In the English language, the same letter is pronounced in different ways. Like-car, hat, game, share, water and alone. In these words the pronunciation of ‘a’ is done differently.
Phonetics is defined as the science of speech sounds.
Definition of Phonetics :
It is the study of the range of sounds which occur in speech, including the way they are produced by the speech organs and their acoustic properties.
– Despite there being just 26 letters in the English language there are approximately 44 unique sounds which help distinguish one word or meaning from another.
Therefore, in Phonetics we study the sounds of spoken language. The production of speech is the result of the mutual activities of different organs of the body. These body organs which produce speech sounds are called organs of speech.
Organs of speech/Vocal organs :
– The sounds of speech are produced by breath forced from the lungs and modified by the vocal organs.
– The sound of speech is produced when the forced breath by the lungs is modified by the vocal organs.
List of vocal organs
- nasal cavity
- hard palate
- soft palate
- vocal folds/cords
- jaw bone
Speech sounds are classified into two types-
(a) Vowel Sounds (b) Consonant Sounds
|ppen, copy, happenbback, baby, jobttea, tight, buttondday, ladder, oddkkey, clock, schoolgget, giggle, ghosttʃchurch, match, naturedʒjudge, age, soldierffat, coffee, rough, photovview, heavy, moveithing, author, pathðthis, other, smoothssoon, cease, sisterzzero, music, roses, buzzʃship, sure, nationalʒpleasure, visionhhot, whole, aheadmmore, hammer, sumnnice, know, funny, sunŋring, anger, thanks, sungllight, valley, feelrright, wrong, sorry, arrangejyet, use, beauty, fewwwet, one, when, queen||ɪkit, bid, hymn, minuteedress, bed, head, manyætrap, badɒlot, odd, washʌstrut, mud, love, bloodʊfoot, good, putiːfleece, sea, machineeɪface, day, breakaɪprice, high, tryɔɪchoice, boyuːgoose, two, blue, groupəʊgoat, show, noaʊmouth, nowɪənear, here, wearyyessquare. fair, variousɑːstart, fatherɔːthought, law, north, warʊəpoor, jury, cureɜːnurse, stir, learn, referaabout, common, standardihappy, radiate. gloriousuthank you, influence, situation|
– In English it is important to know that there is difference between a vowel sound and a (letter) in the alphabet. There are five vowel letters in the alphabet. i.e. a, e, i, o, u.
– Vowels are broadly classified into two broad categories-
(1) Monophthongs (Pure vowels)
(2) Diphthongs (Vowel glides)
(1) Monophthongs –
These are 12 in number. The vowels do not change in quality even when they are made long.
|S.No.||Symbols||Key words||Phonetic Transcription||Pronunciation|
|1.||/i ː/||See, heat||/and /,/hi ː t/||(E)|
|3.||/e/||m e t, b e d||/met/,/bed/||(A)|
|5.||/ ɑ ː /||arm, father||/ɑ ː (r)m/,/ˈ fɑ ː ðə(r)/||(Come)|
|6.||/ɒ/||hot, rock||/hɒt/, /rɒk/||(O)|
|7.||/ɔ ː/||call, our||/to ː l/, /to ː (r)/||(au)|
|8.||/u ː/||blue, food||/blu ː /,/fu ːd/||(he)|
|11.||/ɜ ː/||turn, learn||/tɜː (r)n/, /lɜ ː (r)n/||(Ar)|
|12.||/е/||away, cinema||/əˈweɪ/, /ˈsɪnəmə/||(v)|
(2) Diphthongs –
If we slightly change the position of the tongue while the vowel is being produced, we speak of a gliding vowel or simply a glide. Other term for diphthongs are moving vowels.
Vowel glide means that the position of the speech organs starts from one vowel and moves in the direction of another vowel.
– We can classify diphthongs in following parameters-
(a) Closing diphthongs – These are those diphthongs whose final position is that of a close vowel we can say that the tongue moves from a more open to a less open /close position.
