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Glossary of Pronunciation Terms

accentthe unique speech patterns of a person or group
affricatea speech sound (consonant) that contains a stop followed by an immediate fricative, as in the ch /ʧ/ in "chair"
air flow/airstream the flow or passage of air out of the mouth
alveolarsound formed by touching the tip of the tongue to the upper alveolar ridge, as in /t/ or /d/
alveolar ridgethe bony region at the roof and bottom of the mouth behind the front teeth; contains the tooth sockets
approximants consonants with a partial obstruction of airflow, as in /w/ and /r/
articulationthe act of making speech sounds
aspirationa small "explosion" of air when you make a sound
auditory hearing (not seeing)
bilabialconsonant sounds formed using both lips, as in /p/ or /b/
close vowel (sometimes called "high" vowel)a vowel sound that is pronounced with the tongue close to the roof of the mouth (but not close enough to constrict the air and make a consonant), as in /i:/ in the word "free"
consonant a speech sound made when there is complete or partial obstruction of air in the mouth, as in /v/, /h/, /d/ (compare vowel)
clustersblended sounds put together to make a single sound
curla position of the tongue where the tongue is shaped in a curve, not flat
dental a consonant sound made when the tongue touches the upper teeth, as in /t/ and /n/
dialectunique vocabulary, pronunciation and usage that is typical of a certain group of people
diphthonga sound made by the combination of two vowel sounds in a single syllable, as in "boy", "loud" or "wide", where the sound starts as one vowel and moves towards another vowel
flatten a positioning of the tongue where the tongue is flat not round
fricativea speech sound (consonant) in which air is forced to pass through a small opening and creates friction, as in /f/ and /v/
glide/slidemoving the tongue while saying a word
glottal stop the sound that is made when the vocal folds are closed very briefly; as in the middle of the word "uh-oh" (common in American English)
gumthe tissue around the base of the teeth
hard palatehard part of the roof of the mouth
intonation change in pitch of a sentence, up and down; the music or rhythm of speech
labiodentalsounds that are made with the lower lip and upper teeth, as in /f/ and /v/
larynxthe hollow, muscular organ in the throat that holds the vocal chords; the voice box
lateral a speech sound that is made by touching the tongue to the middle of the alveolar ridge, allowing air to pass on both sides
lengthen soundmake the duration of the sound longer
linkingthe joining of words when speaking, as in "Ca-nI-ha-va-bi-to-fegg?" (Can I have a bit of egg?)
lips spread lips are open slightly and pulled back
lowerbottom of mouth
minimal pairstwo words that differ only in terms of one sound, as in "cat and bat" OR "fine and vine"
monophthonga single vowel sound that does not change in auditory quality; also called a "pure vowel"
nasal consonantsconsonant sounds made by pushing air through the nose, as in /m/, /n/ and /ŋ/
non-pulmonicwhen the air comes from a source other than the lungs
obstructiona blockage of air flow
open vowel (also called "low" vowel)a vowel that is produced with the tongue far down from the roof of the mouth, as in the /a:/ sound in "far"
palatala sound that is made when the tongue is near or touching the roof of the mouth
palatethe roof of the mouth
phonemean individual speech sound
phonetic alphabetan alphabet that represents the sounds of speech
phonetic transcriptiona form of notation that uses symbols to identify the individual sounds (phonemes) in a word
plosivea consonant sound produced when there is a complete obstruction of air followed by its sudden release, as in the /p/ of "pot"
pitchamount of highness or lowness of a sound or speech
postalveolara consonant sound made with the tip of the tongue slightly back from the alveolar ridge, as in /ʃ/ in "shut"
pressed lipstop and bottom lips touching
protruded lipsrounded lips, pushed out
pulmonica sound that is made using the airstream directly from the lungs
raisedhigher than the neutral position
reductionthe natural shortening of sounds when speaking (e.g. "going to" reduced to "gonna")
rhotica variety or dialect of English in which "r" is pronounced before a consonant (as in "hard") and at the end of words (as in "car"); Midwestern American English, for example, is "rhotic"
roofthe inside top part of the mouth
rounded lipslips formed into the shape of a circle
rounded vowela vowel made with rounded lips
sentence stressthe placement of emphasis on specific words within a sentence or phrase
shorten soundmake the duration of a sound shorter
soft palatesoft part of the roof of the mouth
sonorantsounds that are made when air is impeded only slightly, as in /m/, /n/
stop (stop consonant)a consonant sound that is produced when the airflow is (temporarily) stopped entirely by the lips or tongue, as in /p/
syllablea single unit of sound that creates one beat in a word; the word "coffee" has two syllables (cof-fee)
syllable nucleusthe central part of a syllable, usually a vowel
taptouch quickly
tonethe emotion that is conveyed through the sound of speech (e.g. anger or sadness)
tonguemuscular tissue in the mouth used for tasting and articulating
tooth ridgethe hard area directly behind the top front teeth
trilla vibrating sound made with a flapping tongue, as in the rolled "r" sound made when people roll their r's
uppertop of mouth
velarof a sound that is made with the back of the tongue near the soft palate, as in the the /ŋ/ in "sing"
veluma soft membrane on the roof of the mouth (also called "soft palate")
vocal chords (AmE cords)two muscles inside the larynx that vibrate and create the voice
vocal tractthe entire apparatus that produces voice, starting in the lungs and ending at the lips and nostrils (openings of the mouth and nose)
voicedof a sound made with the vocal chords (voice box) vibrating
voiceless/unvoicedof a sound made without the vocal chords (voice box) vibrating
vowela speech sound made when air is free to pass through the mouth with little or no obstruction, as in sounds made with the letters a, e, i, o, u, and sometimes y (compare consonant)
vowel backnessposition of the tongue in relation to the back of the mouth when making a vowel sound (positions include front, near-front, centre, near-back, back)
vowel heightdistance between the tongue and the roof of the mouth when pronouncing a vowel sound (IPA has 7 heights: close (highest), near-close, mid-close, mid, open-mid, near-open, open (lowest)
word stressthe placement of emphasis within a word that has more than one syllable

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