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UNIT 8

ENGLISH PHONOLOGICAL SYSTEM II. CONSONANTS. PHONETIC SYMBOLS.
COMPARING PHONOLOGICAL SYSTEMS: ENGLISH VS SPANISH, THE OFFICIAL
LANGUAGE OF MURCIA AUTONOMOUS COMMUNITY.
OUTLINE
1. INTRODUCTION.
1.1. Aims of the unit.
1.2. Notes on bibliography.
2. THE HISTORY AND SCOPE OF PRONUNCIATION TEACHING.
2.1. Pronunciation instruction in perspective.
2.2. A history of pronunciation teaching.
3. A THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK TO THE ENGLISH PHONOLOGICAL SYSTEM.
3.1. The nature of communication: main features.
3.1.1. Language as system: a duality of patterning.
3.1.2. Language as speech: the sounds of English.
3.2. Phonetics vs phonology: sounds vs phonemes.
3.3. The production of speech: a physiological aspect.
3.3.1. The speech chain: three main stages.
3.3.2. The speech mechanism: the speech organs.
3.4. Sound changes: modifications in the English consonants.
3.5. A standard of pronunciation: Received Pronunciation (RP).
4. ENGLISH CONSONANTS: PHONETIC SYMBOLS.
4.1. On defining English consonants.
4.2. A classification of English consonants.
4.2.1. Secondary features: aspiration and positional restrictions.
4.2.2. Voicing.
4.2.3. Place of articulation.
4.2.4. Manner of articulation.
5. A DESCRIPTION OF THE ENGLISH CONSONANT INVENTORY COMPARED TO THE
SPANISH CONSONANT SYSTEM.
5.1. English vs Spanish consonantal systems: main distinctive features.
5.2. English plosive consonants /p, t, k, b, d, g/.
5.2.1. Bilabial plosives /p, b/.
5.2.2. Alveolar plosives /t, d/.
5.2.3. Velar plosives /k, g/.
5.3. English fricative consonants /f, v, ?, d, s, z, ?, ∞, h/.
5.3.1. Labio-dental fricatives /f, v/.
5.3.2. Dental fricatives /?, d/.
5.3.3. Alveolar fricatives /s, z/.
5.3.4. Palato-alveolar fricatives / ?, ∞/.
5.3.5. Glottal fricative /h/.
5.4. English affricate consonants /t?, →, tr, dr/.
5.4.1. Palato-alveolar affricates / t?, →/.

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5.4.2. Post-alveolar affricates /tr, dr/.
5.5. English nasal consonants /m, n, ?/.
5.5.1. Bilabial nasal /m/ and alveolar nasal /n/.
5.5.2. Velar nasal /?/.
5.6. English lateral consonant /l/.
5.7. English post-alveolar consonant /r/.
5.8. English semi-consonants /j/ and /w/.
5.8.1. Unrounded palatal semi-consonant /j/.
5.8.2. Labio-velar semi-consonant /w/.
6. PRESENT-DAY DIRECTIONS IN PRONUNCIATION.
7. CONCLUSION.
8. BIBLIOGRAPHY.
9. FIGURES.

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1. INTRODUCTION.
1.1. Aims of the unit.
This study is aimed to serve as the core of a survey on pronunciation, and in particular on the
consonant system. Therefore, all sections which shall be reviewed in this unit are aimed to provide
the reader with the following: (1) a historical overview of the issues involved in teaching
pronunciation, such as how pronunciation has been viewed from various methodological
perspectives and what we know about the main methods in second language phonology; (2) a
thorough theoretical grounding in the English phonological system; (3) a theoretical insight into the
ways in which this sound system intersects with the consonant system (4) a description and
classification of English consonants in terms of articulatory features; (5) a comparison between the
English and the Spanish consonant systems; and (6) a framework for new directions on
pronunciation, and an evaluation of the consonant system within a current language curriculum
design in the framework of the European Community; (7) a conclusion on this present study will be
offered; (8) bibliography sha ll be fully listed, and finally (9), diagrams and charts regarding the
consonant system will be offered.
For our purposes in this unit, the introductory sections dealing with the nature of communication
and a definition of language will be examined and approached in phonological terms so as to
provide a relevant framework to the survey on pronunciation and on the consonant system.
Therefore, in the second part of this study, we provide a historical overview of how pronunciation
has been treated in language teaching offering the types of teaching approaches and techniques that
have been used. The third part surveys the main methods focusing on the acquisition of the sound
system of a second language. Together, these two chapters prepare the reader for the specific
descriptive and pedagogical information presented in Parts 4 and 5 of this study as well as the
approach to pedagogical considerations on future directions regarding the consonantal system in
Part 6.
1.2. Notes on bibliography.
Different valuable sources have been taken into account for the elaboration of this unit. Thus, in
Part 2, for a historical overview of the development of the phonological system, see Celce-Murcia,
Brinton and Goodwin, Teaching Pronunciation (2001); and Gimson, An introduction to the
pronunciation of English (1980). In part 3, for a theoretical background to the phonological system,
classic works on the origins and nature of communication and language are Algeo and Pyles, The
origins and development of the English language (1982); and Crystal, Linguistics (1985); on the
production of the speech chain and its features, see Gimson, An introduction to the pronunciation of
English (1980); and Celce-Murcia (2001).
In Parts 4 and 5, an influential description of the consonant system is offered again by Gimson
(1980), Alcaraz and Moody, Fonética inglesa para españoles (1982); and O’Connor, Better English
Pronunciation (1988). In part 6, among the many general works that incorporate recent
phonological advances and present-day directions in teaching pronunciation , see especially CelceMurcia (2001); and classic works by Gimson (1980) and O’Connor (1988). See also B.O.E. RD Nº
112/2002, by which Secondary Education and Bachillerato curricula are established in Murcia
Autonomous Community, and also some information about Sócrates projects on Education and
Culture in http://www.mec.es/sgpe/socrates/ccaa.htm. In part 7, a conclusion is offered, and in part

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9, charts and diagrams representin g the English and Spanish phonological systems, which have
been taken from different sources, such as Gimson (1980); Alcaraz (1982); and Celce-Murcia
(2001).

2. THE HISTORY AND SCOPE OF PRONUNCIATION TEACHING.
This part of our study is intended to provide a historical overview of how pronunciation has been
treated in language teaching over the past centuries, and in particular, the consonant system.
Therefore, we survey the different types of teaching approaches and techniques as well as the main
methods which have focused on the acquisition of the sound system of a second language. This
section shall prepare us for the specific descriptive information presented in parts 4 and 5 of this
study as well as the main findings regarding future directions discussed in part 6.
2.1. Pronunciation instruction in perspective.
In the history of language teaching, speech and language have been the object of serious study.
However, regarding the sound system, pronunciation only began to be studied systematically
shortly before the beginning of the twentieth century, and since then, two main general approaches
to pronunciation have been developed. First of all, an intuitive-imitative approach, based on the
learner’s ability to listen to and imitate the rhythms and sounds of the target language by means of
phonograph records earlier, and more recently audio- and videocassettes and compact discs.
Secondly, an analytic -linguistic approach, which also focuses attention on the sounds and rhythms
of the target language, but this time with tools such as a phonetic alphabets, articulatory
descriptions, charts of the vocal apparatus, contrastive information, and other aids to supplement
listening, imitation, and production. In fact, it was developed to complement rather than to replace
the intuitive -imitative approach. Consequently, in the following overview we shall focus on those
methods and approaches for which the teaching and learning of pronunciation has been a genuine
concern from earlier times to the present day.
2.2. A history of pronunciation teaching.
The earliest written evidence on phonetic principles extend back for at least two thousand years
when Indian grammarians produced rigorous printed works containing information of a phonetic
kind with descriptive accounts, and the most striking fact is that they reveal remarkable affinities
with modern ways of thought (Gimson 1980). We note that this emphasis on pronunciation
emerges from an oral tradition in ancient India around the fifth century B.C. when the Hindu priests
needed to reproduce accurately the original pronunciation of the hymns used for their religious
ceremonies to be successful.
Later on, in the sixteenth century, there was an increasing concern at the inconsistency of the
relationship of Latin letters and the sounds which they represented, especially in English, since the
same spelling did service for several sounds. There was, then, a need for a spelling reform in order
to bring some order into English spelling.
Early spelling reformers proposed a more logical relationship between sound and spelling using
phonetic methods of analysis and transcription. Thus, the French grammarian, John Palsgrave wrote
about the pronunciation of French in his work Lesclarcissement de la Langue Francoyse (1530),
where he explained the values of the French sounds, comparing them with the English, in a kind of

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phonetic transcription. Besides, Thomas Smith, in his work De recta et emendata linguae anglicae
scriptione (1568), made pertinent phonetic comments on such matters as the aspiration of English
plosives and the syllabic nature of /n/ and /l/, as well as providing correct descriptions of the
articulation of consonants.
Yet, he, as a phonetician, was overshadowed by John Hart, whose most important work, the
Orthographie (1569) provides a revised system, which describes the organs of speech, defines
consonants, distinguishing between voiced and voiceless consonants, and notes the aspiration of
voiceless plosives. This system was followed at a phonetic level by Alexande r Gil in his work
Logonomia Anglica (1619), although his observations lacked the objectivity of Hart’s.
In the seventeenth century, a group of writers showed a considerable interest on speech, and
therefore, a great concern at detailed analysis of speech activity, the comparative study of the
sounds of various languages, the classification of sound types, and the establishment of systematic
relationships between the English sounds. These writers are considered to be the true precursors of
modern scientific phoneticians as their work is entirely phonetic in character and most of their
observations and theories still current today. Thus, John Wallis and Bishop Wilkins, were two of the
most celebrated phoneticians and also, Christopher Cooper is to be included as he is considered to
be the greatest English phonetician of the century.
Yet, the linguist John Wallis examined the sounds of English in his work Grammatica Linguae
Anglicanae (1653), by describing in detail the organs of speech, and by establishing a general
system of sound classification for consonants. Such a classification, despite errors and inadequacies
which are apparent today, represents a serious attempt aat the establishment of universal sound
categories.
Also, Bishop John Wilkins attempted, in his work Essay Towards a Real Character and a
Philosophical Language (1668), to create a universal language, expressed by means of ‘marks,
which should signifie things, and not words.’ He proposes ‘thirty -four letters for his alphabet to
express all those articulate sounds which are commonly known.’ This work also describes the
functions of speech organs and gives a general classification of the sounds articulated by them,
although his treatment of consonants is far more satisfactory than that of Wallis.
Finally, Christopher Cooper attempted to describe and give rules for the pronunciation of English
rather than to devise a logical system into which the sounds of English might be fitted. In his work
The Discovery of the Art of Teaching and Learning the English Tongue (1687), he states ‘The
Principles of Speech’ and gives rules for the relation of spelling and pronunciation in different
contexts. Furthermore, he describes the organs of speech and names those sections of the upper
speech tract which are mainly responsible for the articulation of the ‘breath’. He defines consonants
as those sounds in which the air-stream is intercepted in the production of speech.
By the eighteenth century, the spirit of general scientific enquiry into speech lost much of its
original enthusiasm. The neglect is due to the fact that it is extremely difficult to study speech
without some mechanical aids to make the speech permanent, and therefore more precisely
analysable (Crystal 1985). Yet, the main achievement of the century lies in its successful attempt to
fix the spelling and pronunciation of the language by means of dictionaries, which provided us
with information concerning the contemporary forms of pronunciation. In fact, the Dictionaries of
Samuel Johnson (1755), Thomas Sheridan (1780), and John Walker (1791) led to a standardization
of pronunciation .

