Update: 2020-12-03 05:20 PM -0500


Burmese Grammar 1899

Classification of Consonants according to vocal organs


- Burmese Grammar and Grammatical Analysis by A. W. Lonsdale, Education Department, Burma, British Burma Press, Rangoon, 1899. A photocopy of the ink-on-paper book , and downloaded PDF copies are available in the TIL Research Station, in Yangon. 

Copied and edited by UKT and staff of TIL . Not for sale. No copyright. Free for everyone. Prepared for students and staff of TIL Research Station, Yangon, MYANMAR :  http://www.tuninst.net , www.romabama.blogspot.com

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UKT 191125: Never forget that Aksharas are syllables, whereas Consonantal-Letters are mute. What the IPA is describing are the Letters of the consonants, which have no sound. There are many Akshara-Syllables which are "unheard" by the Westerners, e.g. {gna.}/ {ng} (r1c5), {Ta.}/ {T} (r3c1).

When Western phoneticians, who are stuck with Alphabet-Letters, want to give the pronunciation of the consonantal-letters they have to add vowel {a.} to their letter, e.g. to give the pronunciation of /t/ they give {a.ta.} /ata/. Those at the Research Station can watch Basic Segments of Speech Sound, by J. Handke in TIL HD-VIDEO and SD-VIDEO in Phonetics section
- PHO106-Conson<> / Bkp<> (link chk 201119)

Chapter 02
Foreword - by UKT
  Classification of Consonants {by: ak~hka.ra} according to POA
  Velar Guttural Palatal
  Retroflex Lingual
  Dental Labial  

UKT 201119: Lonsdale use of the word "throat" is not quite what we take it to mean at the present.
"When the larynx grows larger during puberty, it sticks out at the front of the throat. This is what's called an Adam's apple. Everyone's larynx grows during puberty, but a girl's larynx doesn't grow as much as a boy's does. That's why boys have Adam's apples." - Google-search
See: https://kidshealth.org/en/kids/adams-apple.html 201120
Lonsdale was under the impression that the throat (area behind Adam's apple) was the area responsible for Velar-letters. Phoneticians could not directly look into the throat until recent times - of surgery of throat and nearby areas due to cancer. See Section 02
Human sound production - human-snd.htm (link chk 201025) 

--- old material

Author's footnotes

UKT notes 
Difference between Stops and Nasals
  Deep-H Stops Tenuis consonants
In search of Nya-major
Vowels - by UKT

Vowels in Practical Phonetics

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Chapter 02
Classification of Consonants according to the Vocal organs



by UKT 201119:

There is a world of difference between sound {an} and script {ar:} especially in non-phonetic languages such as English. However in phonetic languages like Bur-Myan, where there is almost one-to-one correspondence, there is no difference between sound and script. However, for convenience sake, we'll adopt Lonsdale term "letter" in this work.  There are also differences between Lonsdale and TIL, e.g. :

Bur-Myan Velar-stop: ---- {ka.} to {gna.} is called the - {ka. wag~ga.} ka wegga;
Bur-Myan Palatal-stop: -- {sa.} to {a.}, the - {sa. wag~ga.} sa wegga; and so on.
Skt-Dev Palatal-affricate: ca to a, the ca wegga ]

s013. The Consonants {by:} are further classified on quite a different plan from that explained in par. 12 [see (s012-p005) of Chapter01] The classification is based upon the various parts of the mouth by which the sounds are produced [POA - Place of Articulation]. The organs brought into play for this purpose are the throat soft-palate (Velum), roof-of-the-mouth hard-palate (Palate), the tongue [divided into 3 parts: tip, body, root], the teeth, and the lips. [UKT ]

Thus, there are:
 Velars Gutterals {kN~HTa.za.}-letters (fn007-01);
 Palatals {ta-lu.za.}-letters ( fn007-02);
 Retroflex Linguals or Celebrals {moad~Da.za.}-letters (fn007-03);
 Dentals {dn~ta.za.}-letters 4 (fn007-04);
 Labials {AUT~Hta.za.}-letters 5 . (fn007-05)
Each of the classes into which the letters are divided is called {HTaan} "place".

