Area Of Study On Types Of Phonetics English Language Essay

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In phonetics a flap or tap is a type of consonantal sound, which is produced with a single contraction of the muscles so that one articulator (such as the tongue) is thrown against another

Contrast with stops and trills

The main difference between a flap and a stop consonant is that in a flap, there is no buildup of air pressure behind the place of articulation, and consequently no release burst. Otherwise a flap is similar to a brief stop.

Flaps also contrast with trills, where the airstream causes the articulator to vibrate. Trills may be realized as a single contact, like a flap, but are variable, whereas a flap is limited to a single contact.

[edit] Tap vs. flap

Many linguists use the terms tap and flap indiscriminately. Peter Ladefoged proposed for a while that it might be useful to distinguish between them. However, his usage was inconsistent, contradicting itself even between different editions of the same text[1]. One proposed version of the distinction was that a tap strikes its point of contact directly, as a very brief plosive, whereas a flap strikes the point of contact tangentially: "Flaps are most typically made by retracting the tongue tip behind the alveolar ridge and moving it forward so that it strikes the ridge in passing." Later, however, he no longer felt this to be a useful distinction, and preferred the term flap in all cases[2]. For linguists that do make the distinction, the coronal tap is transcribed as a fish-hook ar, [ɾ], while the flap is transcribed as a small capital dee, [ᴅ], which is not recognized by the IPA. Otherwise alveolars are typically called taps, and other articulations flaps. No language contrasts a tap and a flap at the same place of articulation.

[edit] IPA symbols

The flap and tap consonants identified by the International Phonetic Alphabet are:









alveolar tap

North American English





alveolar lateral flap






retroflex flap


dupa (?)



labiodental flap




The IPA recommends that for other flaps, a homorganic consonant, such as a stop or trill, should be used with a breve diacritic:

Tap or Flaps: where no independent symbol for a tap is provided, the breve diacritic should be used, e.g. [ʀ̆] or [n̆]


Main article: Alveolar

Spanish features a good illustration of an alveolar flap, contrasting it with a trill: pero /peɾo/ "but" vs. perro /pero/ "dog". Among the Germanic languages, this allophone occurs in American English and in Northern Low Saxon. In American English it tends to be an allophone of intervocalic /t/ (as in "butter," "later," "fattest" and "total"). In a number of Low Saxon dialects it occurs as an allophone of intervocalic /d/ or /t/; e.g. bäden /beeden/ → [ˈbeːɾn] 'to pray', 'to request', gah to Bedde! /gaa tou bede/ → [ˌɡɑːtoʊˈbeɾe] 'go to bed!', Water /vaater/ → [ˈvɑːɾɜ] 'water', Vadder /fater/ → [ˈfaɾɜ] 'father'. (In some dialects this has resulted in reanalysis and a shift to /r/; thus bären [ˈbeːrn], to Berre [toʊˈbere], Warer [ˈvɑːrÉœ], Varrer [ˈfarÉœ].) Occurrence varies; in some Low Saxon dialects it affects both /t/ and /d/, while in others it affects only /d/. Other languages with this are Portuguese, Korean, and Austronesian languages with /r/.

[edit] Retroflex flaps

Most Indic and Dravidian languages have retroflex flaps. In Hindi there are three, a simple retroflex flap as in [bɐɽɑː] big, a murmured retroflex flap as in [koɽʱiː] leper, and a retroflex nasal flap in the Hindicized pronunciation of Sanskrit [mɐɽ̃i] ruby. Some of these may be allophonic.

A retroflex flap is also common in Norwegian dialects and some Swedish dialects.

[edit] Lateral flaps

Lateral flaps may be more common than much of the literature would lead one to believe. Many of the languages of Africa, Asia, and the Pacific that don't distinguish [r] from [l] may have a lateral flap, but this is generally missed by European linguists, who often aren't familiar with the sound.

However, it is also possible that many of these languages do not have a lateral-central contrast at all, so that even a consistently neutral articulation may be perceived as sometimes lateral [ɺ] or [l], sometimes central [ɾ]. This has been suggested to be the case for Japanese, for example.

The Iwaidja language of Australia has both alveolar and retroflex lateral flaps, and perhaps a palatal lateral flap as well. (However, the latter is rare and may be a palatalized alveolar lateral flap rather than a separate phoneme.) These contrast with lateral approximants at the same positions, as well as a central retroflex flap [ɽ], alveolar trill [r], and retroflex approximant [ɻ].

A velar lateral flap may exist as an allophone in a few languages of New Guinea.

The retroflex lateral flap does not have an officially recognized symbol in the IPA. However, an ad hoc symbol based on the alveolar lateral flap may occasionally be seen:

Such derived symbols are becoming more frequent now that font-editing software is widely accessible. Note that besides not being sanctioned by the IPA, there is no Unicode value for it. However, the retroflex lateral flap may be written in Unicode-compliant fashion as a digraph of the alveolar lateral flap [ɺ] with the right-tail diacritic, [ɺ̢].

The palatal and velar lateral flaps may be represented with a short diacritic over the letter for the homorganic approximant, although the diacritic would need to appear under the palatal due to its ascender: [ʎ̯, ʟ̆].

[edit] Non-rhotic flaps

The only common non-rhotic flap is the labiodental flap, found throughout central Africa in languages such as Margi. In 2005, the IPA adopted a right-hook v,

for this sound. (Supported by some fonts: [ⱱ].) Previously, it had been transcribed with the use of the breve diacritic, [v̆], or other ad hoc symbols.