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In the nineteenth century , phoneticians such as Henry Sweet, Wilhelm Viëtor, and Paul Passy,
promoted a great interest on speaking skills which was to be developed by the Direct Method in the
late 1800s and early 1900s. Yet, these phoneticians formed the International Phonetic Association
in 1886 and developed the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA). This alphabet made it possible to
accurately represent the sounds of any language because, for the first time, there was a consistent
one-to-one relationship between a written symbol and the sound it represented.
Such a system is still used nowadays as it allows us to capture the sounds of the language more
accurately. Most of the symbols for consonants sounds will be familiar ones, since they are taken
mainly from the Roman alphabet, and for distinct consonant phonemes, a few special symbols were
introduced.
In the case of English, the use of a phonemic transcription system is especially important because
the language has no simple sound-symbol correspondence system, that is, one letter of the alphabet
does not represent the same sound all of the time, nor does a specific sound always find its
representation in one letter of the alphabet. The peculiarities of the English spelling system derive
from its highly involved language history, which include multiple foreign influences and the
acquisition of many loan words (Celce-Murcia 2001).
By the twentieth century, during the 1940s and 1950s, the Reform Movement played an important
role in the development of Audiolingualism in the United States and the Oral Approach in Britain
for which pronunciation was very important and was taught explicitly from the start. Their main
features are, firstly, that students imitate or repeat sounds, a word, or an utterance out of a model
given by the teacher or a recording; and secondly, that the teacher makes use of information from
phonetics to demonstrate the articulation of sounds. Moreover, the technique of the minimal pair
drill helps students distinguish between similar and problematic sounds in the target language
through listening discriminattion and spoken practice, thus the distinction between ‘sheep’ and
‘ship’.
During the 1970s the Silent Way and Community Language Learning still showed interesting
differences in the way they dealt with pronunciation. Thus, the Silent Way (Gattegno 1976) is
characterized first by the attention paid to accuracy of production of both the sounds and structures
of the target language from the very initial stage of instruction. Secondly, because language is not
learned by repeating after a model, but by sharpening the students inner criteria for ‘correctness’.
Learners attention is focused on how words combine in phrases, and on how blending, stress, and
intonation all shape the production of an utterance by means of sound-color charts and word charts.
On the other hand, Community Language Learning, a method developed by Charles A. Curran
(1976), is characterized by a client-centered learning where the pronunciation syllabus is primarily
student initiated and designed. Students decide what they want to practice and use the teacher as a
resource, a technique known as human computer.
In the 1980s, the Communicative Approach , currently dominant in language teaching, holds that the
primary purpose of language is communication, which means a renewed urgency on pronunciation
since intelligible pronunciation is one of the necessary components of oral communication.
Until now we can see that the emphasis in pronunciation instruction has been largely on a segmental
level, that is, getting the sounds right at the word level, dealing with words in isolation or with
words in very controlled and contrived sentence-level environment. In the mid- to late 1970s other
approaches directed most of their energy to teaching suprasegmental features of language (i.e.
rhythm, stress, and intonation) in a discourse context as the optimal way to organize a short-term
pronunciation course for nonnative speakers. Today, however, we see signs that pronunciation is

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moving towards a more balanced view. As a result, today’s pronunciation curriculum seeks to
identify the most important aspects of both the segmental and suprasegmental le vels and integrate
them depending on the needs of any group of learners.
As we stated at the beginning of this part, the main aim of this historical background is to offer a
variety of pedagogical techniques to provide a rich knowledge base in order to understand the
theoretical part on the English sound system to be developed below.
3. A THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK TO THE ENGLISH PHONOLOGICAL SYSTEM.
3. 1. The nature of communication: main features.
For our purposes in this study, communication shall be defined in terms of types, and main features.
Regarding types, we distinguish mainly two within the communication process, thus, verbal and
non-verbal codes. Firstly, verbal codes are related to those acts in which the code is the language,
that is, oral speech whereas non-verbal codes refer to communicative uses, such as paralinguistic
devices which relate directlyl to stress patterns in pronunciation.
Regarding main features, we highlight two important characteristics of human language which are
relevant to mention for our purposes. Firstly, the arbitrariness of signs where words and meanings
have no a priori connection will be examined within language as a system, and secondly, the
auditory-vocal channel which allowed human beings to produce messages through language will be
examined from a physical perspective within language as speech.
3. 1. 1. Language as system: a duality of patterning.
Following Algeo and Pyles (1982), a language will be defined as a system of conventional vocal
signs by means of which human beings communicate. These vocal signs are then directly related to
the phonological system, and therefore, to the consonant system. We must note that language as a
system is not only a collection of words but also rules or patterns that relate the words to one
another.
This arbitrariness of language lets people build an immensely large number of meaningful units out
of only a handful of meaningless units. Yet, this duality of patterning , which is perhaps the main
feature that distinguishes true human language from animals, relates to our unit in that the
meaningless components of a language make up its sound system, or phonology (phonemes).
At this point, it is worth remembering that in the description of sound systems, those sound
differences that distinguish words are called phonemes, and sounds that are perceptibly different
but do not distinguish words are called allophones. Moreover, the substitution of one phoneme for
another (i.e. the sounds in cat and cut) illustrates the importance of phonemes functioning in
contrastive distribution, that is, as minimally distinctive units of sound that can alter the meaning of
a word. Another way to think of the concepts of phoneme and allophone is to think of the various
allophones of a particular phoneme as all belonging to the same family, which are produced
depending on where they occur in a given word. This phenomena is called positional variation,
thus the phoneme /p/ in initial position (heavily aspirated as in pat); following and initial /s/ (not
aspirated as in spin); and in final position (with closed lips as in cup). We must bear in mind that

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following linguistic convention, phonemes are enclosed between slanted lines // and allophones are
enclosed in square brackets [ ].
3.1.2. Language as speech: the sounds of English.
According to Algeo and Pyles (1982), the signs of language, its words and morphemes, are
basically oral-aural, sounds produced by the mouth and received by the ear. In fact, it is a way to
affirm the primacy of oral communication since we human beings acquire language in the form of
speech, at both oral and auditory level. For the purpose of this study, our primary concern will be
the production, transmission, and reception of the sounds of English, in other words, the phonetics
of English.
Therefore, in next sections we shall examine first, the notion of phoneme and its features, and then,
the production of speech as a physiological aspect where the human vocal tract plays a prominent
role, and secondly, the sounds of speech, from an acoustic and auditory aspects where the main
features of sounds are depicted in detail. These two perspectives on the speech chain will provide
the reader with the relevant framework for a description and classification of speech sounds in
terms of linguistic analysis.
3.2. Phonetics vs phonology: sounds vs phonemes.
In treating sounds, phonologists seek to identify the smallest features which are adequate to
describe any human language by means of phonetic transcription. Linguistically speaking, we may
establish a distinction between the terms phonetics and phonology. This study is primarily
concerned with the sound system of English and it is well known that phonetic analysis should
occupy an important place in the study of any language (Gimson 1980).
On the one hand, phonetics deals with the characteristics of sounds themselves without any
reference to their function. Since the phonetic unit is the sound, it formulates methods of description
and classification of the sound types which occur in speech (articulatory, auditory, and acoustic; and
also, stages of production).
On the contrary, phonology deals with phonemes, and involves the study of the concrete phonetic
characteristics within the context of a specific language, thus English or Spanish phonemes.
According to Algeo and Pyles (1982), a phoneme is the smallest distinctive unit of speech which
may differ according to the phonetic environment in which it occurs. Then, we talk about
allophones , that is, similar sounds that are not distin ctive in complementary distribution (or also
called a specific environment).
Within next sections, a phonetic approach will provide an overview of the production of sounds
from a physiological aspect, that is, the speech chain in its three main stages, and the mechanism of
speech, with respect to the organs of speech involved in the process. Further on, a phonological
analysis will examine the English consonant system in detail.
3.3. The production of speech: a physiological aspect.
For the speaker to produce many differentiated sounds, only humans have been endowed with a
highly sophisticated speech organ which consists of consonants and vowels which are part of our

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vocal apparatus as a limited set of speech sounds. Language is considered to be, then, a universal
and biologically specific activity of human beings.
However, speech enables us to use our language in a very economic way for a virtually infinite
production of linguistic units. As we have mentioned before, linguistically speaking, the distinctive
speech sounds are called phonemes which are meaningless by themselves, and may be reassembled
into larger linguistic units, commonly called words. The way speakers may use language so as to
convey the meaning of their message is examined under physiological aspects, such as the
physiological stages to make communication possible, and the speech organs involved in this
process.
3.3.1. The speech chain: three main stages.
According to Gimson (1980), any communicative act by means of speech involves a highly
complicated series of events on the part of the speaker. This manifestation of language has been
described as a physiological process where we may distinguish three main stages, thus
psychological, physiological, and physical.
The first stage is called psychological since the formulation of the concept takes place at a mental
level in the brain. Then, the message is transmitted by the nervous system to the organs of speech,
which in turn, on taking a provision of air, produce a particular pattern of sound in a conventional
manner, as it is learned by experience. This stage is also called initiation stage.
The second stage, known as the articulatory or physiological stage, takes place when our organs of
speech move and then create disturbances in the air, or whatever the medium may be through which
we are talking. This stage is also called phonation stage as the phonatory organs move in terms of
quality of voice to make the appropriate sound.
These varying air pressures or disturbances which regula te the shape of the sounds constitute the
third stage in our chain, called physical or acoustic, and also known as articulation stage. This is the
end of the production chain where the listener appreciates significant features within the speech
chain since we deal with the reception of the sound waves by the hearing apparatus.
These three stages requires a listener and a speaker for the message to be sent and received, but for
our purposes, we shall focus on the speaker, and more especially, on the concrete speech level
which involves the production of sounds rather than the transmission of the information along the
nervous system to the brain, and the linguistic interpretation of the message. Therefore, we shall
examine in next section the articulatory stage and its speech mechanisms so as to analyse the role
of the different organs on producing the sounds of speech.
3.3.2. The speech mechanism: the speech organs.
Following Gimson (1980), man possesses the ability to produce sounds and organise them into a
highly efficient system of communication whereas animals use the sounds for stimuli to signal fear,
hunger, sexual excitement, and the like. Nevertheless, both animals and human beings share the
common use of organs whose primary physiological function is unconnected with vocal
communication, namely, for man when speaking, those situated in the respiratory tract. Following
O’Connor (1988), among those organs, common to vowels and consonants, we may mention (1)
lungs, (2) larynx (vocal cords and glottis), (3) pharynx (soft palate), (4) mouth, (5) teeth, (6) tongue,

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and (7) lips. Consonants are usually drawn in a diagram showing a side view of the parts of the
throat and mouth and nose which are important to recognise for English (Figure 1).
(1) First of all, in all languages we speak with air from the lungs. All the essential sounds of
English need lung air for their production as most speech sounds are produced when we breathe out.
Then the air interferes with its passage in various ways and at various places, and as a result, our
utterances are shaped by the physiological limitations imposed by the capacity of our lungs and by
the muscles which control their action.
(2) Secondly, the air-stream released by the lungs undergoes important modifications in the upper
stages of the respiratory tract. The air comes up through the trachea or wind-pipe, and then it passes
through the larynx which is formed of cartilage and muscle, and is situated in the upper part of the
trachea. Since it looks like a casing, it is commonly called the ‘Adam’s apple’.
The vocal folds (or vocal cords) are two small folds of ligament and elastic tissue lying opposite
each other across the air passage. They may be brought together or parted by the rotation of the
arytenoid cartilages through muscular action. The air can pass freely through the opening between
the folds, known as the glottis, and when the vocal cords are brought together tightly, no air can
pass. This holding back of the compressed air followed by a sudden release is called the glottal
stop. On the contrary, when the vocal cords are tightly open, we define it as friction.
In using the vocal folds for speech, the most important function of those consists in their role as a
vibrator set in motion by lung air, that is, the production of voice, or phonation. For our purposes in
the analysis of English, we shall focus on the production of voiced and voiceless sound. Voiced
sounds are achieved when the vocal cords are vibrating close together whereas voiceless sounds are
made when the vocal cords are wide open, the air passes freely between them, and there is no
vibration.
(3) Thirdly, the air-stream, having passed through the larynx, is now subject to further modification
according to the shape within the upper cavities of the pharynx and mouth , and also, according to
whether the nasal cavity is brought into use or not. It is worth mentioning that the shape and volume
of this long chamber is modified by the muscles enclosing the pharynx, by the movement of the
back of the tongue, and the position of the soft palate.
We shall concentrate on the pharyngeal cavity which extends from the top of the larynx, past the
epiglottis and the root of the tongue, to the region in the rear of the soft palate, which may adopt
different positions. Thus, if the soft palate is lowered but a complete obstruction is made at some
point in the mouth, no oral escape is possible and a purely nasal escape of this sort occurs whereas
if the soft palate is held in its raised position, there is an oral escape through the mouth, as all
normal English sounds have.
(4) Fourth, although all the cavities so far mentioned play an essential part in the production of
speech sounds, most attention has traditionally been paid to the behaviour of the cavity formed by
the mouth. This oral chamber is limited by a number of boundaries, such as the teeth, at the front;
the hard palate, in the upper part; and the pharyngeal wall (soft palate), in the rear. The remaining
organs are movable: the lips, the various parts of the tongue, and the soft palate with its pendent
uvula. For a description of the articulation of sounds, we would include the lower jaw and the space
between the upper and lower teeth.
The whole palate forms the roof of the mouth , and separates the mouth cavity from the nasal
cavity. Most of it is hard and fixed in position, but when your tongue-tip is as far back as it will go,

