GLOSSARY


Affricate
A plosive followed immediately by a fricative at the same point of articulation, the two sounds coming so close together that they sound like one sound.
Alveolar
The tip of the tongue articulates with the alveolum. See 'Alveolum'.
Alveolo-palatal
The blade of the tongue (the part immediately behind the tip) is flattened, and articulates with the back of the alveolum. See 'Alveolum'.
Alveolum
The bony ridge behind the upper front teeth.
Approximant
The articulators, by shaping the air-stream through the mouth, create a resonance, but not a hiss.
Aspirated
Followed by a strong puff of breath, as though blowing out a candle. See 'Unaspirated'.
Back
A vowel where the back part of the tongue is tense.
Bilabial
The upper and lower lips articulate together.
Breathy
A breathy sound is one accompanied by a sigh, so that a lot of breath passes.
Central
A vowel where the centre of the tongue is tense.
Central approximant
The sides of the tongue touch the molars.
Clear l
The tip of the tongue touches the alveolum, and the front of the tongue (the part behind the tip) is held high and flat, not pushed down. See 'Dark l '.
Close
A vowel where the tense part of the tongue is near to the roof of the mouth.
Close-mid
A vowel where the tense part of the tongue is higher than halfway between the floor and the roof of the mouth.
Content word
A word denoting an object or an action, but which contains no information about how other words near it fit together. So in the phrase, "The problem...", 'problem' is the content word and 'the' is the function word. See 'Function word'.
Dark l
The tip of the tongue touches the alveolum, but the front of the tongue (the part behind the tip) is pushed down towards the lower teeth, creating a hollow space in the mouth and a deeper resonance in the sound. See 'Clear l '.
Denti-alveolar
A sound in which the tongue articulates simultaneously with the back of the upper front teeth and the alveolum. See 'Alveolum'.
Diphthong
A sound consisting of two vowel-sounds that glide imperceptibly one into the other. Some writers use the term to mean 'two vowel letters', which is not the same thing. See 'Monophthong'.
Endolabial
The upper teeth articulate with the inside of the lower lip. See 'Exolabial'.
Exolabial
The upper teeth articulate with the outside of the lower lip. See 'Endolabial'.
Fricative
The air-stream through the mouth is made sufficiently narrow to cause hiss, but not completely blocked.
Front
A vowel where the front part of the tongue is tense.
Fronted
A vowel where the tense part of the tongue is further forward than the named position.
Function word
A word whose main role is not to denote an object or an action, but to show how other words in the sentence fit together. An example is English 'the', which tells us that a noun phrase is now starting, and that this topic has been mentioned before. See 'Content word'.
Glottal
The vocal chords come together to impede or block the airstream.
Labial-palatal
The sound is made with the two lips, but the front of the tongue is also raised.
Labial-velar
The sound is made with the two lips, but the back of the tongue is also raised.
Labio-dental
The upper front teeth articulate with the lower lip.
Lateral approximant
The centre of the tongue touches the roof of the mouth at the specified point; the sides of the tongue are retracted.
Lowered
A vowel where the tense part of the tongue is slightly lower than the named position.
Mid
A vowel where the tense part of the tongue is halfway between the floor and the roof of the mouth.
Monophthong
A vowel that stays the same, and does not glide into another vowel. See 'Diphthong'.
Nasal
Of a consonant, one in which the breath passes through the nose (the articulators block the passage through the mouth). Of a vowel, one in which the breath passes partly through the nose and partly through the mouth. See 'Oral'.
Open
A vowel where the tense part of the tongue is near the floor of the mouth.
Open-mid
A vowel where the tense part of the tongue is lower than halfway between the roof and the floor of the mouth.
Oral
A vowel that is pronounced wholly through the mouth (i.e. no breath passes through the nose). See 'Nasal'.
Palatal
The tongue articulates with the palate, the hard middle part of the roof of the mouth.
Pharyngeal
The tongue articulates with the back wall of the mouth.
Plosive
The air-stream through the mouth is blocked: pressure is built up and released suddenly.
Post-alveolar
The tongue articulates with the area behind the alveolum, where it joins the palate. See 'Alveolum'.
Retroflex
A consonant where the tongue-tip is curled back, so that its underside strikes the roof of the mouth.
Rounded
A vowel where the lips are rounded (by pulling in the corners of the mouth).
Sandhi
The changes that are made to a sound when it stands next to other sounds. The n in English ten cups, for example, is often pronounced as Nː tEN kVps.
Tap
A consonant where one articulator touches the other briefly while in movement.
Trill
A consonant where one articulator vibrates against the other.
Unaspirated
An unaspirated plosive does not have the puff of breath that accompanies most plosives in English. See 'Aspirated'.
Unrounded
A vowel where the lips are spread, not rounded.
Uvular
The tongue articulates with the uvula, the waggly appendage hanging down in the middle of the back of the mouth.
Velar
The tongue articulates with the velum. See 'Velum'.
Velum
The soft back part of the roof of the mouth.
Voiced
With a voiced sound, the vocal chords vibrate: the sound can be sung; if you put your hands over your ears, you can hear a buzz; if you touch your larynx lightly, you can feel vibrations. See 'Voiceless'.
Voiceless
With a voiceless sound, the vocal chords do not vibrate: the sound cannot be sung; if you put your hands over your ears, you do not hear a buzz; and if you touch your larynx lightly, you feel no vibrations. See 'Voiced'.