Other flaps are much less common. They include a bilabial flap in Banda, which may be an allophone of the labiodental flap, and a velar lateral flap as an allophone in Kanite and Melpa. These are often transcribed with the breve diacritic, as [w̆, ʟ̆]. Note here that, like a velar trill, a central velar flap or tap is not possible because the tongue and soft palate cannot move together easily enough to produce a sound.

If other flaps are found, the breve diacritic could be used to represent them, but would more properly be combined with the symbol for the corresponding voiced plosive. A palatal or uvular flap, which unlike a velar flap is believed to be articulatorily possible, could be represented this way (by *[ɟ̆, ɢ̆~ʀ̆]).

Vocal Range

Vocal range is the measure of the breadth of pitches that a human voice can phonate. Although the study of vocal range has little practical application in terms of speech, it is a topic of study within linguistics, phonetics, and speech and language pathology, particularly in relation to the study of tonal languages and certain types of vocal disorders. However, the most common application of the term "vocal range" is within the context of singing, where it is used as one of the major defining characteristics for classifying singing s into groups known as voice types

While the broadest definition of vocal range is simply the span from the lowest to the highest note a particular voice can produce, this broad definition is often not what is meant when "vocal range" is discussed in the context of singing. Vocal pedagogists tend to define the vocal range as the total span of "musically useful" pitches that a singer can produce. This is because some of the notes a voice can produce may not be considered usable by the singer within performance for various reasons.[2] For example, within opera all singers must project over an orchestra without the aid of a microphone. An opera singer would therefore only be able to include the notes that they are able to adequately project over an orchestra within their vocal range. In contrast, a pop artist could include notes that could be heard with the aid of a microphone.

Another factor to consider is the use of different forms of vocal production. The human voice is capable of producing sounds using different physiological processes within the larynx. These different forms of voice production are known as vocal registers. While the exact number and definition of vocal registers is a controversial topic within the field of singing, the sciences identify only four registers: the whistle register, the falsetto register, the modal register, and the vocal fry register. Typically, only the usable range of the modal register, the register used in normal speech and most singing, is used when determining vocal range. However, there are some instances where other vocal registers are included.[1] For example, within opera, countertenors utilize falsetto often and coloratura sopranos utilize the whistle register frequently. These voice types would therefore include the notes from these other registers within their vocal range. Another example would be a male doo-wop singer who might quite regularly deploy his falsetto pitches in performance and thus include them in determining his range. However, in most cases only the usable pitches within the modal register are included when determining a singer's vocal range.

Vocal Range and Voice Classification

Vocal range plays such an important role in classifying singing voices into voice types that sometimes the two terms are confused with one another. A voice type is a particular kind of human singing voice perceived as having certain identifying qualities or characteristics; vocal range being only one of those characteristics. Other factors are vocal weight, vocal tessitura, vocal timbre, vocal transition points, physical characteristics, speech level, scientific testing, and vocal registration. All of these factors combined are used to categorize a singer's voice into a particular kind of singing voice or voice type.[3]

There are a plethora of different voice types used by vocal pedagogists today in a variety of voice classification systems. Most of these types, however, are sub-types that fall under seven different major voice categories that are for the most part acknowledged across all of the major voice classification systems. Women are typically divided into three groups: soprano, mezzo-soprano, and contralto. Men are usually divided into four groups: countertenor, tenor, baritone, and bass. When considering the pre-pubescent voices of children an eighth term, treble, can be applied. Within each of these major categories there are several sub-categories that identify specific vocal qualities like coloratura facility and vocal weight to differentiate between voices.[1]

Vocal range itself can not determine a singer's voice type. While each voice type does have a general vocal range associated with it, human singing voices may possess vocal ranges that encompass more than one voice type or are in between the typical ranges of two voice types. Therefore, voice teachers only use vocal range as one factor in classifying a singer's voice.[2] More important than range in voice classification is tessitura, or where the voice is most comfortable singing, and vocal timbre, or the characteristic sound of the singing voice.[1] For example, a female singer may have a vocal range that encompasses the high notes of a mezzo-soprano and the low notes of a soprano. A voice teacher would therefore look to see whether or not the singer were more comfortable singing up higher or singing lower. If the singer were more comfortable singing higher than the teacher would probably classify her as a soprano and if the singer were more comfortable singing lower than they would probably classify her as a mezzo-soprano. The teacher would also listen to the sound of the voice. Sopranos tend to have a lighter and less rich vocal sound than a mezzo-soprano. A voice teacher, however, would never classify a singer in more than one voice type, regardless of the size of their vocal range.[2]

The following are the general vocal ranges associated with each voice type using scientific pitch notation where middle C=C4. Some singers within these voice types may be able to sing somewhat higher or lower[


The term coarticulation in its general sense refers to the influence of a speech sound during another adjacent or nearby speech sound. There are two types of coarticulation. Anticipatory coarticulation, when a feature of a speech sound is anticipated (assumed) during the production of a preceding speech sound. Carryover coarticulation, when the effects of a sound are seen during the production of sound(s) that follow. Many models have been developed to account for coarticulation. They include (the look-in phonetics refers to two different phenomena:

the assimilation of the place of articulation of one speech sound to that of an adjacent speech sound. For example, while the sound /n/ of English normally has an alveolar place of articulation, in the word tenth it is pronounced with a dental place of articulation because the following sound, /θ/, is dental.

the production of a co-articulated consonant, that is, a consonant with two simultaneous places of articulation. An example of such a sound is the voiceless labial-velar plosive /k͡p/ found in many West African languages

ahead, articulatory syllable, time-locked, coproduction, the window and articulatory phonology).