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away from your teeth, you will notice the palate becomes soft. It is relevant, then, for our purposes
to divide the hard, fixed part of the palate on the roof of the mouth into three parts. Thus, those
boundaries correspond to the alveolar ridge, the hard palate and the soft palate.
First, moving backwards from the upper teeth is the alveolar ridge or teeth ridge which can be
clearly felt behind the upper front teeth; secondly, the hard palate is the highest part of the palate
shaped as a bony arch between the alveolar ridge and the beginning of the soft palate; and finally,
the soft palate or velum, which is capable, as we have previously seen, of being raised or lowered,
and whose extremity is called uvula.
Accordingly, in order to describe English consonants, the main divisions will be referred to as
dental, alveolar, palatal (the hard palate), and velar (the soft palate). It is worth mentioning that the
alveolar ridge is especially important in English because many of the consonant sounds like (i.e. /t/
in tea, /d/ in doll, /n/ in no, /l/ in lemon, /r/ in rhyno, /c/ in pence, /s/ in says, /sh/ in wash, /g/ in
garage, /ch/ in chain, and /j/ in Jane) are made with the tongue touching or close to the alveolar
ridge.
(5) The lower front teeth are used in English to some extent as passive articulators in sounds such
as /t/ and the sound in thin or this. Furthermore, they are not important in speech except that if they
are missing certain sounds, for instance, /s/ and /z/, which will be difficult to make. Also, the tip,
blade, and rims of the tongue may articulate with the teeth as for the th sounds in English.
(6) The tongue is the most important of the organs of speech because it has the greatest variety of
movement and flexibility so as to assume a great variety of positions in the articulation of both
vowels and consonants. Although the tongue has no obvious natural divisions like the palate, it is
useful to think of it as divided into four arbitrary parts, thus back, front, blade, and tip.
Imagine a diagram showing a side view of the mouth where we can see the parts of the tongue. The
back of the tongue lies under the soft palate, and when the tongue is at rest, its tip lies behind the
lower teeth; the front lies under the hard palate. The region where the front and back meet is known
as the centre or dorsum. The tapering section facing the teeth ridge is called the blade and its
extremity the tip. Both lie under the alveolar ridge, and are particularly mobile as they can touch the
whole of the lips, the teeth, the alveolar ridge and the hard palate. The tip and blade region is
sometimes known as the apex, and the edges of the tongue are known as the rims.
Generally, in the articulation of consonants, articulations have a concave relationship, that is, many
consonant sounds are pronounced with the sides of the tongue curved up in the way to meet the
sides of the palate.
(7) The lips take up different positions as they are movable parts. The shape which they assume
will, therefore, affect the shape of the total cavity. Thus they can be brought firmly together so that
they completely block the mouth, as in the initial sounds of pat and bat, or they can be directed
through the nose by the lowering of the soft palate, as in the initial sound of mat. They can also be
pushed forward to a greater or lesser extent, and if they lips are kept apart either flat or with
different amounts of rounding, they can be summarized under six headings (Gimson 1980).
Thus, first, when held sufficiently close together over all their length, friction occurs between them.
Then we obtain fricative sounds, with or without voice (i.e. when pronouncing word). Secondly, the
spread lip position takes place when held sufficiently far apart for no friction to be heard, usually in
vowels (i.e. see), and remaining fairly close together and energetically spread. Thirdly, a neutral
position occurs with a medium lowering of the lower jaw (i.e. get). Fourth, when held relatively

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apart, they are in an open position without any marked rounding (i.e. card). Fifth, a close rounded
position, where the aperture is small and rounded, and tightly pursed (i.e. do). And finally, the open
rounded position, where the aperture is held wide apart (i.e. got).
Variations of these six positions may be encountered within an open and close rounding type.
English consonants, with the exception of such sounds as [p, b, m, w] whose primary articulation
involves lip action, will tend to share the lip position of the adjacent vowel.
3.4. Sound changes: modifications in the English consonants.
Due to a relative freedom in spelling for centuries before the eighteenth century, the history of
spoken English, from Old English to its present-day form, has undergone important changes,
changes which have affected every aspect of the language, its morphology, syntax, and vocabulary,
and in particular, pronunciation.
It is worth noting that consonants have been subject to less changes than vowels, for a consonantal
articulation usually involves an approximation of organs which can be felt. In fact, such an
articulation tends to be more stable in that it is more easily identified and transmitted more exactly
from one generation to another.
According to Gimson (1980), there are three main types of consonant changes, thus modification of
sound, loss, or addition. He claims that it is usually possible to explain the type of modification
which has taken place and the approximate period during which it occurred. Firstly, regarding loss
of sounds, we note that double (or long) consonants within words were lost by late Middle English;
certain other consonant clusters were no longer tolerated by Middle English, thus /hl, hr, hn/, and
/kn, gn, wr/ in the early Modern English period. Also, post-vocalic /r/ was lost in the south-east of
England in the eighteenth century. Secondly, regarding modification and loss, we note that
allophones of certain phonemes were also lost, thus the allophone of /g/ in late Old English, and the
allophones of /h/ in the seventeenth century. Finally, regarding addition, we note that new
phonemes emerged, as for example, the sounds of church and Jane in Old English; the sounds of
view /v/, the /d/, and she’s /z/ in Middle English; and the sounds of sing /nasal n/ and Jane in early
Modern English. Finally, /h/ is used initially in words of French origin where, originally, no /h/
sound was pronounced (i.e. habit, herb or humble).
3.5. A standard of pronunciation: Received Pronunciation (RP).
Socially speaking, there is an attitude towards a certain set of sound values which is considered to
be more acceptable than another. Moreover, a standard pronunciation exists, although it has never
been explicitly imposed by any official body. This unofficial standard emerges from disparities
between the speech sounds of younger and older generations, different parts of the country, and also
social classes. For reasons of politics, commerce, and the presence of the Court, it was the
pronunciation of the south-east of England, and more particularly, to that of the London region, that
this prestige was attached. This standard is called Received Pronunciation (RP).
The speech of the Court, phonetically largely that of the London area, incresingly acquired a
prestige value and, in time, lost some of the local characteristics of London speech. It may be said
to have been finally fixed, as the speech of the ruling class, through the conformist influence of the
public schools of the nineteenth century. With the spread of education, the situation arose in which
an educated man might not belong to the upper classes and still retain his regional characteristics.
Then, those eager for social advancement felt obliged to modify their accent in the direction of the
social standard. Pronunciation was, therefore, a marker of position in society .

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Great prestige is still attached to this implicitly accepted social standard of pronunciation since it
has become widely known and accepted through the advent of the radio. The BBC formerly
recommended this form of pronunciation mainly because it was the most widely understood type
which excited least prejudice of a regional kind. As a result, RP became identified in the public
mind with ‘BBC English’. This special position, basically educated Southern British English, has
become the form of pronunciation most commonly described in books on the phonetics of British
English and traditionally taught to foreigners.
In the following section we shall examine the English Consonant System on the basis of RP
conventions by means of a descriptive account of the English consonants as part of the sound
system.
4. ENGLISH CONSONANTS: PHONETIC SYMBOLS.
4.1. On defining English consonants.
Following O’Connor (1988), there are good reasons to consider consonants much more important
than vowels as, in speaking, if we leave out all the vowels sounds and pronounce only the
consonants, most English would still be fairly easy to understand.
Yet, one way to think of consonant sounds is as the solid blocks with which we construct words,
phrases, and sentences, and which are connected or held together by the vowels of a language,
considered to be a more fluid material. Together, they provide the basic structure to create the
architecture of a language, and meaningful sound combinations (Cerce-Murcia (2001).
Besides, according to Gimson (1980), this process of commutation is carried out by twenty-four
distinctive units (figure 2) which may be defined, first, in terms of their function, by which a
consonant cannot usually constitute the peak of a syllable, and therefore it is considered to be as a
non-central or marginal element; and secondly, in terms of their phonetic nature, where the vocal
cord vibration can be interrupted and there is obstruction of the airflow when the various
articulators approach each other. On the contrary, in the production of vowels there is no vibration
of the vocal cords, and are considered to be the peak of the syllable.
4.2. A classification of English consonants.
As stated before, in the production of consonant sounds we observe that the airflow from the lungs
is obstructed in its way up by contact with the articulators, which play an important role in the
classification of the consonant inventory. However, they are not the only feature that helps classify
consonants in mainly articulatory terms.
Following Cerce-Murcia (2001), the twenty-four distinct consonant phonemes of English can be
distinguish along three main dimensions: voicing (whether the vocal cords are vibrating), place of
articulation (where the sound is made), and manner of articulation (how the airflow is affected).
However, we will also rely on some secondary features that enable us to describe these phonemes
more accurately. These include whether the sound is aspirated or nonaspirated, and positional
restrictions. A more detailed description would include additional information concerning, for
instance, the airflow motion (pulmonic or non-pulmonic), the airflow direction (egressive or

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ingressive), the shape of the remainder of the tongue (blade, rims or tip), the relative position of the
jaws (lowered or raised), and lip position (rounded or spread). However, these features are not
either primary or secondary characteristics of English consonants, but additional descriptive details.
So far, before proceeding with a more complete description of voicing, place and manner of
articulation of English consonants, it is relevant to discuss other secondary features, such as the
phenomenon of aspiration and positional restrictions for an accurate further classification of each
consonant.
4.2.1. Secondary features: aspiration and positional restrictions.
The concept of aspiration is closely related, firstly, to the concept of positional restriction by which
consonants can potentially occur in five different environments, thus syllable initial, syllable final,
intervocalic, initial clusters, and final clusters, and secondly, to the concept of positional variation,
by which the same phoneme is pronounced differently in different positions or environments.
Aspiration is one example of how this environment can affect the articulation of a sound, especially
with the stop consonants /p, t, k/. It is defined as the brief puff of air, strongly expelled, that
accompanies the allophones of /p, t, k/ in words such as pan, tan, and key. The feature of aspiration
is commonly regarded from an acoustic point of view as the voiceless interval occurring between
the release burst of the plosive and the onset of the voicing of the following sound.
In general, then, we can say that the voiced stop consonants are not aspirated, whereas the voiceless
stop consonants are. However, we need to further qualify this statement, since the occurrence of
aspiration with /p, t, k/ depends on the position of the consonant within a word. For instance, in
initial position (i.e. peal, test, k in) and at the beginning of a stressed syllable (i.e. repeal, detest,
akin). However, in casual speech, the same six stop consonant sounds /p, t, k/ and /b, d, g/ are often
not released in final position, and they are weakly aspirated.
Foreign learners may have difficulties in differentiating such minimal word pairs. They may tend to
confuse initial voiced stops in English with thier own language’s unaspirated voiceless stops, and
produce unaspirated stops in place of the English aspirated counterparts. Aspiration, then, may
provide a valuable clue to perceiving and producing these words accurately.
4.2.2. Voicing.
Voicing is also a primary characteristic of each consonant as it states whether or not the vocal cords
are vibrating when the airflow moves from the lungs to the oral or nasal passages. During the
explanation of how consonants sounds are formed, the concept of voicing becomes very important
since it is the feature that distinguishes between stops, fricatives, and affricates articulated in the
same place.
When the vocal cords are relatively close and tense, and vibrate in the production of a sound, we
deal with voiced consonants. On the contrary, when the vocal cords are relatively separate and not
tense, and they do not vibrate when pronouncing a sound, then we deal with voiceless consonants.
We can distinguish voiced from voiceless either by feeling our Adam’s apple or by putting fingers
in our ears and listening to which of the pair of sounds can be heard.
Generally, in the speech chain, the distinction between voiced and voiceless is not only achieved by
the presence or absence of vibration in the vocal cords but also by the presence of aspiration.

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Therefore, in phonetic terms, it is more accurate to use the terms lenis and fortis rather than the
terms voiced and voiceless in order to categorize the two sets of voicing.
4.2.3. Place of articulation.
Before proceeding to the description of consonant sounds according to the place of articulation
where they occur, it is worth noting first that in the production of sounds, air passes through one or
both of two passageways: the oral cavity (mouth) or the nasal passageway (nose), depending on
whether the nasal passage is blocked off or not. Accordingly, we may refer to oral or nasal sounds.
Moreover, it is useful to differenciate between the articulator and the point or place of articulation,
which is where the contact with the articulator occurs (Cerce-Murcia 2001). The articulators are
defined as the most movable part of the articulatory system, and are classified into two types:
movable (or active) and fixed (or passive). The tongue is considered to be the most movable
articulator whereas passive articulators only serve to give an adjective to the point of articulation,
thus lips (labial), teeth (dental), palate (palatal), and so on.
As mentioned earlier, the main articulators used to produce sounds are the lower lip and the various
parts of the tongue , which for descriptive purposes is further divided into parts: the tip and the blade
(which constitute the front of the tongue), and the body (mid- and back sections), and the root (the
back-most section dow n in the throat, not visible). Other articulators include the jaw, the uvula (the
small moveable flap at the back of the soft palate), the velum (the soft palate which opens or closes
the nasal passageway), and the vocal cords within the larynx.
Therefore, important points of articulation in English may be clearly seen in a sagittal section
diagram of these organs of speech, from left to right, starting by the upper lip, the teeth, the roof of
the mouth, beginning with the alveolar ridge (just behind the front teeth) and continuing back
through the hard palate area to the velum. Similarly, for our purposes, we shall draw a chart where
the vertical axis on the left will represent the manner of articulation (to be examined in next
section), and the horizontal upper axis will virtually represent the places of articulation for English
consonants in a sagittal section of the mouth. They are summarized as follows.
(1) Labial consonants are divided into two types. Firstly, bilabial /b, p, m, w/ when sounds are
produced with the two lips as in the words buy, pie, my, and wool. Secondly, labiodental /f,v/ when
sounds are produced with the upper teeth and inner lower lip as in the words fee and veal.
(2) Dental consonants /?, d/ are produced when the tongue tip is on or near the inner surface of the
upper teeth as in the words thick and then.
(3) Alveolar consonants /t, d, s, z, n, l/ are produced when the tongue tip and blade is on or near the
tooth ridge as in the words to, do, zoo, new, and light.
(4) Post-alveolar consonant /r/ and the clusters /tr, dr/ are produced when the tip and rims of the
tongue articulate with the rear part of the alveolar ridge but not touching it as in the words red, tree
and draw. We may talk about the retracted /r/ (South-West British and American English), called
retroflex, when the tip of the tongue is curled back to articulate with the part of the hard palate
immediately behind the alveolar ridge.

