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Place of Articulation

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Place of Articulation

In phonetics and phonology, we refer to the place of articulation, manner of articulation and voicing when describing consonant production.

In this article, we'll look at:

  • The definition of 'place of articulation'
  • The different places of articulation
  • A diagram of the different places of articulation
  • Different types of consonants

Voicing refers to if a consonant sound is voiced or voiceless (like whispering).

Manner of articulation refers to the way in which articulators release the airflow to create a consonant sound.

Place of articulation definition

The place of articulation refers to where the articulators (tongue, teeth, lips or glottis) make contact in the vocal tract to create consonant sounds. Let's look at the process of consonant production to see where place of articulation fits in.

The process of consonant production is:

  1. Air builds up in the lungs;
  2. Air then moves toward the trachea, larynx and pharynx;
  3. The diaphragm and chest muscles control airflow;
  4. The vocal cords in the larynx, start a vibration cycle which builds up air pressure and generates acoustic waves;
  5. The airflow can go either through the oral cavity or the nasal cavity, depending on the sound.
  6. Finally, the air is modified by the articulators (lips, tongue, teeth and palate).

The gap between the vocal cords is called the glottis and can be either closed (so no air passes through), partially open (making the vocal folds vibrate to make “voiced sounds”) or open (the airflow passes through with no vibration to make “Voiceless sounds”).

Places of articulation

Speech sounds are separated according to place and manner of articulation. There are seven places of articulation:

  • Bilabial: contact between the lips;
  • Labio-dental: contact between the lower lip and the upper teeth;
  • Dental: contact between the tip of the tongue and the area just behind the upper teeth;
  • Alveolar: contact between the tongue and the Alveolar ridge (this is the ridged area between the upper teeth and the hard palate);
  • Palatal: contact between the tongue and the hard palate or Alveolar ridge;
  • Postalveolar: contact between the tongue and the back of the Alveolar ridge;
  • Velar: contact between the tongue and the soft palate;
  • Glottal: restriction of the airflow at the glottis.

Place of articulation diagram

Place of Articulation, Place of articulation diagram, StudySmarterThere are eight different places of articulation. - slideshare.net

Coronal, dorsal and labial consonants

Let's now look in more detail at how we group these consonants:

1. Coronal

Coronal consonants are speech sounds made with the most flexible part of the mouth: the tongue. Coronal consonants can be bilabial, dental, labiodental, alveolar and post-alveolar.

There are four further sub-categories:

  • Apical: made by the tip of the tongue;
  • Laminal: made by the blade of the tongue;
  • Domed: made when the tongue bends upwards;
  • Sub-apical: made at the bottom of the tongue.

In English, the coronal consonants are / l, s, z, n, d, t /. It is good to be aware of coronal consonants, especially if you are learning a new language because it helps to know which part of the tongue to use.

2. Dorsal

Dorsal consonants are speech sounds created with the tongue, but they use the body of the tongue rather than the tip or the blade. Dorsal consonants include palatal and velar consonants.

Because of the flexibility of the tongue's dorsum (its back), we can reach a wide area in the roof of the mouth: from the hard palate (where we form the palatal consonants) to the velum (where we form the velar consonants).

In we have four types of dorsal consonants in English:

  • Voice palatal approximant: made with the middle or back of the tongue touching the hard palate.
  • Voiced velar nasal: made with the back of the tongue touching the soft palate, with airflow escaping from the nose.
  • Voiced velar plosive: made with the back of the tongue touching the soft palate and the vibration of the vocal cords.
  • Voiceless velar plosive: made with the back of the tongue touching the soft palate with no vibration of the vocal cords.

3. Labial

Labial consonants are speech sounds created when one or both lips interact as active articulators. As we have seen before, labial consonant divide in bilabial and labio-dental.

There are five ways of making labials in English:

  • Voiceless bilabial plosive: articulated with both lips and with no vibration of the vocal cords.
  • Voiced bilabial plosive: articulated with both lips and with the vibration of the vocal cords.
  • Labiodental nasal: articulated with the lower lip and upper teeth, with the airflow escaping through the nose.
  • Voiceless labiodental fricative: articulated with the lower lip and upper teeth, with no vibration of the vocal cords.
  • Voiced labiodental fricative: articulated with the lower lip and upper teeth, with the vibration of the vocal cords.

