Glossary of Pronunciation Terms

30 Apr

There is a host of terms and jargon used when speaking about pronunciation. Many teacher training courses require a thorough knowledge of these concepts and terms. Here is a glossary giving descriptions and explanations of the most common terminology used in this field of study.

affricate plosive followed immediately by a fricative
allophone variations on a phoneme
alveolar tip or blade of tongue against the gum just behind the upper teeth
articulation of a plosive Approach- as the articulating organs come together, hold-as they stay together, release-as the separate and allow the blocked air to escape
aspiration The release of a plosive not immediately followed by voicing for a vowel, a voiceless escape of breath (example voiceless plosives as in p, t, k)
assimilation variances in phonemic pronunciation in connected speech
d followed by p, b or m is bilabial assimilation followed k or g is velar assimilation also t and n are possible assimilants as they are alveolar (known as de-alveolar assimilation)
back tongue in back of mouth for articulation
bilabial lips pressed together
blade front line of tongue
centre tongue in central part of the mouth for articulation
centering dipthongs dipthong with vowel sound made by opening
clear L used before vowels and j
close vowel sound with tongue close to palate
closing dipthongs dipthong with second vowel phoneme made by closure
clusters groups of consonants, when preceding consonant is voiceless, the whole cluster is usually voiceless, and vice versa
coalescence assimilation that eliminates phonemes
complementary Distribution The differences in allophones for any given phoneme which are predictable (such as k being different based on the placement of the vowel)
contextual elision elided and unelided forms both can be heard example last month in colloquial speech
contrastiveness Two phonemes are contrastive by listing minimal pairs distinguished by the contrast being illustrated
dark l used before consonants and before w and before a pause
dental using the tongue against teeth
devoicing after voiceless plosives voiced consonants become devoiced
egressive outward direction of air
ejective consonant consonant using egressive pharyngeal air stream
elision when a phoneme is dropped in pronunciation as in Christmas, and listen
fall high fall and low fall marked by asterisk respectively at top or bottom
fortis plosives, affricates and fricatives strong articulation
free Variation Choice between allophones is free in certain contexts without any apparent system
fricative narrowing of passage above tongue
front tongue in highest part of the mouth for articulation
glottal plosive vocal folds blocking the passage of air, also glottal stop
glottis space between the vocal folds
historical elision dropped historically no question of inclusion Christmas, listen
homophone word pronounced the same but spelled differently
implosive ingressive pharyngeal air-stream
ingressive direction of air movement inwards
inter-vocalic consonant between vowels
labialization lip rounding occurring at the same time as some other more important articulation
labio-dental lower lip with upper teeth
lateral blockage on the side
lateral Approach from l phoneme sides of tongue have to rise to block air for the plosive
lateral Release with l phoneme sides of tongue must drop to produce l after plosive
lenis plosives, affricates and fricatives weak articulation
lip-rounding lips playing a role in producing certain vowels and other sounds
manner way of articulation
nasal evident, lowered soft palate to allow air through
nasal approach with plosives an approach consists solely in the rising of the soft palate
nasal release with plosives when the release consists solely in the movement of the soft palate
non-Audible Release When the release of the first plosive in an overlapping plosive sequence is not audible as it is masked by the second closure
open vowel sound with tongue farther away from palate
oral egressive reverse click
oral ingressive air flowing inwards from the mouth, click
ordinary approach tongue tip rises to produce plosive
ordinary approach/release Since the opposite of nasal is ORAl and the opposite of lateral is MEDIAN, the “ordinary” approach/release, characterizing for example the d in eddy is properly termed MEDIAL ORAL (This stuff is great!)😉
overlapping plosive consonants In a sequence of plosives with different places of articulation (grabbed it), release of first plosive articulation does not occur until after the approach phase of the second
pharyngeal air set in motion holding the vocal folds together and using air above
pharyngeal eggressive ejective
pharyngeal ingressive implosive
place place of articulation
plosive complete blocking of the air-stream
plosive sound in which air-stream is entirely blocked for a short time, p,b,t,d,k,g
plosive theory with plosives described in a chart as first part of >-< scheme > being approach – being hold and < being release
pulmonic air set in motion in the lungs
pulmonic egressive egressive pronunciation from the lungs, ordinary speech
pulmonic ingressive in-breathing speech
quality Differing positions of the body of the tongue
rise high rise or low rise marked by asterisk respectively at top or bottom
rise followed by unstressed syllables The rise is spread out over the whole
roll or trill rapid series of closures and openings
RP Received Pronunciation or SBS
SBS Southern British Standard or Received Pronunciation
secondary articulation a secondary occurrence such as labialization, palatalization, velarization accompanying a more important primary articulation
soft palate valve that controls the entry of air from the throat (pharynx) into the nose
stressed given accent
strong form see weak form
syllabic consonants sounds which are rather longer than usual and have syllable making function like vowels, examples: ‘-l’ and ‘-n’
tip tip of tongue
unstressed without accent
velar raised back of tongue against soft palate
vocal Folds in the larynx, behind the adam’s apple
voiced vibrating glottis
voiced implosive voiced ingressive
voiceless glottis wide open, non-vibrating glottis
voicing voiced or voiceless
voicing diagram diagram showing when a word is voiced and unvoiced in its phonemes i.e. sit = |–|”””|–|
voicing, place, manner standard manner of expressing sound (i.e. voiced velar fricative)
weak form used with articles, prepositions etc. to differentiate from strong form with different phoneme
1 Comment

Posted by on April 30, 2011 in Pronunciation


One response to “Glossary of Pronunciation Terms

  1. Camila Garbarino

    May 15, 2011 at 8:42 pm

    Hi there, I ran into this webpage from reddit. It is not something I would regularly read, but I loved your perspective on it. Thanx for creating a piece worth reading!


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