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Stops or Plosives

s014. The letters are distributed into different classes mentioned above as follows: -

Velar Gutteral {kN~HTa.za. HTaan} - {ka.}, {hka.}, {ga.}, {Ga.}, and {gna.}/ {ng} or the - ka-wagga or ka-group, and {ha.} of the awagga series. With these are included the vowels {a.} and {a}. (p007end-p008begin)

UKT 201120: Notice that the tongue-tip is lowered or retracted: it is not taking any part. It is the tongue-body touching the Velar or soft-palate region of the roof-of-the-mouth. The POA (Place of Articulation) is Velar. If the tongue-body had reached further back it would be called Uvular. In Bur-Myan and possibly Eng-Lat, Uvular can only be achieved when coupled with lip-rounding as in {kwa.}, {hkwa.}, {gwa.}, and {gnwa.}.
Before we go further, let's see my understanding of Consonants of IPA, Bur-Myan, and Skt-Dev, in my notes: Consonants


Palatal {ta-lu.za. HTaan} - {sa.}, {hsa.}, {za.}, {Za.}, and {a.}/ {} of the - sa-wagga or sa-group, and {ya.} of the awagga series. The vowels {I.} and {I} are classed with these.

UKT 201120: Palatals are confusing because in Bur-Myan, and Pali-Myan, they are stops, whereas in Eng-Lat, Mon-Myan, and Skt-Dev, they are affricates . Notice how the tongue-tip is touching the bottom of the lower front teeth. It could be described as Lower-dental. The word Palatal comes from the tongue-body touching the palatal-region of the roof of the mouth. Palatal-Affricates are not basic aksharas in Bur-Myan: they are conjuncts and break down under Virama {at}: (equiv. in Eng-Lat: for r2c1 - nil; for r2c2 - {hkya.} /c/; for r2c3 - {gya.} /j/
   Nya-major, an important phoneme in Bur-Myan is missing in all modern languages. I've taken the quest for searching Nya-major / {a.}/{} in other languages: see my note - In search of Nya-major

Retroflex Lingual  {moad~Da.za. HTaan} - {Ta.}, {HTa.}, {a.}, {a.} and {Na.}/ {N} of the - Ta-wagga or Ta-group, {ra.} and {La.} of the awagga series. [Lonsdale does not mention the associated vowels.]

UKT 160416, 201126:  UKT 160416: In rapid speech Retroflex and Dental consonants are pronounced alike. However, if you articulate carefully, they are distinguishable: /ta./, /ʰta./, /da./, /da./, /na./. Retroflex /na./ is known as Na-major  {Na.} 'big Na' and Dental /na./ is called Na-minor {na.} 'young na'. There are two forms of Na-minor: the "standing one" {na.} /n/ and the "sitting one" {na.} /na./. The shape of the sitting Na-minor always reminds me a Nag or {na.ga:}, which reminds me that the ancient \ Pagan citizens had been Nag {na.ga:} worshippers. 

What about vowels? Inclusion of vowels in other {HTaan} series by Lonsdale was a mistaken identification by Ancient phoneticians of the East. Not being able to see the inside of a throat, they had done their best.

Dental {dn~ta.za. HTaan} - {ta.}, {hta.}, {da.}, {Da.}, {na.}/ {n} of the - ta-wagga or ta-group, and {la.} and {a.} of the of the awagga series. [Lonsdale does not mention the associated vowels.]

Labial {AUT~Hta.za. HTaan} - {pa.}, {hpa.}, {ba.}, {Ba.}, {ma.}/ {m} of the - pa-wagga or pa-group, and  the vowels {U.} and  {U}.


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Nasals : c5-consonants

s015. The letters, [of column 5] {gna.}/ {ng}; {a.}/ {}; {Na.}/ {N}; {na.}/ {n}; and {ma.}/ {m}, are Nasals or nose-letters . [UKT ].