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(5) Palato-alveolar consonants /?, ∞, t?, →/ are produced when the blade, or the tip and blade, of the
tongue articulates with the alveolar ridge and there is at the same time a raising of the front of the
tongue towards the hard palate as in the words ship, beige, church, and Jim.
(5) Palatal consonant /j/ is produced when the tongue blade or body is articulated near the hard
palate as in you. However, this consonant is usually included in the category of semi-vowel as from
the point of view of phonetic description, it is more properly treated as a vowel glide.
(6) Velar consonants /k, g, ?/ are produced when the back of the tongue is on or near the soft palate
as in the words go, kite, and bang,
(7) Finally, glottal consonant /h/ is produced by air passing from the windpipe throught the vocal
cords, causing friction but not vibration as in hi. This sound is articulated in the glottis and it is
known as the glottal stop.
4.2.4. Manner of articulation.
In this section we describe how the various speech organs interact with each other, providing a
further dimension to how consonants are articulated. As mentioned, sounds are produced by air
moving from the lungs through the articulatory organs and being released through the oral or nasal
passages.
In the production of consonant sounds, whereas vowel sounds are articulated with a free airflow,
consonant sounds involve some narrowing of the articulatory passageway, or some obstruction of
the airflow due to the different configurations of the speech organs. As the air encounters these
obstacles, different kinds of sounds are produced. Therefore, the manner of articulation refers to the
type of obstacle course the air takes in producing different kind of sounds.
So far, the different configurations of the speech organs are to be set in a vertical axis in the chart
mentioned above, and classified as follows. (1) Plosives (or stops) /p, t, k and b, d, g/ are produced
when the airstream is blocked or stopped completely before its release, and suddenly the air escapes
making an explosive sound. Plosives fall into three groups as far as the place of articulation is
concerned. Thus, bilabial, alveolar, and velar.
(2) Fricatives /f, v, ?, d, s, z, ?, ∞, h/ are produced when the articulatory organs approach but do not
touch each other, and the air is forced through the passageway in the mouth or throal causing
continuous friction.
(3) Affricates /t?, →, tr, dr/ are a combination of a stop and a fricative. In this case, air pressure is
first built up, and it is released through a narrow passageway like a fricative.
(4) Nasals /m, n, ?/ are produced when the air passes through the nasal cavity since the oral passage
is closed and the velum moves forward to free the nasal cavity.
(5) Lateral /l/ (or approximant) is produced when the airstream flows along the sides of the tongue,
and it has two allophones, clear and dark /l/. Note that Celce-Murcia (2001) includes /l/ within the
liquid series.
(6) Frictionless continuant /r/ (also approximant, post-alveolar and alveopalatal) is produced when
the tongue tip is near the alveopalatal area but does not touch the roof of the mouth. This consonant

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has different realizations regarding positional restrictions, thus linking /r/, intervocalic /r/, devoiced
/r/ after voiceless consonants, and the American alveolar retroflex /r/ and palatal /r/ or lingual roll.
It is worth mentioning that, in general, /r/ is included in the fricative series (as a post-alveolar
fricative). Thus, other classifications are, following Gimson (1980), as a post-alveolar frictionless
continuant (or approximant); following O’Connor (1988), as a gliding consonant, together with the
semi-consonants /w/ and /j/; and recently, Celce-Murcia (2001), included /r/ in the liquid series
within a palatal classification, and also as an approximant. For our purposes in this study we shall
follow Celce-Murcia and Gimson, and therefore we shall classify /r/ in the liquid series as a postalveolar frictionless continuant.
(7) Finally, the semi-consonant glides /j/ and /w/, also called semi-vowels because they consist of a
quick, smooth, non-friction glide towards a following vowel sound. In their production, the
airstream moves through the oral chamber in a relatively unobstructed manner.
A final category of consonant sounds involves the glide, or semivowel, sounds, which behave
similarly to the liquids in that the airstream moves through the oral chamber in a relatively
unobstructed manner. Glides behave like consonants in syllable -initial position yet also represent
movements that combine with vowels to form diphthongs (a vowel sound followed by a
nonadjacent glide within the same syllable, as in boy). Belonging to this category are the glides /j/
and /w/, as in year and wood.
Clearly, in the production of any given consonant, both the place and manner of articulation and
voicing, along with other secondary features, figure prominently in determining what sound is
produced. Only by combinin g all of the relevant articulatory features can we accurately describe
English Consonants Phonemes (figure 3).
Therefore, in the following section, we shall introduce the reader, firstly, to the entire English
consonant inventory, classifying individual sounds according to their articulatory features, and
secondly, presenting consonants in this manner, special attention should be paid to the symbols that
differ from regular spelling, and to sound contrasts that do not exist in Spanish.
5. A DESCRIPTION OF THE ENGLISH CONSONANT INVENTORY COMPARED TO THE
SPANISH CONSONANT SYSTEM.
In this section, we suggest classifying individual sounds according to their articulatory features
mainly in terms of manner of articulation, thus plosives, fricatives, affricates, nasals, lateral, postalveolar, and semi-consonants. During the explanation of how consonant sounds are formed, we
shall examine (1) articulatory definition; (2) articulatory description; (3) features such as voicing,
allophones, spelling, or aspiration; and (4) positional restrictions, and (5) positional variation or
variants.
Besides, we shall examine the most striking differences and similarities of both systems by
comparing English consonants with their Spanish counterparts, where we shall pay special attention
to those symbols that differ from the Spanish consonant system and may cause difficulties for
Spanish learners of English. Therefore, before proceeding to this descriptive account, it is relevant
to establish the main distinctive features of English and Spanish consonantal systems.

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5.1. English vs Spanish consonantal systems: main distinctive features.
When comparing English and Spanish consonant systems, we find important differences and some
similarities. Thus, regarding quantity, the English consonant system counts on twenty-four
consonants whereas Spanish counts on just nineteen. Regarding the place of articulation,
physically, the speech organs are equally distributed in both systems.
However, regarding manner of articulation, there are relevant constrasts in the way consonant
sounds are produced in both systems. Regarding voicing, we must note the distinction between
voiced and voiceless consonants is a primary characteristic of English consonants, not being the
case for Spanish (except for dialectial variations). This is also the case of aspiration, which is
primarily characteristic of the English phonological system.
Another feature that helps contrast English and Spanish is positional restrictions, by which all the
English consonants, except for /h/, may be in final syllable position whereas for Spanish only seven
consonants may appear in this position.
According to Delattre (1965), in both languages, most of the articulations in the speech chain are to
be given in the alveolar ridge area, and as a result, frontal resonance is produced. Therefore, the
most frequent consonants in in Spanish are respectively /s, n, r, d, t, l/, and in English, they are /d, l,
n, r, s, t/. Besides, consonants /d/ and /h/ are quite frequent in English due to its realizations in the
indefinite article the, and the demonstrative adjectives this, that, these, those .
Further details regarding distinctive features within the mentioned descriptive type will be offered
within the detailed description of each phoneme in next section.
5.2. English plosive consonants /p, t, k, b, d, g/.
On defining plosive consonants, we shall state that in the production of plosives the breath is
completely stopped at some point in the mouth, by the lips, the tip of the tongue and the back of the
tongue, and then released with a slight explosion.
With respect to general features, we find two main types, physiological and phonetic. Regarding
physiological features, the articulation of plosives consists of three main stages. Firstly, a closing
stage, during which the articulating organs move together in order to form the obstruction;
secondly, a compression stage, during which lung action compresses the air behind the closure; and
thirdly, a release or explosion stage, during which the organs forming the obstruction part rapidly,
allowing the compressed air to escape abruptly. In general, in their production, English plosives are
more tense than their Spanish counterparts.
Regarding phonetic features, plosives phonemes show oppositions in word initial, medial, and final
positions with respect to (1) place of articulation, (2) force of articulation, (3) aspiration, (4)
voicing, and (5) length of preceding sounds.
Thus, as far as (1) the place of articulation is concerned, the plosives fall into three constrastive
groups. Firstly, bilabial /p, b/ when the airstream is stopped by the two lips, causing pressure to
build slightly before being released through the mouth. Secondly, alveolar /t, d/ when, similarly, a
barrier is created as the tip of the tongue contacts the alveolar ridge. Finally, velar plosives /k, g/
when the back of the tongue may rise to meet the velum, temporarily blocking the airflow.

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Concerning (2) force of articulation, we distinguish between fortis and lenis plosives, that is
respectively, voiceless and voiced consonants. For instance, voiceless /p, t, k/ tend to be pronounced
with more muscular energy and a stronger breath effort than voiced /b, d, g/.
Concerning (3) aspiration, the lenis series /b, d, g/ is not normally aspirated whereas the fortis or
voiced series /p, t, k/ is in different positions within the syllable. For instance, when initial in an
accented syllable, they are usually accompanied by aspiration, as in pin; when followed by liquids
/l, r/ or semiconsonants /w, j/, aspiration is manifested in the devoicing of those consonants, as in
please and try; when /s/ precedes /p, t, k/, there is practically no aspiration, as in spin. In final
positions, they have no audible release.
Concerning (4) voicing, the lenis series /b, d, g/ may have full voice when they occur in positions
between voiced sounds, as in labour, leader, or eager, but they will never be fricatives as in
Spanish in medial position. The fortis series /p, t, k/ is not voiced.
Finally, concerning (5) length of preceding sounds, it is a feature of RP that syllables closed by
fortis consonants in final positions are considerably shorter than those which are open, or closed by
a lenis consonant.
Finally, the main differences between English vs Spanish consonant system is that, in general,
Spanish learners of English are advised to pay special attention to the aspiration of /p, t, k/ when
these phonemes occur initially in an accented syllable as in Spanish these plosives are characterized
by absence of aspiration.
5.2.1.

Bilabial plosives /p, b/.

As stated before, /p/ and /b/ are called bilabial because the airstream is stopped by the two lips,
causing pressure to build slightly before being released through the mouth. However, there are
differences between them (figure 4).
Thus, in articulatory terms, on defining /p/, we would say it is a voiceless bilabial plosive whereas
/b/ is a voiced bilabial plosive. This means that, when uttered, lung air is compressed behind the
closure of the lips, and the vocal folds are held wide apart for /p/, but may vibrate for all or part of
the compression stage for /b/. We observe that Spanish consonants are less tense.
Moreover, they differ regarding aspiration as /b/ is never aspirated whereas /p/ presents aspiration,
and three different allophones depending on its position withing the word. Thus, the allophone of
/p/ in initial position is often heavily aspirated or accompanied by a rush of air (i.e. pat); the
allophone of /p/ following an initial /s/ is not aspirated (i.e. spin); and finally, the allophone of /p/ in
final position, in which the lips remain closed and the /p/ has no audible release (i.e. cup). The
substitution of the phoneme /b/ for /p/ would result in a change of meaning (i.e. pat vs. bat, or pig
vs. big ). It is worth noting that Spanish has no aspiration.
Besides, they behave in different ways depending on their voicing, and their positions within the
word. Thus, /p/ is not voiced but /b/ presents voicing in initial position when it occurs between
voiced sounds (i.e. able, rub out, marble), or it is preceded by a voiced consonant in the sentence
(i.e. your baby). In other situations, as in initial or final positions (i.e. bill, rob), and in the
environment of voiceless consonants (i.e. top boy), it will be partially or completely voiceless.
Yet, English bilabial plosive /b/ will never become a fricative labiodental /v/ in medial position as it
occurs in Spanish (i.e. Abril, clavo) in the environment of vowels or voiced consonants. Another

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difference relies on the Spanish spelling for /b/, being b and v (i.e. bravo ), which in general are
pronounced identically, except for some dialectal regions.
To sum up, Spanish learners of English must be very careful to pronounce /p/ and /b/ with the lips,
and to open the lips and allow the breath to explode out of the mouth before a pause. Besides, some
learners have great difficultry in hearing and making a difference between /b/ and /v/ (i.e. marble
and marvel) as they sound the same for the Spanish ear. Therefore, those who have difficulty with
/b/ and /v/ must again be sure to close the lips firmly for the /b/ and make a very light explosion but
no friction..
Foreign speakers of English may be generally intelligible without adopting any of these features,
and therefore, if they aim to get a near approximation to the speech of English natives, they should
adopt at least the following features: (1) no audible release of bilabial plosives in final positions (i.e.
map, robe); (2) no audible release in stop clusters (plosive + affricate) as in dropped /p + t/, rubbed
/b + d/, white post /t + p/, good boy /d + b/ and big boy /g + b/; (3) glottal reinforcement of final /p/
(i.e. shop); (4) nasal release (plosive + nasal) by lowering the soft palate as in topmost /p + m/, and
submerge /b + m/; and finally (5) lateral release of /p and b/ + / l/ as in apple , or bubble .
5.2.2. Alveolar plosives /t, d/.
As stated before, /t/ and /d/ are articulated when the tip of the tongue contacts the alveolar ridge,
and the air escapes with force upon the sudden separation of the alveolar closure. However, in
Spanish, these consonants are considered to be dental rather than alveolar as they are articulated by
placing the tip of the tongue against the upper teeth (figure 5).
Thus, in articulatory terms, /t/ is defined as a voiceless alveolar plosive whereas /d/ is a voiced
alveolar plosive. This means that, when uttered, lung air is compressed behind the closure of the
lips, and the vocal folds are held wide apart for /t/, but may vibrate for all or part of the compression
stage for /d/ according to its situation in the utterance.
Regarding spelling, /t/ is regularly spelt t, tt, th (i.e. tie, written, Thomas); also –ed as in the verbal
past tenses and participles after voiceless consonants rather than /t/ (i.e. watched or finished); and as
a silent t in words (i.e. castle, listen) and word junctions (i.e. last Christmas). On the other hand, /d/
is regularly spelt d, dd (i.e. date, odd); and is also used in the verbal past tenses and participles after
voiced consonants rather than /d/ (i.e. listened or played).
Moreover, regarding aspiration, /d/ is never aspirated whereas /t/ presents aspiration, and three
different allophones depending on its position withing the word. Thus, the allophone of /t/ in initial
position is often heavily aspirated or accompanied by a rush of air (i.e. take); the allophone of /t/
following an initial /s/ is not aspirated (i.e. steak ); and finally, the allophone of /t/ in final position,
in which the /t/ has no audible release (i.e. outpost, football). The substitution of the phoneme /t/ for
/d/ would result in a change of meaning (i.e. tie vs.die ). It is worth noting that Spanish has no
aspiration.
Besides, they behave in different ways depending on their voicing, and their positions within the
word. Thus, /t/ is not voiced and /d/ is not either, but it presents voicing in initial position when it is
preceded by a voiced consonant in the sentence (i.e. my daughter ) or when it occurs between voiced
sounds (i.e. London, under). In other situations, as in initial or final positions (i.e. dog, road), and in
the environment of voiceless consonants (i.e. duke,birthday, date ), it will be partially or completely
voiceless. It is worth noting that /d/ is fully voiced in Spanish, but not in English.

