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Re: XSAMPA Question

From:Andreas Johansson <andjo@...>
Date:Saturday, January 24, 2004, 19:21
Quoting "Mark J. Reed" <markjreed@...>:

> On Fri, Jan 23, 2004 at 09:38:49AM -0800, Gary Shannon wrote: > > But more to the point, where do I go to find out how > > those XSAMPA things are pronounced. If followed a lot > > of Google links, but all I got was things like "close > > front unrounded" which means about as much to me as > > "top green polyester". Is there a site that actually > > explains the difference between close front unrounded > > and top green polyester? > > There are several explanations of the terminology online, > but there's also a site (whose URL I can't find at the moment) > which has audio files of the various symbols being pronounced.
This should be helpful: Andreas
> In principle, the vowel terminology is straightforward. > "Rounded", for instance, means that your lips are rounded, as > they are for saying "ooh" (X-SAMPA [u]). Thus, in French class, > English-speaking students are taught that to say a French <u> > (X-SAMPA [y]), they round their lips for "ooh" but inside their > mouth try to say "eee" (IPA [i]) instead. The only difference > between [y] and [i] is that the former has the lips rounded, the latter > doesn't - and this is true for the other vowels on the chart. > > The terms "open/close" and "front/back" refer to the position of the > tongue and jaw when pronouncing the vowel, which is harder to > get a feel for. Basically, the tongue is used to close off part of your > mouth and create a resonating cavity that is smaller than the entire mouth, > and it is the shape of this cavity which determines which vowel is heard. > "Front" vowels have the tongue pushing forward in the mouth so the > resonating cavity doesn't extend very far toward the throat, while "back" > vowels use most of the front-back space in the mouth. "Open/close" is > the vertical direction; "close" vowels have the tongue pushing upward > toward the roof of the mouth, so the resonating cavity is high in the > mouth, while "open" vowels have the tongue lower (and the jaw open > wider, usually), so more of the mouth's height is used. > > The vowels around the edges of the IPA chart are "cardinal", which means > that they're at the extremes of their respective dimensions. Most > dialects of most languages include non-cardinal vowels which are represented > by the symbol for the closest matching cardinal; when more precision is > required, there are diacritical marks that mean "more open", "more > fronted", etc. > > Consonants are a little more complex. Mostly we worry about the > "pulmonic" consonants at the top of the IPA chart; that just means > they're pronounced by expelling air from the lungs. The rows refer to > how much the airway is blocked when the sound is produced. > > "Plosives", also called "stops", stop the airflow completely while > being pronounced; English examples include b, p, d, t, g, and k. > > "Nasals" have the airway through the mouth completely blocked, like a > stop, but air is allowed to escape through the nose; as with vowels, > the shape of the mouth cavity distinguishes them from each other. > English approximants include m, n, and N (the "ng" sound in "sing"). > > "Trills" have the air shooting past either the uvula or the tip of the > tongue so fast that it vibrates against the mouth, rapidly closing and > opening the airway. > > "Taps" and "flaps" are like trills that are stopped after a single > instance of the close-open cycle. > > "Fricatives" obstruct the airflow partially, resulting in a > hissing-type sound; English examples include f, v, s, z, S (the > "sh" sound), Z ("s" in "measure"), T (the "th" in "path") and > D (the "th" in "the"). > > "Lateral fricatives" have the tongue blocking the airway vertically down > the center of the mouth while allowing air to escape on both sides of > the tongue, so the airstream is forked. English doesn't have any of > these, but Welsh "ll" is an example. > > "Approximants" have only a slightly narrowed airway, with no > interference of the fricatives type. As with vowels and nasals, it is > the shape of the airway which distinguishes them. English approximants > include h, l, r\ (the general "r" in most varieties of American > English), w, and j (the consonantal "y" sound). > > There are also "affricates", which aren't on the chart because they're > composed of combinations of plosives and fricatives, run together so > that they're pronounced at the same time. The English "ch" sound, for > instance, is t + S, while the English "j" sound is d + Z. The English "x" > sound can be regarded as an affricate of k + s, but in most dialects the > two components are pronounced more distinctly; it's just k followed by s, > not k and s run together into a single sound. > > The columns refer to where the constriction in the airway occurs. > > "Bilabial" means that both lips are used; examples are p, b, and w. > > "Labiodental" means that the teeth and lips are used together (usually > upper teeth and lower lip), as in English f and v. > > "Dental" consonants like d, n, s, S use the tongue and the upper teeth; > there are further subdivisions based on whether the tongue touches the > actual teeth (true "dental"), the ridge just behind them > ("alveolar"), or the roof of the mouth just behind that ridge > ("postalveolar"). True "dental" may also be subdivided into plain > "dental", where the tongue touches the back of the teeth, and > "interdental", where the tongue is placed between the upper and lower > teeth (which is how T and D are usually pronounced). > > "Retroflex" consonants are pronounced with the tip of the tongue curling > backward toward the throat so that the underside of the tongue touches > the roof of the mouth. English doesn't have any of these. > > "Palatal" consonants like j are pronounced with the body of the tongue flat > against the roof of the mouth (in the case of j, not all the way, > because it's only an approximant). > > "Velar" consonants like k and g are pronounced by pushing the back of > the tongue against the back of the roof of the mouth, close to the > throat. > > "Uvular" consonants are like velars only even further back, almost like > choking. > > In "pharyngeal" and "glottal" consonants the closure is made in the throat > rather than the mouth, either at the vocal cords ("pharyngeal") or in > the throat itself ("glottal"). > > The distinction between pairs of consonants within the same cell of the > chart is between "voiced" and "non-voiced". In voiced consonants like > b, d, v, g, z, the vocal cords vibrate when they're pronounced, like a > tiny hum, whereas in unvoiced consonants like p, t, f, k, and s, they > don't. > > Sometimes pairs of distinctions go hand-in-hand; for instance, in English, > voiced consonants are more "lax" than their voiceless counterparts; the > muscles of the mouth are not as tense as they are for the voiceless > versions (which are in fact called "tense"). In fact, this difference > is more pronounced than the voiced/voiceless distinction in English, > which is why people can tell the difference between t and d even when > the speaker is whispering. There are diacritics that represent this > explicitly, but since the voice distinction goes along with it, there's > no need to complicate the notation for English unless extreme precision > is required for a given application. > > -Mark >