Place of Articulation - Key takeaways

  • Place of articulation, or point of articulation, is about the points of contact between the articulators and the vocal tract.
  • There are seven places of articulation: bilabial, labiodental, dental, alveolar, post-alveolar, palatal and velar.
  • We don't consider the glottal sound a place of articulation as it's generated by the airflow being 'stopped' in the vocal cords.
  • Coronal consonants are speech sounds made with the most flexible part of the mouth: the tongue. They include bilabial, dental, labiodental, alveolar and post-alveolar.
  • Dorsal consonants are speech sounds created with the tongue, but they use the body of the tongue rather than the tip or the blade. Dorsal consonants include palatal and velar consonants.
  • Labial consonants are speech sounds created when one or both lips interact as active articulators. As we have seen before, labial consonant divide in bilabial and labio-dental.

Frequently Asked Questions about Place of Articulation

We refer to the place of articulation where the articulators in the vocal tract make contact (or not) to create the sound of the consonant.

We have seven categories: bilabial, labio-dental, dental, alveolar, velar, post-alveolar and palatal.

A bilabial consonant sound is created by the lips making contact with each other.

The glottis consonant is the sound created by the airflow cutting in the vocal cords.

 A velar consonant sound is created by the tongue making contact with the soft palate.

Final Place of Articulation Quiz

Question

Choose the right answer - Which one of the below consonants is labio-dental?

Show answer

Answer

 f, v

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Question

What is a dental consonant?

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Answer

A dental consonant sound is created by the tip tongue making contact with the upper teeth. 

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Question

What is a palatal consonant?


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Answer

A palatal consonant sound is created by the tongue's contact with the hard palate and the alveolar ridge.

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Question

Can you give two examples of dental consonant sounds?

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Answer

Two dental sounds are: / θ / “th” in think or thick and / ð / “th” in that or rather.

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Question

Choose the correct answer - Which ones are velar consonant sounds?

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Answer

k, g, ŋ


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Question

True or false - The postalveolar consonant sound is created with the lips.


Show answer

Answer

 False. The postalveolar sound is created by the tongue making contact with the area before the alveolar ridge.


Show question

Question

What is the definition of a coronal consonant?

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Answer

A coronal consonant is a speech sound made with the most flexible part of the mouth: the tongue. Coronal consonants include bilabial, dental, labiodental, alveolar and post-alveolar.

Show question

Question

W.hat is the definition of a dorsal consonant?

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Answer

A dorsal consonant is a speech sound created with the tongue, but they use the body of the tongue rather than the tip or the blade. Posterior consonants include palatal and velar consonants.

Show question

Question

What is the definition of a labial consonant?

Show answer

Answer

A labial consonant is a sound speech created when one or both lips interact as active articulators. As we have seen before, labial consonant divide in bilabial and labio-dental.

Show question

Question

How many coronal consonants do we have in the English language? Which ones?

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Answer

W.e have four. They are apical, laminal, domed and sub-apical.

Show question

Question

How many dorsal consonants do we have in the English language? Which ones?

Show answer

Answer

We have four types and they are:

  • Voice palatal approximant
  • Voiced velar nasal
  • Voiced velar plosive
  • Voiceless velar plosive

Show question

Question

How many labial consonants do we have in the English language? Which ones?

Show answer

Answer

We have five and they are: 

  • Voiceless bilabial plosive
  • Voiced bilabial plosive
  • Labiodental nasal
  • Voiceless labiodental fricative
  • Voiced labiodental fricative

Show question

Question

How many places of articulation do we have?

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Answer

W.e have seven places of articulation.

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Question

True or false - Postalveolar consonants are created by the tongue making contact with the upper teeth.

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Answer

False. Postalveolar consonants are created by the tongue making contact with the back of the Alveolar ridge.

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Question

What is the place of articulation

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Answer

We refer to the place of articulation or point of articulation, where the articulators (tongue, teeth, lips or glottis) in the vocal tract make contact (or not) to create the sound of the consonant.

Show question

Question

True or false - Voiced velar plosive are consonants made with the back of the tongue touching the soft palate and the vibration of the vocal cords.

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Answer

True.

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Question

Which of these refers to where the articulators make contact in the vocal tract?

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Answer

Place of articulation

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Question

Which of these is not an articulator?

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Answer

Uvula

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Question

What is the first step in the process of consonant production?

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Answer

Air builds up in the lungs.

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Question

How is a 'dental' consonant sound produced?

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Answer

The tongue makes contact with the teeth.

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