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It is to be emphasized for foreign speakers of English that the general articulation of /t/ and /d/ is an
alveolar one, made with the tongue-tip raised whereas the corresponding phonemes of Spanish have
a dental rather than an alveolar point of contact. Those learners who carry over from Spanish a
dental articulation should practise the slightly affricated forms of /t,d/ in words such as time, day, as
well as the post-alveolar, nasal, and retroflex varieties of these alv eolar plosives.
Therefore, in adopting these features, students who aim to get a near approximation to the speech of
English natives should adopt at least the following features: (1) no audible release of alveolar
plosives in final positions (i.e. mat, road); (2) no audible release in stop clusters (plosive + affricate)
as in white post /t + p/, good boy /d + b/, object /b + d∞ /; (3) glottal reinforcement of final /t/ (i.e.
shot); and finally (4) affrication of plosives, that is, alveolar plosives followed by fricatives in
strongly accented positions (i.e. time, day), in weakly accented positions (i.e., waiting, riding), and
in final positions (i.e. hat, bed). Also, in plural and third person singular formation as /t + s/ and /d +
z/ (i.e. cats, decides).
We also observe that the lip position for both of them will be conditioned by that of the adjacent
sounds, especially that of a following vowel or semi-vowel, for instance, spread lips for /t/ in teeth,
and lip rounding for /t/ in tooth. Besides, the alveolar stop contact is particularly sensitive to the
influence of the place of articulation of /t/ and /d/ with the following consonant. Thus, followed by
the approximant /r/ as in try, dry , the contact will be post-alveolar; followed by the voiced fricatives
/ , d/ as in eighth, not that, the contact will be dental; followed by nasals /m/ or /n/, the contact will
be nasal (i.e. eaten, admire), usually replaced by the glottal stop as in cotton, certain ; and finally,
when followed by /l/, the contact will be lateral (i.e. kettle, middle).
5.2.3. Velar plosives /k, g/.
As previously mentioned, /k/ and /g/ are articulated when the back of the tongue may rise to meet
the velum, temporarily blocking the airflow from the lungs. Then, the air escapes with force upon
the sudden separation of the linguo-velar closure (figure 6).
Thus, in articulatory terms, /k/ is defined as a voiceless velar plosive whereas /g/ is a voiced velar
plosive. This means that, when uttered, lung air is compressed behind the closure made between the
back of the tongue and the soft palate, and the vocal folds are held wide apart for /k/, but may
vibrate for all or part of the compression stage for /g/.
Regarding spelling, /k/ is regularly spelt k, c, cc + a, o, u; and also qu, ch (i.e. kind, cake, accord,
bouquet, chemist); also qu /kw/ as in quiet, quarter; and as a silent c or k in muscle, know. On the
other hand, /g/ is regularly spelt g, gg (i.e. gear, nigger ); and sometimes gh, gu (i.e. ghost, guard).
Moreover, regarding aspiration, /g/ is never aspirated whereas /k/ presents aspiration, and three
different allophones depending on its position withing the word. Thus, the allophone of /k/ in initial
position is often heavily aspirated or accompanied by a rush of air (i.e. come, according); the
allophone of /k/ following an initial /s/ is not aspirated (i.e. scar, skin); and finally, the allophone of
/k/ in final position, which has no audible release (i.e. rock, bank). In this final position, /k/ may
also be aspirated and shorten the vowel before it whereas /g/ lengthens the vowel. It is worth noting
that Spanish has no aspiration.
Besides, they behave in different ways depending on their voicing, and their positions within the
word. Thus, /k/ is not voiced and /g/ is not either, but it presents voicing in initial position when it is
preceded by a voiced consonant in the sentence (i.e. her goal) or when it occurs between voiced
sounds (i.e. hunger, ago, begin ). In other situations, as in initial or final positions (i.e. go, dog), and

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in the environment of voiceless consonants (i.e. black girl), it will be partially or completely
voiceless. It is worth noting that Spanish /g/ is fully voiced, and in medial position is uvular or
fricative rather than velar in some dialectal regions (i.e. Cataluña or Valencia).
Foreign learners of English must realize that the lip position will be conditioned by that of the
adjacent sounds, especially that of a following vowel or semi-vowel, for instance, spread lips for /k/
in keen, and lip rounding for /k/ in cool. Besides, the velar stop contact is particularly sensitive to
the influence of the following adjacent vowel. Thus, followed by a front vowel /i/, the contact will
be palatal (i.e. key, geese) whereas followed by a back vowel /o/, the contact will be velar; and
finally, followed by a central vowel, thus /^/ or /3:/, the contact will be made in the soft palate (i.e.
come, gun, curl, girl).
Yet, there are other variations which affect velar plosives, such as being followed by nasal or liquid.
Thus, followed by nasals /m/ or /n/, the contact will be nasal (i.e. thicken, black magic; ignore, big
man); and finally, when followed by /l/, the contact will be lateral (i.e. clean,buckle; struggle,
glow).
5.3. English fricative consonants /f, v, ?, d, s, z, ?, ∞, h/.
We may define the nine fricative consonants with respect to two main features, thus physiological
and phonetic. Regarding physiological features, we shall say that two organs are brought and held
close together for the escaping air-stream to produce strong friction, and therefore, noise. This
friction may or may not be accompanied by voice.
Regarding phonetic features, fricative phonemes show oppositions in word initial, medial, and final
positions with respect to (1) place of articulation, (2) force of articulation, (3) voicing, and (4)
length of preceding sounds.
Thus, as far as (1) the place of articulation is concerned, the fricatives fall into five constrastive
groups. Thus, labio-dental /f, v/; dental /?, d/; alveolar /s, z/; palato-alveolar /?, ∞/; and finally,
glottal /h/.
Concerning (2) force of articulation, we distinguish between fortis and lenis fricatives, that is,
voiceless and voiced consonants. For instance, voiceless /f, ?, s, ?/ tend to be pronounced with more
muscular energy and a stronger breath effort than voiced /v, d, z, ∞/.
Concerning (3) voicing, the lenis series /v, d, z, ∞/ may have full voice when they occur in positions
between voiced sounds whereas the fortis series /f, ?, s, ?/ is not voiced.
Concerning (4) length of preceding sounds, we deal with position restrictions in the sense that it is a
feature of RP that syllables closed by fortis consonants in final positions are considerably shorter
than those which are open, or clo sed by a lenis consonant.
Finally, Spanish learners of English should pay attention to the main differences between the
English and the Spanish consonant system, particularly to those fricative consonants that do not
exist in Spanish. Firstly, to independent phonemes, since in Spanish there are no palato-alveolar
fricative phonemes and there is a retraction of articulations in the alveolar region (i.e. /s/); secondly,
in the production of /h/ since in Spanish it is mute; and thirdy, to the degree of voicing in the lenis
series depending on position restrictions, and to the influence the fortis series has on the length of
preceding sounds.

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5.3.1. Labio-dental fricatives /f, v/.
Fricatives /f/ and /v/ (figure 7) are called labio-dental because the air is restricted by the narrow
passage formed by the lower lip and upper teeth as the soft palate is raised and the nasal resonator
shut off. We may observe a slight variation in the lip position regarding adjacent sounds. Thus, in
the case of a back strongly rounded vowel or of a bilabial plosive (i.e. fool, roof, obvious), the
contact on the lower lip tends to be more retracted than in the case of a front spread vowel (i.e. feel,
leaf).
Regarding spelling, /f/ is regularly spelt f, ff, ph, and gh.(i.e. faith, off, photo, enough). On the other
hand, /v/ is regularly spelt v, f,and ph (i.e. van, of, nephew).
In articulatory terms, the difference between them is mainly of strength: /f/ is considered to be
voiceless (or fortis) as the vocal cords do not vibrate whe reas /v/ is considered to be voiced (or
lenis).
Besides, they behave in different ways depending on their voicing, and their positions within the
word. Yet, /f/ is never voiced, but /v/ may presents voicing in initial, medial, and final position (i.e.
very, eleven, dive). It is worth noting that when /f/ and /v/ occur at the end of words, after a vowel,
they have an effect on the length of the vowel, for /f/ making the vowel shorter, and /v/ making the
vowel longer (i.e. safe and save). Another special variant is for RP speakers who may assimilate /v/
to /f/ before a voiceless consonant initial in the following word (i.e. have to, have some).
The labio-dental /f/ does not present any difficulties for Spanish learners of English as it is
pronounced in the same way in both languages. However, /v/ does, as in Spanish we do not have
voicing and we tend to use the same sound for both /v/ and /f/. In some cases, for instance, in some
Spanish communities (i.e. Valencia) there is a special voicing in initial posit ion (i.e. fino-vino; faca,
vaca), and in medial position in the environment of voiced consonants (i.e. cava, vivero). Therefore,
special attention must be paid to the degree of voicing in /v/ according to its situation and to the
length of sounds preceding , and to using strong friction between the lower lip and upper teeth for
/v/.
5.3.2. Dental fricatives / ?, d /.
Fricatives / ? / and / d / (figure 8) are called dental because, once the soft palate is raised and the
nasal resonator shut off, the air is restricted by the narrow passage formed by the tongue and the
teeth, and escapes between them causing friction. In addition, the lip position will depend upon the
adjacent vowel, being spread for front vowels (i.e. thief, these) and somewhat rounded for ba ck
vowels (i.e. thought, truth).
Regarding spelling, / ? / is always spelt th (i.e. thief, method, path, three, fifth) as well as /d/, which
is always spelt th (i.e. this, leather, with, rhythm).
In articulatory terms, the difference between them is mainly of strength: / ? / is considered to be
voiceless (or fortis) as the vocal cords do not vibrate whereas / d / is considered to be voiced (or
lenis).
Besides, they behave in different ways depending on their voicing, and their positions within the
word. Yet, / ? / is never voiced, but / d / may present voicing in initial and medial positions (i.e.

