When learning the distinct consonant phonemes of North American English (NAE), there are three main dimensions for which they can be distinguished: Voicing, Place of Articulation, and Manner of Articulation.
Place of Articulation refers to where the sound is made in the mouth. In NAE, there are seven places of articulation:
Manner of Articulation refers to how the sound is made. In NAE, there are six manners of articulation:
Table 1. The Classification of Consonant Sounds
|Manner of Articulation
|Place of Articulation
Simply refers to whether the vocal cords are vibrating and can be easily determined by gently placing the thumb and index finger around the throat (just about where the Adam’s apple is). If a sound is voiced, you will feel the vibration on your fingertips; if not, then it is not a voiced consonant sound.
Refers to where the sound is made in the mouth. In NAE, there are seven places of articulation: Bilabial, Labiodental, Dental, Alveolar, Palatal, Velar, and Glottal.
refers to how the sound is made. In NAE, there are six manners of articulation: Stop, Fricative, Affricate, Nasal, Liquid, and Glide.
Between the lips, in sounds like /m/ (Mom) or /p/ (Pop)
When the top teeth connect with the bottom lip, in sounds like /f/ (Fit) and /v/ (Vine)
Between the teeth, in sounds like /θ/ (Thick) or /ð/ (Then)
With the tongue tip on or near the top teeth, in sounds like /t/ (Top) or /z/ (Zap)
With the tongue blade (the part right behind the tip) or body near the roof of the mouth (or the hard palate), in sounds like /ʃ/ (Shop) or /dʒ/ (Gym)
With the tongue body on or near the back of the mouth’s roof (or the soft palate), in sounds like /g/ (Gap) or /ŋ/ (Sing)
Produced not so much in the mouth, but by air passing from the windpipe through the vocal cords, in the sound /h/ (Hi)
When the airflow is stopped or blocked completely before being released
Air is restricted by a narrow passage formed by various parts of the mouth and tongue, but is not completely stopped.
These sounds are made through the combination of a stop and a fricative. First, air pressure is built up, like in a stop, but rather than exploding out, the air flows through a narrow passage, like a fricative.
These sounds occur when the oral passage is closed and the air flows through the nasal cavity instead
The airflow moves relatively freely around the tongue