UKT201121: Notice how I've given the killed-aksharas which form the coda of the syllable of CV structure. Lonsdale has given only the onset part of the syllable. I've to include the coda because they do have an affect on the nuclear-vowel of the syllable. In the Alphabet-Letter system of CVC structure this effect is not present.

These [nasals] are already included in the above classification, but are called nasals because, when we pronounce them, we not only commence their sounds with the organs chiefly employed in forming them, but also allow our voice to issue through the nose instead of confining it within the mouth. The Anuthwra explained in par.10 falls under this head. See (s010-p005) -- ch01.htm .

See my note on Difference between Stops and Nasals
Similar to the Nasals which occupy c5 column, the Deep-H Stops occupying the c4 column, i.e. {Ga.}, {Za.}, {a.}, {Da.}, {Ba.} also seems to form a group which deserve attention. The are not aspirates of column c3.


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s016. The vowels {} is both velar guttural and palatal; {AU} is velar guttural and labial.   The [awag-consonant] {wa.}/ {?} is dental and labial.]

UKT 201121: How should I represent {?} in Romabama is a problem. This ending is present in the name of a minority ethnic in Myanmarpr, {paO.} which has the same pronunciation as {pao.} without the killed-{wa.} . Moreover, at one time (in time of my father's generation) killed-{wa.} was common in words like {au} (with emphasis) as {auO}.

s017. The vowels {:} and {AU}, not being used in the Pli Language, are not included in the above arrangement; Burmese Grammarians, however consider {:} to be both velar guttural and palatal, and {AU} velar guttural and labial.

s018. The Burmese who have followed the Ngar system as introduced by the Pli grammarians, still keep to the classification exemplified in the foregoing paragraphs, and devised no other.

(p009) A very simple method of distinguishing the Bur-Myan consonantal sounds would be to divide the letters into Surds, Sonants and Liquids, (Lonsdale p009), thus:


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Author's footnotes 

fn007-01 Pli,  {kN~HTa.} 'the velum throat'; {za.} 'to produce' [UKT: 'origin']. fn007-01b
   see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soft_palate 201119
fn007-02 Pli,  {ta-lu.} 'the palate'. fn007-02b
fn007-03 Pli,  {moad~Da} 'the head'.  Lonsdale himself comments " 'Cerebral' is the old English designation incorrectly used for {moad~Da.za}. It is not a suitable term for it means 'brain letter' whereas {moad~Da.za}, although it signifies 'produced in the head '. It  is used to denote a letter pronounced by bringing the tip of tongue backward and upward nearly to the middle of the palate. 'Cerebral' is now superseded by the more appropriate term 'Lingual'." fn007-03b 
fn007-04 Pli, {dn~ta.} 'the teeth' fn007-04b
fn007-05 Pli, {AUT~HTa.} 'the lip'. [UKT: notice the horizontal conjunct: ] fn007-05b


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----- old material

A very simple method of distinguishing the Burmese consonantal sounds would be to divide the Aksharas letters into Surds, Sonants and Liquids (fn009-01), thus: -

fn009-01 Surd means 'noiseless'; Sonant 'sounding'; Liquid 'flowing'. For a full explanation of these terms, see Mason's English Grammar, pars. 13 and 15. fn009-01b

(s018end-p009end) - the next page is Chapter III.

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UKT notes


- UKT 201126

The most active articulator is the tongue, followed by the uvular flap and the lips. Movement of the jaw can also affect the pronunciation. The inactive articulators are parts of the roof of the mouth from the hard palate to the upper teeth.
Vowel diagrams of Daniel Jones, and I. Catford
  Those at the Research Station can watch Basic Segments of Speech Sound, by J. Handke in TIL HD-VIDEO and SD-VIDEO in Phonetics section
- PHO107-Vowels1<> / Bkp<> (link chk 191125)

Go back Articulators-note-b

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- UKT 201120:

Let's see what our present understanding is. In the Table of IPA (Pulmonic) consonants presented together with Bur-Myan and Skt-Dev, you'll see the {HTaan}, from Bilabial {AUT~Hta.za.} to Velar {kN~HTa.za.}.