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then, breathing), and particularly in final position before a voiced consonant initial in the following
word (i.e. your mouth is). We must note that no important variants of / ?, d / occur, except when
followed by /s, z/, in which case they are ellided (i.e. clothes /kl? uz/), and also, when we find
sequences of the type /s,z/ followed by unaccented / d /, in which case, the preceding alveolar
articulation may influence the dental fricative in rapid speech (i.e. What’s the time? /’wΨts z?
‘taim/. Finally, in popular London speech, the difficulties of the dental articulation may lead to their
replacement by labio-dental fricatives (i.e. throw it, Smith! /’fr? u it, smif/).
Foreign learners of English must be reminded not to pronounce those words with the voiced labiodental fricative / d / as /d/, both in isolation and in combination with other fricatives, especially /s/
and /z/. In Spanish, the voiced labio-dental fricative / d / does not exist as an independent phoneme ,
and only occurs in some autonomous communities when it is in intervocalic position (i.e. lado,
dedo). However, the voiceless labio-dental fricative /?/ does not present any difficulties for Spanish
learners of English as it is similar to a Spanish phoneme whose spelling is z or ce, ci. The only
difference is that the Spanish phoneme is articulated more tense than the English one.
5.3.3. Alveolar fricatives /s, z/.
Fricatives /s/ and /z/ (figure 9) are called alveolar because, when the soft palate is ra ised and the
nasal resonator shut off, the air is restricted by the narrow passage formed by the tongue and the
upper alveolar ridge, where the side rims of the tongue contact with the upper side teeth. Then the
air escapes by means of a narrow groove in the centre of the tongue and causes friction.
Sometimes some speakers make a light additional contact between the lower lip and the upper teeth,
thus giving the sounds a secondary labio-dental quality, as we mentioned in the previous section.
This is a common speech habit.
Regarding spelling, /s/ is usually spelt s, ss, c, sc, x (i.e. so, pass, niece, science, axe) and similarly,
/z/ is usually spelt s, ss, z, zz, x (i.e. roses, scissors, zoo, dizzy, exact).
In articulatory terms, for /s/ the friction is voiceless, whereas for /z/ there may be some vocal fold
vibration, according to its situation within the word and its voicing. For instance, in medial position
the lenis /z/ tends to be fully voiced only when it occurs between voiced sounds (i.e. easy, by the
zoo). Moreover, in initial position, /z/ may be only partially voiced with silence preceeding (i.e.
zoo), and in final position may be completely voiceless when silence is following (i.e. peas ). Apart
from the articulatory variants, we may mention a weaker articulation of alveolar fricatives when
followed by /r/ with an assimilation to the palato alveolar / / and the semi-consonant /j/ (i.e. horseriding, news-reel).
Foreign learners must be reminded that the English phonemes /s/ and /z/ play an important role in
the English language since they represent the morphemes of plural formation, saxon genitive, and
third person singular. Moreover, they must be reminded of pronouncing the voiced alveolar
fricative /z/ correctly as it does not exist in Spanish as an independent phoneme. However, it occurs
when the phoneme /s/ preceeds a voiced consonant (i.e. mismo, desde). On the other hand, the
voiceless alveolar fricative /s/ does not present any difficulties for Spanish learners of English as it
shares a certain similarity with the English one. Yet, in Spanish it is articulated with the tip of the
tongue whereas in English it is articulated with the blade of the tongue towards the upper alveolar
ridge, and with much more tension than in Spanish.

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5.3.4. Palato-alveolar fricatives / , ∞/.
Fricatives / / and /∞/ (figure 10) are called palato-alveolar because, when the soft palate is raised
and the nasal resonator shut off, the air is restricted by the narrow passage formed by the tongue and
the hard palate. In their production, the escape of air is diffuse (compared with that of /s, z/), the
friction occurring between a more extensive area of the tongue and the roof of the mouth. Lip
positions depend on the adjacent vowel, being spread when preceeded by front vowels (i.e. ship,
she), and rounded when preceeded by back vowels (i.e. shoe). However, some speakers use liprounding in all positions.
Regarding spelling, / / is usually spelt sh, sch, ch or s, ss before u (i.e. shoe, schedule, machine,
sure, assure), and also –ti-, -si-, sci-, -ci-, and -ce- (i.e. nation, mansion, mission, conscience,
special, ocean). However, note x in ‘luxury’. Similarly, /∞/ is usually spelt –si-, s, z before u (i.e.
vision, measure, seizure) and, in French loan words, final –ge- (i.e. beige).
In articulatory terms, in the case of / /, the friction is voiceless and we find it in all positions within
the word, whereas for /∞/ there may be some vocal fold vibration, according to its situation within
the word and its voicing. It is worth noting that the lenis palato-alveolar /∞/ never occurs in initial
position, except for French loans (i.e. gigolo, guigue, jalousie, genre). In medial position it tends to
be fully voiced only when it occurs between voiced sounds (i.e. leisure, pleasure, explosion ).
Moreover, in final position may be completely voiceless when silence is following (i.e. garage),
and an alternative pronunciation with the voiced affricate /d∞/ is possible (i.e. prestige, barrage,
rouge ).
Concerning variants, we may mention that sometimes in certain words / / is not used by some
speakers in medial position. Thus, before long and short /u/ (i.e. issue, sexual, tissue); before /i/ +
vowel (i.e. ratio, appreciate, negotiate ); before /i/ or /j/ + vowel (i.e. axiom, gymnasium, Parisian);
it also occurs alternation between / / and /∞/ (i.e. Asia, transition, version); and finally, regarding
/∞/ in word final position, it shares an alternative pronunciation with the voiced affricate /d∞/ in
word final clusters of recent French loan-words (i.e. beige, rouge, prestige).
Foreign learners must be reminded that the English phonemes / / and /∞/ do not exist in Spanish.
Yet, the most similar Spanish counterparts may be found in regional variants or position restrictions
within the word. Firstly, the voiceless palato-alveolar / / may occur in Spanish in Andalucia and
Extremadura regions where it substitutes the phoneme /ch/ (i.e. muchacho /mu’ a o/), and also in
certain regions in Valencia (i.e. Jijona /xixona/). It also has, quite often, in final position a similar
pronunciation when the /s/ is followed by /j/ and it is palatalized (i.e. I did this yesterday /ai ‘did
‘di ’jest? dei/). Secondly, we may find the voiced palato-alveolar fricative /∞/ in words from
French origin, but not in Spanish.
5.3.5. Glottal fricative /h/.
The fricative /h/ is called glottal because, once the soft palate is raised and the nasal resonator shut
off, the air expelled from the lungs is restricted by the the narrow opening of the vocal cords with
considerable pressure. However, the friction is produced mainly in the mouth cavity and is
associated with the nature of the following vowel. Thus, resonance will be heard in the sequences
/hi:/, /ha:/ and /hu:/. Regarding spelling, /h/ is spelt h, wh (i.e. how, hat, who, whom).
In articulatory terms, since the common feature of all types of pre-vocalic /h/ is the passage of a
strong, voiceless air-stream through the open glottis, the sound is here referred to as a fortis,

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voiceless, glottal fricative. With the onset of the vocal fold vibration of the vowel, the air-pressure
is reduced. There is no distinctive fortis/lenis opposition as in the other English fricatives.
Regarding positional restrictions, the phoneme /h/ never appears in final position. Yet, it may
appear in initial position where it is always followed by a vowel (i.e. ham, hen, high, hot, huge).
However, /h/ is not pronounced initially in the words hour, honour, honest, heir, and heiress. In
medial position, it is always pronounced except for such words as exhaust, exhilarate, exhibit,
vehicle and vehement; and also in some final suffixes as in the words shepherd, Durham, and
Clapham.
Concerning variants, it is worth noting that in many types of popular regional speech, /h/ is lost, so
that no distinction is made between such RP minimal pairs as hill, ill or high, eye. Such loss of /h/ is
usually considered characteristic of uneducated speech although certain form words (especially
have, has, had, pronounds and pronominal adjectives) regularly lose /h/ in RP in unaccented, noninitial situations in connected speech.
Spanish learners of English must be reminded not to confuse the Eng lish glottal fricative /h/ with
the velar Spanish “j” /x/. The most similar pronunciation of the English /h/ in Spanish is given in
Andalucía and Extremadura where the “j” is in intervocalic position (i.e. ojo, hijo, lejos).

5.4. English affricate consonants / t , d∞, tr, dr/.
Affricate consonants are sounds which are a combination of a stop and a fricative, and in English,
only /t/ and /d/ plosives may have this type of release. In the production of these sounds, air
pressure is first built up. Rather than being released freely as in the production of a stop, the air is
released through a narrow passageway like a fricative. Therefore, affricate sounds present
considerable friction, but of shorter duration than fricatives.
In fact, the acoustic features of affricates are those appropriate to plosives and fricatives. Since,
however, the release stage is fricative, the most essential perceptual cues will be provided by the
transition between the preceding vowel and the plosive and by the explosive onset of the friction.
In phonetic terms, we may distinguish four affricates, two of them being post-alveolar /tr, dr/ and
other two being palato-alveolar /t , d∞/. They correspond to voiceless and voiced phonemes
respectively. They are considered to be single phonemic entities or sequences of two phonemes, in
which the second element will differ according to whether it occurs in the same syllable or
morpheme as the stop.
Moreover, these elements have possibilities of commutation. Thus, voiceless affricate /t / may be
combined within the same syllable in all positions, but the voiced affricate / d∞/ has more
restrictions owing to the rarity of syllable initial. On the other hand, /tr, dr/ have considerable
possibilities of commutation especially in the first element.
Regarding positional restrictions, in general, the four affricates may be distributed in syllable initial,
medial, and final. However, we may find some exceptions, thus the clusters /tr, dr/ lack occurences
in final position, and /d∞/ is restricted in init ial position.
5.4.1. Palato-alveolar affricates / t , d∞/.

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Affricates /t / and /d∞/ are called palato-alveolar because, being the soft palate raised and the nasal
resonator shut off, the obstacle to the air-stream is formed by a closure made between the tip, blade,
and rims of the tongue and the upper alveolar ridge and side teeth. At the same time, the front of the
tongue is raised towards the hard palate ready for the fricative release, and the air is released slowly
over the whole of the central surface of the tongue with friction occurring between the front region
of the tongue and the alveopalatal section of the roof of the mouth (figure 11).
In articulatory terms, during both stop and fricative stages, the vocal folds are wide apart for /t / as
in chin, which is considered to be voiceless (or fortis) as the vocal cords do not vibrate whereas
/d∞/, as in gin, is considered to be voiced (or lenis), as the vocal cords vibrate for all or part of it.
Regarding spelling, / t / is always spelt ch, tch, t + ure, eous, and t + ion when t is preceded by s
(i.e. chain, watch, nature, righteous, question) whereas /d∞/ is usually spelt j, g, dg, and sometimes
gg, dj, de, di, ch (i.e. jam, gem, midget, suggest, adjacent, grandeur, soldier, Norwich).
Regarding their voicing, and positional restrictions, we may note that fortis voiceless palato-alveolar
affricate /t /, which appears in all positions, when final in a syllable, has the same effect of
reducing the length of preceding sounds as was noted for voiceless bilabial plosives /p, t, k/ (i.e.
porch, much). Comparatively, full length of preceding sounds is retained before the lenis voiced
palato-alveolar /d∞/ (i.e. sponge, change). This phoneme appears in word initial (i.e. joke, jar);
word medial in intervocalic position (i.e. fragile, urgent) and with a consonant preceding (i.e.
danger, object); and also in word final position (i.e. age, judge, huge). No important variants of /t /
and /d∞/ occur, except in relation to the degree of lip-rounding used.
Spanish learners of English must take into account that the English phoneme /t / is slightly
different from Spanish. Thus, the first element is considered to be dental whereas in English it is
considered to be alveolar. As for /d∞/ is concerned, it does not exist in Spanish as an independent
phoneme. It occurs in initial position as a realization of “y” (i.e. yo, ya ). It also exists in Valencia in
words such as joven.
5.4.2. Post-alveolar affricates / tr, dr/.
Affricates /tr/ and /dr/ are called post-alveolar because, when the soft palate is raised and the nasal
resonator is shut off, the obstacle to the air-stream is formed by a closure made between the tip and
rims of the tongue and the rear edge of the upper alveolar ridge and the upper side teeth.
In articulatory terms, during the stop and fricative stages, the vocal folds are wide apart for /tr/
(voiceless) whereas in the case of /dr/ (voiced), voice is present throughout the affricate when
medial, but may be associated only with the fricative element when initial.
Regarding spelling, /tr/ is always spelt tr (i.e. track, try) but note the effect of vowel reduction to
schwa in words such as naturally, history, territory /tri/. On the other hand, /dr/ is spelt dr (i.e. dry,
dream) where the effect of vowel reduction is also noted (i.e. boundary, secondary). Regarding
their voicing, and positional restrictions, we may note that both of them may appear in initial and
medial position, but not in final position.
These two phonemes do not represent any difficulty for Spanish learners of English, but it is
advisable to approach the English RP /r/ through the affricate complexes /tr, dr/ by means of

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establishing the correct place of articulation. Thus, learners should articulate first the palato-alveolar
affricates / t , d∞/ and retract the tongue until suitable /tr, dr/ affricates are achieved.
5.5. English nasal consonants /m, n, ?/.
Regarding physiological features, the three nasal consonants (figure 12) are similar to stops /p, b, t,
d, k, g) in that there is comp lete closure of the articulators (i.e. lips, tongue with alveolar ridge, and
tongue with velum) but they differ from such plosives in that the soft palate is lowered, and
therefore, allows an escape of air into the nasal cavity, giving the sound the specia l resonance in the
naso-pharyngeal cavity. Moreover, the nasals are also similar to the fricatives in that they too are
continuants. In other words, they can be held so long as there is air in the lungs to release through
the nasal cavity. However, they differ from continuants such as fricatives in that no audible friction
is produced .
Therefore, regarding phonetic features, such as (1) force of articulation and (2) voicing, we must
note that nasals are usually voiced, without significant fortis/lenis or voiced/voiceless oppositions.
In many respects, they resemble vowel-type sounds, being normally frictionless continuants.
Regarding (3) place of articulation, they are classified according to the closure of articulators such
as lips, tongue, alveolar ridge, and velum. Thus, bilabial /m/ is articulated with the two lips; alveolar
/n/ is articulated with the tongue and alveolar ridge; and velar /?/ is articulated when the tongue
reaches the velum.
Regarding (4) length of preceding sounds, we must note that since they perform the syllabic
function of vowels, there is a lengthening of preceding sounds. However, within (5) positional
restrictions, we find that sometimes, we may hear a devoiced allophone of /m/ and /n/ whe n
voiceless consonant precede (i.e. smoke, chutney).
Neither of these sounds will cause much difficulty to most speakers as /m/ and /n/ occur in most
languages, including Spanish. Of the nasal consonants, velar /?/ is the one most likely to pose a
challenge to learners if there is not any allophone of /n/ plus a velar sound (k, g) in their language.
The main difference between the two phonological systems is the presence of the palatal ñ in
Spanish (i.e. España), which is absent in English.
5.5.1.

