By Peter Burleigh
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Extra resources for A Manual of English Phonetics and Phonology
If we now look at the consonant table, we can easily see that the HI in surf is a fortis labiodental fricative, as we have already learnt in Lesson Two, or that In/ is a lenis alveolar nasal, and Ixl a lenis postalveolar approximant. But the table reveals much more than that. It shows that sixteen consonant phonemes form pairs within which the only distinguishing feature is the intensity of the articulation. For example, Ipl and lb/ are both bilabial plosives, and the only difference between them is that Ipl is produced with fortis articulation, and lb/ with lenis articulation.
3) The shape of the lips can be either spread, neutral, or round. English does not u t i lise this contrast very much. As in most other languages, the spreading of the lips u s u ally correlates with frontness, and lip-rounding with backness. This means that t h e r e are n o t w o vowel phonemes in English that differ only in the shape of the lips. M a n y linguists therefore d o not regard this criterion as relevant in English. e. they are identical with r e spect to closeness/openness and frontness/backness.
Very few linguists also include the three n a s a l s , /m, n, n/, in this group because the nasals can, in certain phonetic environments, s o u n d continuously without audible friction. We have learnt that semi-vowels, or glides, encompass either all frictionless c o n tinuants or, more commonly, only / j , w/. Occasionally, /h/ is also put in this category. Finally, /l, r/ are sometimes referred to as liquids [from Latin liquidus, 'flowing^ clear'] because of their "flowing" sound quality. It is a traditional term that is not o f t e used anymore, and should best be avoided.