Eg: /taɪm/ (time), /faɪv/ (five)
/leɪt/ (late), /deɪ/ (day)
/bɔɪ/ (boy), /vɔɪs/ (voice)
/aʊt/ (out), /faʊl/ (foul)
/s əʊ / (so), /sl əʊ / (slow)
(b) Centering diphthongs – These are those diphthongs whose final position is that of a central vowel, i.e. the part of the tongue that moves from the front/back to the center.
Eg: /reə(r)/ (rare), /beə(r)/ (bear)
/pʊə(r)/ (poor), /ʃʊə(r)/ (sure)
/dɪə(r)/ (deer), /tʃɪə(r)/ (cheer)
– A consonant is a letter of the alphabet that represents a basic speech sound produced by obstructing the breath in the vocal tract. All the letters in the alphabet apart from A, E, I, O and U (called vowels) are known as consonants.
Eg: T is pronounced using the tongue (front part).
K is pronounced using the tongue (back part).
B is pronounced with the lips.
H is pronounced in the throat.
F is pronounced by forcing air through a narrow gap.
M is pronounced using the nasal passage.
There are 24 consonants in the English alphabet. Which can be divided as follows-
|Plosives (6)||fricatives (9)||Affricates (2)||Sonorants (4)||Glides (3)|
|1.Bilabial Plosives(p,b,)||1. Labio-dental(f,v)||1.Alveolar palate voiceless (tʃ)||1.Bilabial nosal (m)||1.Rounded Labiovelar (w)|
|2.Alveolar Plosives(t, d)||2.dental fricatives (ð, θ)||2.Alveolar palate voiced (dʒ)||2.Alveolar nasal (n)||2.Tongue front palatal (j)|
|3.Velar Plosives(k,g,)||3. Alveolar fricatives(s,z)||3.Velar nasal (ŋ)||3.Frictionless continuents (r)|
|4.Alveolar palate (ʃ,ʒ)||4.Lateral (l)|
(1) Plosives –
In it the air in the lungs is briefly blocked from flowing out through the mouth and nose and pressure builds up behind the blockage.
Eg: peak, big, tear, dog, cat, gap etc.
(a) Bilabial plosives (p, b,) – Both the lips are involved. Both the lips match in the pronunciation of these consonants.
Eg: pack, pride, banana, back etc.
(b) Alveolar plosives (t, d) – At the time of articulation of these consonants, the front tip of the tongue touches the root behind the upper teeth.
Eg: dry, wedding, hide, tea, attend, kite etc.
(c) Velar plosives (k, g,) – In the pronunciation of Velar consonants, the distance between the back part of the tongue and the soft palate decreases.
Eg; king, scheme, dock, glass, august, bag etc.
(2) Fricatives –
At the time of articulation of these consonants the air passage becomes extremely narrow, due to which the air is released with audible friction.
Eg: flower, very, method, with etc.
(a) Labio-dental (f,v) – In their pronunciation, the lower lip comes near the upper teeth. The active articulator is the lower lip and the passive articulators are the upper front teeth, the narrowing is between the lower lip and the upper teeth.
Eg: affair, divide, photo, leave etc.
(b) Dental fricatives (ð, θ) – The tip of the tongue is the active articulator and the upper front teeth are the passive articulators.
Eg: thick, ether, cloth, soothe, the etc.
(c) Alveolar fricatives (s,z) – The tip of the tongue is the active articulator and the teeth ridge is the passive articulator.
Eg: city, escape, price, occasion, fuss etc.
(d) Palato alveolar (ʃ,ʒ) – At the time of pronunciation of these consonants, the front part of the tongue touches the teeth ridge, the back part of the upper teeth and at the same time the front part of the tongue also touches the palate.
Eg: sure, machine, dish, usual, garage etc.
(e) Glottal fricative (h) – These sounds are produced at the glottis and the two vocal cords are the articulators.
Eg: head, behold, high etc.
(3) Affricates –
There is complete closure of the air-passage and then the air is released slowly with friction.