Bilabial nasal /m/ and alveolar nasal /n/.

Nasals /m/ and /n/ are called respectively bilabial and alveolar because, once the soft palate is
lowered for both, for /m/ the mouth is blocked by closing the two lips, and for /n/ by pressing the tip
of the tongue against the alveolar ridge, and the sides of the tongue against the sides of the palate.
Regarding spelling, /m/ is usually spelt m, mm (i.e. mother, hammer) and sometimes mb, mn (i.e.
climb, column). Similarly, /n/ is usually spelt n, nn (i.e. nobody, sunny), or kn, gn, pn (i.e. knife,
sign, pneumonia ).
In articulatory terms, both sounds are voiced in English, as they are in other languages, and the
voiced air passes out through the nose. Regarding positional restrictions, when /m/ or /n/ is found
before another consonant, the voiced or voiceless nature of the final consonant has an effect on the
length of both the vowel and the nasal consonant , and produce different allophones.

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Thus, when /m/ is followed by a labio-dental sound /f, v/, the front closure may be labio-dental
rather than bilabial (i.e. nymph, comfort, come first). Moreover, /m/ frequenty results in context
from a final /n/ of the isolate word form before a following bilabial (i.e. one mile /’w?n ‘mail/.
Sometimes /m/ is a realization of word final /? n/ or /n/ following /p/ or /b/ (i.e. happen /hæpm/ or
ribbon /ribm/, as an example of an assimilation process.
On the other hand, the articulation of /n/ is particularly liable to be influenced by that of the
following consonant. Thus, when followed by a labio-dental sound /f, v/ (i.e. infant, invoice), /n/
may be realized as a nasal /m/, overlapping its realizations with the /m/ phoneme. Moreover, /n/
before dental sounds /?, d/ is realized with a lingua-dental closure as in the words tenth, when they.
Before /r/, /n/ may have a post-alveolar contact, as in unrest, Henry. In addition, in context, word
final /n/ frequently assimilates to a following word initial bilabial or velar consonant, being realized
as /m/ or /velar /?/ (i.e. ten people, ten men; ten cups, ten girls).
It is worth noting that /n/ is often syllabic, that is, it occupies the place at the centre of the syllable
which usually is occupied by a vowel. Both the words written and lesson have two syllables though
the word may also be pronounced with or without the vowel before the /n/ /writn/ and /lesn/.
Similarly, in RP English people sometimes pronounce a syllabic /m/ in words like blossom or
rhythm, but more often they are pronounced with a vowel in between.
We find no important regional or social variants of /m/ and /n/ articulations , and therefore, foreign
learners of English should not find any difficulties with these two phonemes.
5.5.2.

Velar nasal /?/.

As previous velar phonemes (/k/ and /g/), this velar nasal sound is articulated when the back of the
tongue may rise to meet the velum, temporarily blocking the airflow from the lungs. The soft palate
is lowered and there is resonance of the nasal cavity to that of the pharynx and that small part of the
mouth chamber behind the velar closure.
Regarding spelling, /?/ is regularly spelt ng, or n followed by a letter indicating a velar consonant
(i.e. sing, sink, tongue, anxiety); also as a realization of French in words such as restaurant. It also
occurs after short vowels (i, æ, o, ? ), and rarely after /e/.
In articulatory terms, velar nasal /?/ is normally voiced, except for partial devoicing in the possible,
though less common, case of syllabic /n/ in such words as bacon or thicken. Regarding positional
restrictions, it is worth noting that it does not occur at the beginning of words in English, but it does
occur between vowels, where it is more difficult than in final position (i.e. word medial: hanger,
longing; word medial + /g/: finger, single ; word medial + /k/: banquet, monkey; word final: wrongs,
tongues; word final + /k/: sinks, monks; and finally, word final syllabic: bacon, taken. According to
O’Connor (1988), a usefu l general rule is that if the word is formed from a verb, no /g/ is
pronounced, as with singer, but if not, /g/ is pronounced, as in stronger, formed from the adjective
strong.
Worth mentioning variants of velar nasal /?/ are retained, instead of RP, in many regional types of
speech, notably in the Midlands and north of England, thus singing /si?gi?g/ for RP / si?i?/. Also, in
some forms of conservative RP, and regional speech, /?/ is a phoneme (sin, sing), merely
distinguished by the type of final nasal. Moreover, in popular London speech, velar nasal /?/ is
phonemic (sin, sing), and in the word –thing in compounds, it is often pronounced /-fi?k/.

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Foreign learners of English must be reminded to avoid putting in a /g/ after the /n/, and not to
pronounce /si? g? / instead of /si?? /. So the /g/ should be avoided if possible trying to make a firm
contact with the back of the tongue and force the air to go through the nose. Spanish learners of
English should not have any difficulties with this phoneme, as in Spanish it is an allophone of /n/
plus a velar consonant (i.e. flamenco).

5.6. Lateral consonant /l/.
Following Cerce-Murcia (2001), the phonemes /l/ and /r/ are considered to be two of the
pedagogically most challenging consonants in English due to all their allophones. It is worth
mentioning that both English lateral sound /l/ and the post-alveolar /r/ and their corresponding
allophones are usually voiced and frictionless falling into the same category of voiced continuants
as the nasals and, to a lesser extent, the semiconsonants /j/ and /w/. All these consonants are
included within the series of approximants, since, in their production, the airstream moves around
the tongue and out the mouth in a relatively ubobstructed manner.
In fact, lateral /l/ (or approximant) is produced laterally , that is, when the soft palate is raised, the
tongue tip, as well as the sides of the tongue-blade, are in firm contact with the alveolar ridge,
obstructing the centre of the mouth. Then, the airstream flows along the sides of the tongue as there
is an obstruction set up in the centre, and the air is released with no friction.
Regarding spelling, /l/ is regularly spelt l, ll (i.e. light, fill); and in post-vocalic positions it is,
however, frequently silent (i.e. talk, half, castle ).
The lateral /l/ has two allophones (figure 13), clear and dark /l/ (or also called light or velarized,
respectively). The clear [l] is formed when the air passes over one or both sides of the tongue with
the tip of the tongue touching the alveolar ridge, as in listen and lily. The dark [l] is formed by air
passing over the body of the tongue, which is bunched up in the velar area. In this allophone, the tip
of the tongue may or may not remain in contact with the alveolar ridge. Examples are bell and call.
With respect to voicing, both allophones are voiced, though partial devoicing may take place when
a preceding consonant is voiceless. Thus, the phoneme /l/, following accented (aspirated) /p, k/, and
in a lesser extent /s, f, ?, ?/, undergoes considerable devoicing.
Regarding positional restrictions, both allophones occur in every situation. However, clear [l]
occurs before vowels and the semi-consonant /j/ (i.e. leave, sailor, silly, fell it) whereas dark [l]
occurs after a vowel, before a consonant, and as a syllabic sound following a consonant (i.e. help,
alphabet, apple, whistling).
Moreover, dark [l] is conditioned by the place of articulation of the following consonant. Thus, it is
dentalized by a preceding /?, d/ (i.e. a month late, with love); post-alveolar in contact with /r/ (i.e.
already, ultra); and strongly nasalized when in contact with nasals (i.e. elm, kiln). The velarization
of dark [l] is drawn from the retracting or lowering of the preceding front vowel (i.e. feel, fell).
Regarding variants, the RP distribution of clear [l] and dark [l] may be said to be (1) variations in
the quality of the back vowel resonance for dark [l] found among RP speakers; (2) lip positions,
varying from neutral to loose rounding; (3) in Cockney speech, dark [l]is omitted, and is realized as
a vowel, thus sell /seo/ or table /teibo/. However, RP speakers will also use /o/ for dark [l] in words
where a consonant involving a labial articulation precedes (i.e. beautiful, careful, people ); (4)
finally, there are other varieties for RP distribution of /l/ allophones. Thus, some kinds of Scottish

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and American English, realized /l/ before vowels and /j/ with a back vowel resonance whereas in
Irish, English clear /l/ is used in those situations where RP would have dark [l].
Few foreign learners will possess in their own language the RP distribution between clear /l/ and
dark [l]. This phoneme does not cause any difficulties for Spanish students of English due to its
similarity to the Spanish phoneme /l/. However, students must be very careful to make a firm
contact of the tongue-tip and the sides of the blade with the alveolar ridge in order to produce a
lateral sound with the correct velarized quality.
5.7. Post-alveolar consonant /r/.
The voiced post-alveolar friction less continuant (or approximant) is the most common allophone of
RP /r/. This phoneme (figure 14) is produced when the tongue tip has a curved shape pointing
towards the hard palate at the back of the alveolar ridge, that is, near the alveopalatal area, but does
not touch the roof of the mouth. Therefore, since the soft palate is raised, voiced air flows quietly
between the tongue-tip and palate with no friction. Regarding spelling, /r/ is regularly spelt r,rr (i.e.
red, carry); and also wr, rh (i.e. write, rhythm).
Regarding voicing, as only one post-alveolar phoneme /r/ occurs in English, there being no
opposition between fortis and lenis, voiced and voiceless. This phoneme is defined as a voiced postalveolar consonant, frictionless, and continuant (or approximant) since, in its production, the
airstream moves around the tongue and out the mouth in a relatively ubobstructed manner. In RP,
post-alveolar /r/ is considered to be vowel-like, and RP speakers disapprove its pronunciation in
connected speech (Gimson 1980).
Regarding positional restrictions, the phoneme /r/ occurs in all positions. Thus, initial (i.e. rude,
road, royal); medial or intervocalic (i.e. very, hurry, arrive); and final (i.e. far away). Accordingly,
regarding its position within the word, different allophones are given. In initial position (1) before a
vowel, it functions as a consonant (i.e. red, right); (2) in medial position, it is phonetically vowellike, and we find the following allophones. Firstly, in intervocalic position, we find an alveolar tap
(i.e. very, sorry, forever), especially following other consonants, such /?, d/ (i.e. three, with respect),
and /b,g/ (i.e. bright, grow); secondly, a fricative /r/ in consonantal clusters, such as /tr/ and /dr/ (i.e.
try, dry); thirdly, a devoiced fricative in clusters formed by /p, t, k/ plus /r/ (i.e. expression, attract,
cry); and finally, a devoiced /r/ preceded by /s/ (i.e. shrink, sprint, street), and in words containing
more than one /r/ (i.e. brewery, library, treasure). (3) In word final, it is not pronounced, and
lengthens the preceding vowel. But, if it is in word final position and the following word starts by a
vowel, we find the linking /r/ (i.e. wear out), and also, an intrusive /r/, to be heard in the case of
schwa endings (i.e. the idea of).
Yet, RP retains word final post-vocalir /r/ as a linking form, when the following word begins with a
vowel, and it strongly encourages the creation of analogous links in similar phonetic contexts. As a
result, the present general tendency among RP speakers is to use intrusive /r/ links after final schwa,
even, unconsciously, among those who object most strongly. We may note that many RP speakers
consider intrusive /r/ as ‘an undesirable speech habit’ because of the use of a pause or glottal stop in
its production (i.e. poor Ann, winter evening ).
The phoneme /r/ is considered to have more phonetic variants than any other consonant in English.
Within RP, we may distinguish other variants or allophones, such as (1) a lingual roll, which may
also be heard amongst RP speakers, but usually only in highly stylized speech (i.e. in declamatory
verse-speaking). This roll is typical of both Scottish English and some Northern speech; (2) a

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uvular articulation, either a roll or a fricative, may be heard in the extreme north-east of England
and also among some Scottish speakers, and it is similar to French and German /r/; (3) and finally, a
retroflex /r/, common in the speech of the south-west of England and some American English.
Thus, in words such as bird, farm, lord, the retroflexion of the tongue may anticipate the consonant
and colour the vowel articulation.
Spanish learners of English must bear in mind that post-alveolar /r/ does not correspond to its
spelling counterparts in Spanish (i.e. r, rr as in comer, carro). In Spanish it corresponds to an
alveolar sound whereas in English it is post-alveolar. Moreover, the English /r/ may occur in all
positions whereas Spanish /rr/ never occur in initial or final position, so foreign learners must avoid
replacing this sound by the letter r in Spanish. Such sounds are perfectly understood by English
people, but of course they sound foreign.
5.8. English semi-consonants /j/ and /w/.
Generally speaking, semi-consonants /j/ and /w/ are defined as a quick, smooth, non-friction
vocalic -type glide towards the following syllabic sound. Despite the fact that semi-consonants are,
in phonetic terms, generally vocalic (hence they are also called semi-vowels or glides), they are
treated as consonants mainly because of their position within the syllable, being ma rginal rather
than central (i.e. yes, wood). Therefore, they have a consonantal function rather than vowel-like. In
fact, articles keep their preconsonantal form when followed by both semi-consonants.
The semi-consonant /j/ glides from the position of long and short /i/ to any other vowel whereas /w/
glides from long or short /u/. The glide depends on the nature of the following sound. Thus, /j/ may
be followed by a back close vowel (i.e. you), and /w/ by a front close vowel (i.e. woo). They take
part in the production of diphthongs and triphthongs.
Semi-consonants /j/ and /w/ occur initially or in an initial cluster preceding a syllabic sound. Their
consonantal function is emphasized by the fact that their allophones, when following a fortis
consonant, are voiceless and fricative (i.e. quiz, queue).
The main differences between English and Spanish refer to first, the place of articulation for /j/,
which in English is bilabial whereas in Spanish is velar, being /j/ palatal in both languages.
Secondly, spelling for /j/ in English is y, i (i.e. yes, spaniel) whereas for Spanish is y, ll (i.e. yo,
lluvia ). On the other hand, /w/ is considered as the vowel /u/ in Spanish, and spelt w, wh, q+u, g+u
in English (i.e. west, which, quick, language).
5.8.1.

