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On Phonology.

I’ve been sitting in a cafe (Bauhaus Books & Coffee in Capitol Hill) for over two hours now reading about phonetics and phonology.  I’ve read about affricates, fricatives, bilabial and labiodental consonants, stops, glides, liquids, and nasals.  Did you know that what separates one vowel sound from another depends upon how high or low you place your tongue, how far forward or far back in your mouth it is, how tense or how relaxed the muscles are, and to what degree of roundness your lips are?

I think what I’ve gotten from all this is one simple thing: if we had to think about what we were doing when we tried to speak, no one would ever say anything at all.


Now, excuse me while I go continue becoming an expert on just where your tongue should touch your teeth (only done to form consonants, never vowels, of course), and if you want to have a conversation today, forget everything I just told you about how your letters and sounds are formed, or, you might just find yourself, literally, tongue tied today.

One Comment Post a comment
  1. Stephen #

    I love phonology! Some of my friends studied COMD (Communication Disorders) and got me interest in voicing, aspiration, plosives, fricatives, diphthongs, and glottal stops. Having a grasp on phonology will really help you with your Arabic pronunciation (e.g., hearing the difference between ذ (‘dh’, voiced) and ظ (‘th’, aspirated)). I can’t wait!

    Maybe you’ll learn enough to diagnose my inability to roll my r’s. I know I’m supposed to place the tip of my tongue near the alveolar ridge and blowing out a junkload of air, but, so far, no dice.

    PS: This might come in handy:

    October 2, 2007

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