongue against soft palate). In addition, there may be a simultaneous narrowing at another place of articulation, such as palatalisation or pharyngealisation.
  • The phonation of a consonant is how the vocal cords vibrate during the articulation. When the vocal cords vibrate fully, the consonant is called voiced; when they do not vibrate at all, it is voiceless.
  • The voice onset time (VOT) indicates the timing of the phonation. Aspiration is a feature of VOT.
  • The airstream mechanism is how the air moving through the vocal tract is powered. Most languages have exclusively pulmonic egressive consonants, which use the lungs and diaphragm, but ejectives, clicks, and implosives use different mechanisms.
  • The length is how long the obstruction of a consonant lasts. This feature is borderline distinctive in English, as in "wholly" vs. "holy", but cases are limited to morpheme boundaries. Unrelated roots are differentiated in various languages such as Italian, Japanese, and Finnish, with two length levels, "single" and "geminate". Estonian and some Sami languages have three phonemic lengths: short, geminate, and long geminate, although the distinction between the geminate and overlong geminate includes suprasegmental features.
  • The articulatory force is how much muscular energy is involved. This has been proposed many times, but no distinction relying exclusively on force has ever been demonstrated.

All English consonants can be classified by a combination of these features, such as "voiceless alveolar stop" . In this case, the airstream mechanism is omitted.

Some pairs of consonants like p::b, t::d are sometimes called fortis and lenis, but this is a phonological rather than phonetic distinction.

Consonants are scheduled by their features in a number of IPA charts:

IPA pulmonic consonantschart image • audio
Place Labial Coronal Dorsal Radical Glottal
↓ Manner Bila­bial Labio-​dental Den​tal Alve​olar Post­alveolar Retro​flex Alveolo-​palatal Pal​a​tal Ve​lar Uvu​lar Pha​ryn​geal Epi​glot​tal Glot​tal
Nasal m ɱ n ɳ̊ ɳ ɲ̟ ɲ̊ ɲ ŋ̊ ŋ ɴ
Stop p b t d ʈ ɖ c ɟ k ɡ q ɢ ʡ ʔ
Fricative ɸ β f v θ ð s z ʃ ʒ ʂ ʐ ɕ ʑ ç ʝ x ɣ χ ʁ ħ ʕ ʜ ʢ h ɦ
Approximant ʋ ɹ ɻ j ɰ
Flap or tap ⱱ̟ ɾ ɽ ɢ̆ ʡ̯
Trill ʙ r ɽ͡r ʀ ᴙ *
Lateral fricative ɬ ɮ ɭ˔̊ ʎ̥˔ ʟ̝̊ ʟ̝
Lateral approximant l ɭ ʎ̟ ʎ ʟ
Lateral flap ɺ ɺ̠ ʎ̯ ʟ̆
Non-pulmonic consonants
Clicks ʘ ǀ ǃ ǂ ǁ
ʘ̃ ʘ̃ˀ ʘ͡q ʘ͡qʼ
Implosives ɓ ɗ ʄ ɠ ʛ
Ejectives t̪ʼ ʈʼ
θʼ ɬʼ ʃʼ ʂʼ ɕʼ χʼ
tsʼ tɬʼ cʎ̝̥ʼ tʃʼ ʈʂʼ kxʼ kʟ̝̊ʼ qχʼ
Affricates
p̪f b̪v ts dz ʈʂ ɖʐ
ɟʝ cʎ̥˔ kx ɡɣ kʟ̝̊ ɡʟ̝
ɢʁ
Co-articulated consonants
Continuants ʍ w ɥ ɧ
Occlusives k͡p ɡ͡b ŋ͡m
These tables contain phonetic symbols, which may not display correctly in some browsers.
Where symbols appear in pairs, left—right represent the voiceless—voiced consonants.
Shaded areas denote pulmonic articulations judged to be impossible.
* Symbol not defined in IPA.

Read more about this topic:  Consonant

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