By Parviz Birjandi and Mohammad Ali Salmani-Nodoushan
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Additional resources for An Introduction to Phonetics
The term "palate" by itself usually refers to the hard palate. Soft palate/velum is the soft portion of the roof of the mouth, lying behind the hard palate. The velum can also move: if it lowers, it creates an opening that allows air to flow out through the nose; if it stays raised, the opening is blocked, and no air can flow through the nose. Uvula is the small, dangly thing at the back of the soft palate. The uvula vibrates during the /r/ sound in many French dialects. Pharynx is the cavity between the root of the tongue and the walls of the upper throat.
The /j/ sound in yes is the clearest example of a palatal sound in RP. You can feel the fricative sound being forced between the tongue and the very top of your mouth. The blade of the tongue touches the hard palate to articulate palatal sounds. Earliest accounts of phonetics also classified affricates as being palatal. Today, however, they are considered to be palatoalveolar rather than palatal per se. Still, there are some phoneticians who prefer the older classification. 5. THE SOFT PALATE (VELUM) The soft palate is toward the back of the mouth.
Try it yourself. Say the /f/ in fin /fɪn/, the /θ/ in thin /θɪn/ and the /ʃ/ in shin /ʃɪn/. You should be able to feel the turbulence created by the sounds. It is possible to maintain a fricative sound for as long as your breath holds out. This is very different from a plosive sound. Other fricatives include the /v/ in van, the /s/ in sin, the /h/ in hat /hæt/, the /ð/ in that /ðæt/, the /z/ in zoo /zu:/ and the /Ʒ/ sound in genre /ˈʒɑ:nrə/. Fricative consonants result from a narrowing of the speech canal that does not achieve the full closure characteristic of the occlusives.