Eg: cheer, jump etc.
(a) Palato alveolar voiceless (tʃ) – The closure or narrowing is between tip of the tongue and the teeth-ridge, with the front of the tongue also raised towards the hard palate.
Eg: chain, kitchen, mature etc.
(b) Palato alveolar voiced (dʒ) – The name given ‘voiced’ which means vocal cords vibrate during the articulation.
Eg: gem, suggest, age etc.
(4) Sonorants –
In the pronunciation of these consonants, the tip of the tongue first goes up towards the palate and comes down-
Eg: meal, neat, lake, singer etc.
(a) Bilabial nasal (m) – Soft palate is lowered in a manner completely blocking the oral passage and allowing the air to pass through the nose and both the lips are involved.
Eg: march, lemon, film etc.
(b) Alveolar nasal (n)– It is a nasal consonant which means air is allowed to escape through the nose, either exclusively or in addition to through the mouth.
Eg: nation, wonder, sun, gone etc.
(c) Velar nasal (ŋ) – In this you curl your tongue up against the back of the mouth and the air comes out from the nose.
Eg: hanger, among etc.
(d) Lateral (l) – Air comes out from the side of the tongue due to obstruction in the middle of its pronunciation.
Eg: lock, fly, doll, pool etc.
(5) Glides –
There is wide opening between articulators, so in their pronunciation air passes relatively more freely without friction.
Eg: yes, raw, where etc.
(a) Rounded labiovelar (w) – Both the lips are closely rounded in their pronunciation.
Eg: word, twig, wet, swim etc.
Some Phonetic Transcriptions Example
Important Quiz on Phonetics
here is the most valuable quiz for phonetics chapter.
Choose the correct transcription for “genuine”.
None of the above
Genuine is transcribed as /’dʒenjuɪn/.
Direction (1-30) Choose the correct phonetic transcription and identify the underlined sound.
Which of these terms refer to the study of speech process?
- Phonetics is the study of speech processes. It includes the anatomy, neurology and pathology of speech. It also includes the articulation, classification and perception of speech sounds. It shouldn’t be confuse with phonology, which is the study of speech sounds of a given language and their function within the sound system of that language.
What is the full form of IPA?
Indian Phonetic Alphabet
Indian Phonetic Agreement
International Phonetic Alphabet
International Phonetic Agreement
- IPA is International Phonetic Alphabet which provides a uniform alphabet which provides a uniform international medium for studying and transcribing sounds of all languages of the world. In case of English, it assists in creating international intelligibility in pronunciation.
Choose the correct transcription for ‘grab’.
None of the above
- Grab /’græb/ (verb, noun).
meaning – To take or hold somebody /something with your hand suddenly, firmly or roughly.
Choose the correct transcription for “decent”.
All of the above
Decent- /ˈdiːs(ə)nt/ (adjective).
Meaning – of a good enough standard or quality.
Ex.- I need a decent night’s sleep.
Choose the correct transcription for “Family”.
None of the above.
- Family – /’fæməli/(noun, adjective).
Meaning – A group consisting of one or two parents and their children.
Choose the correct transcription for “generation”.
None of the above
Generation – /dʒenə’reɪʃn/ (noun).
Meaning – All the people who were born at about the same time.
Ex.- My generation have grown up without the experience of a world war.
Choose the correct transcription for “insight”.
None of the above
- Insight /’ɪnsəɪt/ (noun).
Meaning – The ability to see and understand the truth about people or situations.
- A writer of great insight.
Choose the correct transcription for “light”.
None of the above
- Light /laɪt/(noun).
Meaning – The energy from the sun, a lamp etc.
Ex.- A room with good natural light.
Choose the correct transcription for “benefit”.
Benefit -/’benɪfɪt/ (noun, verb).
Meaning – An advantage that something gives you.
Ex.- I’ve had the benefit of a good education.
How many plosive sounds are there in English?
- Plosive Sounds = /P/, /t/, /k/, /b/, /d/, /g/.