CALLE

Centre for Applied Linguistics & Language Education

Sounds of English: Fricatives

Fricatives – a fricative is a consonant produced by forcing air through a constricted space.  In other words, in producing these sounds, turbulence is caused when the air is forced trough a smaller opening.  Depending on which parts of the vocal tract are used to constrict the airflow, that turbulence causes the sound produced to have a specific character (say have very slowly and stretch out the /v/; pay attention to what happens to the air when the teeth touch the bottom lip for the /v/).  There are five types of fricative in English.  For an interactive example of each sound (including descriptive animation and video), click this link, then in the window that opens, click fricative, and select the appropriate sound.

/f/  /v/ labiodental fricatives

A labiodental (from labia lip and dental teeth) fricative is a sound in which the flow of air out of the body is constricted by upper teeth to the lower lip, creating turbulence for the air, but not stopping its passage out of the mouth. English has two labiodental fricatives – /f/ in which the vocal chords are not used (voiceless) as in fire and laughter, and /v/ in which they are used as in very and of.

/θ/  /ð/ linguadental fricatives

linguadental (from lingua tongue and dental teeth) fricative is a sound in which the flow of air out of the body is constricted by touching the tongue to the bottom edge of the front upper teeth, creating a narrow opening through which the air passes. English has two linguadental fricatives — voiceless /θ/ as in think and math, and /ð/ which is voiced as in this and father.

/s/  /z/ lingua-alveolar fricatives

lingua-alveolar (from lingua tongue and alveola the ridge just behind the front upper teeth) fricative is a sound in which the flow of air out of the body is constricted by touching the tongue to the alveolar ridge — the part of the roof of the mouth, just behind the upper front teeth, creating a narrow opening through which the air passes. English has two lingua-alveolar fricatives — voiceless /s/ as in say and class, and /z/ which is voiced as in zebra and is.

/∫/  /ʒ/  lingua-palatal fricatives

lingua-palatal (from lingua tongue and palate the top of the mouth) fricative is a sound in which the flow of air out of the body is constricted by touching the tongue to the hard palate — the part of the roof of the mouth, just behind the alveolar ridge (see above), creating a narrow opening through which the air passes. English has two lingua-palatal fricatives — voiceless /∫/ as in shoe, pressure, and machine, and /ʒ/ which is voiced as in azure, pleasure, and rouge.

/h/  /ɦ/ glottal fricatives

glottal (from glottis the area of the windpipe behind the tongue) fricative is a sound in which the flow of air out of the body is constricted by tightening the glottis — the part of the windpipe behind (below) the tongue which contains the vocal cords, creating a narrow opening through which the air passes before entering the mouth. English has two types of glottal fricative — voiceless /h/ as in happy and hello, and /ɦ/ which actually represent an entire class of voiced glottal fricatives — vowels (more on this here).

Continue reading Part 3.3: Affricates

January 10, 2010 Posted by | English Linguistics | , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

   

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 114 other followers