Unrounded pala tal semi-consonant /j/.

This consonant is a quick glide from the position of the long or short /i/ to any other vowel. The lips
are generally neutral or spread, but may anticipate the lip-rounding of the following vowel when
articulated in the position for a front half-close to close vowel (i.e. you, yawn). It is usually spelt y, i
(i.e. yawn, spaniard), and also spelt u, ew, eu, eau, ui (i.e. muse, new, feud, beauty, suit).
Regarding voicing and positional restrictions, we find palatal /j/ in (1) word initial (i.e. yes, union,
year, Europe); (2) following accented /p, t, k, h/ only before long /u:/ or /u? / (i.e. queue, pure,
accuse, secure). We must note, then, that when /j/ follows voiceless consonants, it loses the voice
which it usually has, and is made voiceless, causing friction to be heard. So devoicing takes place,
especially when /j/ follows accented /p, t, k, h/, with the result of a voiceless palatal fricative (i.e.

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tune); (3) following voiceless fricatives or unaccented clusters, such as /sp, st, sk/, /j/ may be
slightly devoiced (i.e. spurious, stew, askew). However, we may find restrictions in the sequence
/h/+/j/ (i.e. Hugh, human, humour); and finally, (4) following voiced consonants (i.e. music, new,
onio, familiar).
Regarding variants, an alternative pronunciation without /j/ exists in American English. Earlier /ju:/
or /iu/ sequences have been reduced to /u:/ after affricates and post-alveolar /r/ and /l/ preceded by a
consonant. However, /ju:/ is retained after stops and nasals, fricatives /f,v/ and glottal /h/ (i.e. dune,
dune, few, view, huge). In unaccented syllables, there is variation between /j/+schwa and /i/+schwa.
In these cases, the latter tends to be retained in careful speech, as well as in those suffixes where
schwa has a separable morphemic value (i.e. easier, farmer).
In general, RP /j/ presents no difficulty provided that the starting point of the glide is not so close as
to produce friction in those situations where /j/ should be purely vocalic. Spanish learners, in
particular, should avoid using a palatal plosive when /j/ is strongly accented (i.e. yes, young ). Also,
palatal /j/ should be correctly devoiced after accented /p, t, k/ (i.e. pew, tune, queue).
5.8.2. Labio-velar semi-consonant /w/.
This consonant consists of a quick glide from long and short /u/ to whatever vowel follows. It is
much more difficult than palatal /j/ because many languages do not have an independent /w/. The
lips must be rounded quite firmly (i.e. wood, war) but may anticipate the lip-rounding of the
following vowel when articulated in the position for a back half-close to close vowel (i.e. you,
yawn). It is usually spelt w, wh, and also q, g+u (i.e. weather, why, queue, argue ). Note, however,
one, once, suite with /w/.
Regarding voicing and positional restrictions, we find labio-velar /w/ in (1) word initial (i.e. wet,
one, word, wear); (2) following accented /t, k/ the devoicing is complete (a voiceless labio-velar
fricative, being the friction bilabial); (3) following accented voiceless fricative /sk/ or unaccented
stops /p, t, k/, /w/ is slightly devoiced (i.e. square, upward, outward, take one); (4) we may also find
it in intervocalic position or following a voiced consonant (i.e. away, always, dwarf); and finally,
(5) it is possible to find the sequence /hw/ or /w/ (i.e. wheat, whether, what, white).
The main variant, both in RP and in other types of British English, concerns the pronunciation of
teh spelling form wh. Amongst careful RP speakers and regularly in several regional types of
speech (i.e. Scottish English), words such as when are pronounced with /hw/ or, more usually, as
the voiceless labio-velar fricative /w/. The use of it is often taught as the correct form in versespeaking but it has declined rapidly. Yet, some RP speakers omit /w/ in the context of back vowels
(i.e. quart /kot/ and quarter ).
In general, RP /j/ presents no difficulty for Spanish learners, but special attention must be paid not
to replace /w/ by a consonantal sound, either a voiced bilabial fricative, or a voic ed labio-dental
fricative, in which the lower lip articulates with the upper teeth, or also a labio-dental frictionless
continuant /r/, in which there is again a loose approximation, without friction, between the lower lip
and the upper teeth. Learners should round their lips to make clear distinctions between /w/ and its
allophones.
6. PRESENT-DAY DIRECTIONS IN PRONUNCIATION.
This section aims to provide the reader with an overview of newer techniques and resources
available in teaching second language pronunciation in a classroom setting. It is a fact that, since

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Spain joined the European Community, there have been important technological developments and
socioeconomic changes. Business, professional, cultural, and touristic reasons justify and favour
citizens’ mobility all around Europe. Therefore, a foreign language becomes at once an
indispensable tool to communicate at an international level.
Yet, two additional factors support the learning of a foreign language. Thus, firstly, the
development of communication technologies during the last decades, which have favoured
exchanges of information leaving behind physical barriers, and for which a foreign language is an
essential tool to communicate; and secondly, educational reasons. Yet, having a communicative
competence in a foreign language implies the possibility of getting to know other cultures, and
traditions, as well as promoting interpersonal relations. Hence, students may develop their own
personality, and also develop a sense of respect for other countries, people, and cultures.
The Council of Europe establishes a common European reference framework for the learning of
foreign languages. It claims that students are expected to carry out a series of communicative tasks
in order to progressively develop a successful communicative competence within social, personal,
professional, or educational fields at both written and oral levels.
In particular, Murcia Autonomous Community has been considered to be mainly monolingual until
recently. Nowadays, its socio-economic reality, regarding business, tourism, agriculture, and
industry within the European Community, justifies the necessity for Compulsory Secondary and
Bachillerato students to finish their studies with, at least, two different foreign languages apart from
their native language (RD 112/2002).
Then, this section aims to provide the reader with an overview of newer techniques and resources
available in teaching second language pronunciation in a classroom setting. Celce-Murcia (2001)
provides three guiding principles in moving beyond traditional teaching practices within the fields
of fluency and accuracy. Thus, multisensory mode of learning, the adaptation of authentic materia ls,
and the use of instructional technology, such as computers for students to practice efficient oral
communication.
Firstly, regarding fluency as a multisensory mode of learning, it aims at boosting students’
confidence level while promoting fluency. The Council of Europe envisages exchanges of language
assistants all ove r Europe in order to provide students with real speech and authentic input, and
avoid students retaining a marked foreign flavor in their speech because they are likely to acquire a
target accent.
Secondly, regarding the use of authentic materials in teaching pronunciation, it is said that, we must
not overlook the rich resources available through the use of authentic materials, such as anecdotes,
jokes, advertising copy, comic strips, passages from literature, and the like, that students can
exchange with their friends via Internet, chat, or e-mails. This modality is envisaged within
Comenius Projects which is intended to promote educational exchanges among students all over
Europe.
Finally, regarding the use of new technology, it is worth remembering that after the Audiolingual
Method, the use of language lab and instructional technology in general fell into disfavor as they
were considered to be tedious or unstimulating. Today the language lab is still around, often as a
multimedia environment with video viewing or computer work stations, laser disc players, satellite
receivers, and a host of other high-tech hardware items. These electronic aids are quite useful when
displaying speech patterns as they receive not only audio feedback but visual aids. Thus, the
viewing of a native-speaker lip positions in the production of consonant sounds, comparing pitch

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contour, or testing phoneme discrimination. Yet, in a sense, the rebirth of the language lab
represents a triumph of technology over method thanks to European programmes offered by the
Council of Europe, such as Plumier or Socrates.

7. CONCLUSION.
As can be seen from the preceding discussion, and following Cerce-Murcia (2001), the language
teaching profession changed positions many times with respect to the teaching of pronunciation.
Various methods and approaches placed this skill either at the forefront of instruction, as was the
case with Reform Movement practices and the Audiolingual/Oral Method, or in the back wings, as
with the Direct Method and naturalistic comprehension-based approaches, which operated under the
assumption that errors in pronunciation were part of the natural acquisition process and would
disappear as students gained in communicative proficiency. Other methods and approaches either
ignored pronunciation (Grammar Translation, reading-based approaches, and the Cognitive
Approach) or taught pronunciation through imitation and repetition (Direct Method), or through
imitation supported by analysis and linguistic information (Audiolingualism).
One decision that must be made when presenting consonants is how detailed the analysis will be.
For many second language students, a detailed description of the consonant inventory is
inappropriate whereas for advanced students focusing on pronunciation or for prospective nonnative
second language teachers, a comprehensive introduction is essential.
Many changes have taken place since Daniel Jones, the greatest phonetician of the present century,
used to wear out phonograph recordings by trying to place the needle at a particular spot so as to be
able to listen repeatedly to a piece of speech. But it was only with the development of the taperecorder in the 1940s, and, more recently, of the tape-repeater that there has been any breakthrough
in this field. It is difficult to imagine now what research into spoken language could be like without
such mechanical aids; so it is hardly surprising that earlier scholars paid so little attention to it
(Crystal 1985).
Native speakers of English from different parts of the world have different accents, but the
differences of accent are mainly the result of differences in the sound of the vowels; the consonants
are pronounced in very much the same way wherever English is spoken. So if the vowels you use
are imperfect it will not prevent you from being understood, but if the consonants are imperfect
there will be a great risk of misunderstanding. The consonants form the bones, the skeleton of
English words and give them their basic shape.
In dealing with the consonants you must first learn how each one is mainly distinguished from the
others, the features which it must have so that it will not be mistaken for any other consonant. Then
later you will learn about any special sounds of that phoneme which need small changes in their
formation in different circumstances, changes which are not essential if you simply want to be
understood, but which will make your English sound better.

8. BIBLIOGRAPHY.
Alcaraz, E., and B. Moody. Fonética inglesa para españoles. Teoría y práctica (2nd ed.). Gráficas
Díaz. Alicante.

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Algeo, J. and T. Pyles. 1982. The origins and development of the English language. Harcourt Brace
Jovanovich, Inc.
Celce-Murcia, M., Brinton, D., and M. Goodwin. 2001. Teaching Pronunciation, A Reference for
Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages. Cambridge University Press.
Crystal, D. 1985. Linguistics. Harmondsworth, England. Penguin Books.
Fernández, F. 1982. Historia de la lengua inglesa. Madrid: Gredos.
Gimson, A. C. 1980. An introduction to the pronunciation of English. Edward Arnold.
O’Connor, J.D. 1988. Better English Pronunciation. Cambridge University Press.
B.O.E. RD Nº 112/2002, de 13 de septiembre por e l que se establece el currículo de la Educación
Secundaria Obligatoria/Bachillerato en la Comunidad Autónoma de la Región de Murcia.
http://www.mec.es/sgpe/socrates/ccaa.htm

9. FIGURES.
Figure 1. The Speech Organs. Gimson (1980).

Figure 2. English consonants’ list.

Figure 3. Classification of English Consonant Phonemes.
CLASSIFICATION OF ENGLISH CONSONANTS

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PLACE OF ARTICULATION
MANNER OF
Bilabial Labio- Dental Alveolar
ARTICULATION*
dental
Plosives

p, b

Fricatives

t, d
f, v

?, d

h

t?, →

m

Lateral
Frictionless
Continuant (or
approximant)
Semi-consonants
(or glides)

?, ∞
tr, dr

m

?

l
r
w

j

* We must note that consonants are classified, when in pairs, as voiceless and voiced respectively, within their
articulatory description in the chart.

Figure 4. Bilabial plosives /p, b/.

Figure 5. Alveolar plosives /t, d/.

Figure 6. Velar plosives /k, g/.

Figure 7. Labio-dental fricatives /f, v/.

Figure 8. Dental fricatives / ?, d /.

Figure 9. Alveolar fricatives /s, z/.

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Glottal

k, g

s, z

Affricates
Nasals

PostPalato- Palatal Velar
alveolar alveolar

Figure 10. Palato- alveolar fricatives / , ∞/.

Figure 12. Nasals /m, n, ?/.
/m/

Figure 11. Affricates / t?, →/.

/n/

Figure 13. Clear and dark /l/.

/ ?/

Figure 14. Post-alveolar /r/.

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