Now, under the column {kN~HTa.za.}, you'll see {ka.} and {ga.} in the row Plosive-stop or simply Stop. You'll note {hka.} and {Ga.} missing because of the failure of IPA phoneticians being deaf to our c2 and c4 phonemes as pointed out in (s008-p004) of Chapter 01 - ch01.htm.

In the row Nasal, you'll see {gna.}/ {ng} with the IPA /ŋ/.

Further, down in the row Approximant, you'll see {ya.} - not {ha.} as given by Lonsdale.  This confusion has come about because Bur-Myan stop phoneme Nya-major {a.}/ {} has disappeared from other modern languages. What is now known is Nya-minor {a.}/ {}. It is probable that this affricate phoneme had been added to Bur-Myan and other Tib-Bur languages at the turn of Bronze-age to Iron-age when the IE speakers infiltrated into our areas.

Go back conson-note-b

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Difference between Stops and Nasals

UKT 201121:

The chief difference between regular stops, c1, c2, c3, and nasals c5, are the nasals having three tones, e.g. {na.} (1 eye-blink), {na} (2 blnk), and {na:} (emphatic 2 blnk or 3 blnk). In this they resemble the vowels, {a.}, {a}, {a:} .

I cannot wholly agree with the traditional make-up of the nasals, because:

Firstly, {gna.}/ {ng} of r1c5, has the sound of /g/ more than /n/ when used in the onset-position of the syllable of CV structure. Here, I must point that both Pal-Myan and Skt-Dev do not have words with r1c5 in the onset position. However, both Npali and Nwari languages of the country of Npal have such words showing the similarity of these languages to Bur-Myan.    The pronunciation of Bur-Myan words such as {gna:} "fish" and {gnak} "bird" has more of /g/ than /n/ in the beginning of the syllable. Incidentally, English also has such words in gnome, and gnaw which have lost the g sounds - saying that the g is silent.

Secondly, the Bur-Myan akshara matrix-cell r2c5, is traditionally occupied by Nya'major {a.}/ {}. It is a Palatal-stop. However, when Eng-Lat and Skt-Dev come in the cell ceases to be Palatal-stop and becomes Palatal-affricate. It is then occupied by Nya'minor {a.}/ {}.

The r1c5 {gna.}/ {ng}, and r2c5 {a.}/ {} are the Semi-nasals, because the onsets are non-nasals and the codas are nasals. The r4c5 {na.}/ {n} and r5c5 are the True-nasals because in both the onset- and coda-positions, they are nasals. The r3c5 {Na.}/ {N} is just in-between.

Go back Diff-Stops-Nasals-note-b

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Deep-H consonants: c4-consonants

-- UKT 130907, 160418

The c4 consonants are the occupants of column #4 in the akshara 5x5 matrix of 25 plosive-stop consonants: {Ga.}, {Za.}, {a.}, {Da.}, {Ba.}. The akshara 5x5 matrix of 25 plosive-stop consonants form a section of matrix known as the {wag~ga.}-consonants.

They show a unique manner of articulation (MOA) in Bur-Myan and Pal-Myan. As my knowledge of Skt-Dev is meagre, and that of Mon-Myan is almost zero, I cannot say for certain what their manners of articulation are.

The 5X5 akshara consonant matrix are arranged row-wise according to place of articulation (POA), and column-wise according to MOA. Beginning from the interior, they are arranged: c5 nasals, c4 deep-H, c3 voiced (vd), c2 voiceless (vl) and c1 tenuis.

