Producing Sounds – How we make Sounds
When we form words, we must make the necessary sounds that are in those words. The various sounds that we must make to pronounce the words depend on;
- If the sound is voiced or unvoiced (if the sound is formed in the throat or in the mouth)
- The way the air comes out of our nose or mouth
- The shape of our mouth and position of our tongue
Producing Sounds – Voiced Sounds or Unvoiced Sounds
If you put your hand to your throat as you are speaking and you feel a vibration that means the air is flowing past your vocal chords. The sounds made this way are referred to as voiced sounds. If the word is not formed in the throat but further up in the mouth, the vocal chords do not vibrate. These sounds are referred to as unvoiced sounds.
Some sounds require your mouth and your lips to be in the same position, the only difference being voiced or unvoiced. (See below)
Oral or Nasal Sounds
When we speak, we expel air. When the air comes out of our mouth, that is considered an oral sound, but sometimes the air comes out our nose, and is considered a nasal sound. Some languages have a large number of nasal sounds that are used, but in English, our sounds are produced with air escaping from our mouth, but there are a few exceptions such as /m/ and /n/.
The Shape of our Mouth.
The position of our tongue, tip high or low, back of tongue up towards the roof of our mouth or flat on the bottom, and where it touches our teeth causes the sounds that we make to be different. The position of our lips and jaw as well as the type of air flow. stopped or continuous, also causes differences in the sounds that we make.
Voiced and Unvoiced Sounds
Voiced sounds are formed when the air passes by the vocal chords and causes them to vibrate. If the sound is made without the vibration of the vocal chords, then the sound is Unvoiced.
It is important for you to be able to produce both voiced and unvoiced sounds, and to be able to feel the difference between them. By putting your fingers to the side of your neck you will be able to feel the vibration if the sound you are making is voiced.
Some sounds are made with the lips and tongue in the same position and the only difference is the vibration or non-vibration of the vocal chords.
At the top of each of your practice sheets, where I describe how to make the various sounds, I have marked the sounds as being voiced or unvoiced.
Important; Many pronunciation mistakes are made because the speaker is substituting voiced sounds for unvoiced, or unvoiced for voiced.
Notice in the chart below we have a list of Unvoiced sounds on the left and the matching list of voiced sounds on the right.