The Western phoneticians, and their IPA (International Phonetic Association) recognize only 3 columns: nasals (corresponding to c5), voiced (vd) (corresponding to c3), and voiceless (vl) (corresponding to c2 which they mix up with c1). They did not pay much attention to c4 and c2, and dismissed them just by calling them aspirates. Even then what they are saying as correspondents of c1 are actually c2. Because of this failure of IPA (the Association and the Alphabet), I have to devise my own system of Romabama to serve the needs of the Asian languages such as Skt-Dev and Bur-Myan, and use IPA to relate them to Eng-Lat.

The r1c4 phoneme of velar-consonants is given in Bur-Myan as {Ga.} with IPA /gʰ/. To study this we need to look into Bur-Myan {nga.}, which according to J. M. Haswell, who have studied the Mon-Myan language - MonMyan-indx.htm (link chk 160418),  {nga.} has the sound of English <gn> in the onsets, and <ng> in the codas.

The c4 consonants are never used to check the vowel {a.}, and so even when Macdonell has given {a.Ga.} अघ as [agh-], it should not be pronounced as as such but only as /a.gʰa/ in Pal-Myan, with a recognizable /a/ showing that the word is a negation. I emphasize the fact that my knowledge of Skt-Dev is very elementary and that I cannot pass judgment of Sanskrit sound.

In my ongoing study, I find only the entries for {a.Ga.} अघ. Similar files of r2-palatals and r3-retroflex are empty. I still have to study more of r4-dentals and r5-labials.

Go back deep-H-note-b

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Tenuis consonants: c1-consonants

- UKT 160417

Another column of importance in Bur-Myan are Tenuis Consonants of column c1. They are not understood by the Westerners who are used to only Alphabet-Letter system of writing. They are voiceless (vl), but "tenuous" : {ka.}, {sa.}, {Ta.}, {ta.}, {pa.}.

English speakers (based on my own experience in USA and Canada), do not "hear" them and consequently can not reproduce them. What they could hear and reproduce in place of Tenuis are ordinary voiceless (vl}: {hka.}, {hsa.}, {HTa.}, {hta.}, {hpa.}. However, they do hear and reproduce them, when the Tenuis are preceded by {Sa.}/ {S} - a phoneme not present in Bur-Myan, e.g. {Ska.}, {Sta.}, {Spa.}

Tenuis consonants are important in Bur-Myan, because they can become coda of syllables as killed consonants: {k}, {c}, {T}, {t}, {p}. As an example, they can check:
- inherent-vowel {a.} of {ta.} giving {tak}, {tic}, {tT}, {tt}, {tp}. Notice the influence of coda on the nuclear-vowel of the resulting syllable. In every case they give only one register.

Nasals are similar to the Tenuis consonants when they become the coda of the syllables, except that they give three registers.

Go back tenuis-note-b

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In search of Nya-major

UKT 191109:

Though r2c5 is traditionally given in Bur-Myan and Mon-Myan as Nya-major {a.}/ {}, we must accommodate Nya-minor  / {a.}/{} for Pali-Myan.

At least for BEPS, I've moved Nya-major {a.}/ {} out of r2c5, leaving / {a.}/{} as the sole occupant of r2c5. Nya-major / {a.}/{} now placed as a palatal-approximant by the side of / {ya.}/{} which is re-designated as velar-approx. In Bur-Myan, we have an important secondary articulation known as {ya.pn.} perpetrated by / {ya.}{} which I equate to velarization. Is there an equivalent for / {a.}/{}? Before I could find an answer an interesting fact has come to my notice in Icelandic language.

I've a casual interest in Iceland, due to my former room-mate and close friend Dr. John A. Mattor from US who was stationed in Iceland for a couple years before he became my room-mate. He was there as a US serviceman for a couple years in the 1950s. He has told me that Icelandic language is quite different from English.
See: BEPS01-2.htm on Assignment of Speech sounds to Phonemes from:
- Wiki: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phoneme 191113
"In some languages, h owever, [kʰ] {hk} and [k] are perceived by native speakers as different sounds, and substituting one for the other can change the meaning of a word. In those languages, therefore, the two sounds represent different phonemes. For example, in Icelandic, [kʰ] is the first sound of ktur, meaning "cheerful", but [k] is the first sound of gtur, meaning "riddles". Icelandic, therefore, has two separate phonemes /kʰ/ and /k/. "
Now note that in Bur-Myan, [kʰ] {hk} and [k] are perceived as different phonemes. Notice also the presence of phones in Palatal, Velar, and Glottal regions: k , kʰ , ŋ , ɲ .

UKT 191120: In Bur-Myan and Mon-Myan, the approximants of these three regions give rise to secondary articulation known in Bur-Myan as {a.hsw:}*, {ya.pn.}, and {ha.hto:}. These I equate to Palatalization, Velarization, and Glotallization. Whether I can substantiate my claim is still an open question. See Wikipedia:
- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palatalization 191120
- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Velarization 191120
- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glottalization 191120
* {a.hsw:} is found in Mon-Myan. In Mon, the hanging consonant is Nya-major, whereas its equivalent in Sanskrit is Nya-minor.

In describing the aksharas, it is not enough to describe them as onset only. It is acceptable in Alphabet-Letter system with the syllable CVC structure. But in Abugida-Akshara system with the syllable CV structure, the coda is equally important. For look-alike syllables:
- with palatal-plosive tenuis, / {sa.}/{c}, we have {sic}
- with dental-fricative / {Sa.}/{S}, we have {SiS} 

Go back Insearch-Nya-major-note-b

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The Vowels - UKT

UKT 160418: This section is my presentation.


- UKT 160417:

The vowels are continuous sounds formed inside the larynx or voice box. They are modified by the tongue inside the mouth. Until the development of fiber-optic laryngoscopy, the full involvement of the larynx during speech production was not observable. However, the role of the tongue has been studied by phoneticians such as Daniels Jones early in the 20th century. [Note only after A. W. Lonsdale had written the Burmese Grammar and Grammatical Analysis - which we are studying.] In the production of the vowels, as you move along from {a} to {au} (note: I am taking the modal pitch-register only), the tongue body is changing its position according to the red ellipse shown in the figure on the left.

The Vowel diagrams
of Daniel Jones and I. Catford

To describe the red ellipse better, it is drawn in the form of a quadrilateral by Daniels Jones. The figure on the right is based on the vowel quadrilateral of Daniel Jones in which I have shown the Burmese-Myanmar vowels. However, there are other vowel diagrams, as the one by Catford (1977) reproduced by J. Laver in the Principle of Phonetics, which is in TIL collection.

   See: Teaching Vowels in Practical Phonetics: The Auditory or Articulatory Route? by Martin J. Ball, University of Ulster, http://www.phon.ucl.ac.uk/home/johnm/ball.htm 081028 - no longer available.
See the full article in my notes: Vowels in Practical Phonetics.

You will notice that Lonsdale has included {I.} and {I} as the vowels articulated in the Palatal position. This is in agreement with Catford. It should be pointed out that the present practice is to describe the vowels separately from the POA of consonants.

Go back Vowels-note-b

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UKT: Wikipedia does not list suprasegmental -- 080315. However, it does say something about it in Prosody (linguistics) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suprasegmental 080318
Notice that Romabama uses IPA suprasegmentals for IPA transcriptions. Click to see what IPA has given. Or, to see the complete IPA tabl e go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Phonetic_Alphabet 080317

From Wikipedia

The prosodic domain
Prosodic features are suprasegmental in that they are not confined to any one segment; rather, they occur in a hierarchy of higher levels of an utterance. These prosodic units are the actual phonetic spurts or chunks of speech. They do not in general correspond to grammatical units such as phrases, and clauses, though they may, and both may reflect how the brain processes speech.

Prosodic units are characterized by several phonetic cues, such as a coherent pitch contour, and the gradual decline in pitch and lengthening of vowels over the duration of the unit, until the pitch and speed are reset to begin the next unit. Breathing, both inhalation and exhalation, only seems to occur at these boundaries where the prosody resets.

UKT: Only some suprasegmentals are of interest to Romabama, e.g. {a.} /ă/; {a} /a/; {a:} /aː/.

Go back supraseg-note-b

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Vowels in Practical Phonetics

by Martin J. Ball, Teaching Vowels in Practical Phonetics: The Auditory or Articulatory Route? . University of Ulster. http://www.phon.ucl.ac.uk/home/johnm/ball.htm 081028
UKT: I haven't taken the figures given by M. J. Ball since they are essentially the same as those already on this file.

Vowel description has traditionally differed from consonant description. This means that teaching the production of vowels and consonants in practical phonetics requires different techniques. Unfortunately, this means that students have to master both approaches to their studies.

Consonants are described and classified according to their production: manner of articulation (e.g. stop, fricative); place of articulation (e.g. alveolar, palatal, velar, uvular); and voicing. Students, therefore, can use these labels to aid in learning the articulation of consonants.

The Vowel Area and Cardinal Vowels :

In the most recent revision of the International Phonetic Alphabet (1993), the vowel diagram was re-arranged (see Figure 1)[UKT: essentially the same as the one I have redrawn by UCLA given on the right.]. All unrounded vowels are displayed on the left of each point. All rounded vowels are displayed on the right. A full set of central vowels is provided, and symbols for lax vowels are added to the diagram.

Vowel Area and Cardinal Vowels:
The vowel quadrilateral is, in fact, quite divergent from the actual shape of the vowel area (see Figure 2) [UKT: essentially the same as the one on the left.]. Catford (1977), among others, has suggested a diagram closer to physical reality could be adopted. This could allow articulatory descriptions of vowels, similar to those used for consonants. In order to produce a diagram closer to the vowel area, the angled corners of the Cardinal Vowel diagram need to be abandoned, and a chart nearer to the ellipse shape in Figure 2 created.

An Articulatory System
Vowels are the next most open articulation type after approximants and fricatives. This means that close vowels can easily be linked to the palatal, velar, uvular and pharyngeal places of articulation. Students learn their production by moving the tongue slightly between consonantal and vocalic versions at each place.

An articulatory system follows the vowel area more closely, and this means that [i, i, u, o, a, a] are all located on the upper periphery. Other vowels are labelled as being close-mid, open-mid or open in relation to one of the places of articulation. Due to the shape of the diagram, the lower left corner vowel [a] is both an open palatal and an open pharyngeal vowel.

Advantages and Disadvantages to an Articulatory System
Only one set of articulatory labels need to be learnt, and the same method of learning sound production can be applied to consonants and vowels. Further, the vowel diagram is closer to the vowel area.

However, only production of the upper periphery vowels is easy to learn, as it is unclear how one learns the values of close-mid, open-mid and open. An articulatory system aids learning vowel production, but not description: description of both consonants and vowels is an auditory task - as is using Cardinal Vowels.

Phonologically, three-vowel systems ([i, a, ul) plot better on the CV system, as they appear clearly as 'extreme' vowels. Languages having high, mid, and low vowel phonologies group their vowels as in the CV system rather Um the polar co-ordinate system. Also it is difficult to arrange central vowels on the polar co-ordinate diagram, and show their relation to peripheral vowels.

Catford (1977) points out reasons why the CV system appears more natural: if we plot vowels acoustically (FI by F2), the resultant diagram closely resembles the CV chart. He also notes that the muscle systems used to move the tongue within the vowel area give us proprioceptive feedback that high versus low, and front versus back are natural classes: as shown in CV diagrams.

An articulatory system certainly could make the learning of vowel production easier. The system also brings consistency between vowels and consonants. However, it does not help in vowel description; and has phonological problems. It is doubtful, therefore, whether a switch in teaching vowels in practical phonetics is warranted.

References (cited by M.J. Ball)
Catford, I. (1977) Fundamental Problems in Phonetics. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
IPA (1993) Council actions on the revisions of the IPA. Journal of the International Phonetic Association, 23, 32-34.

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