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Department of Linguistics


Articulation of Oral Stops

Robert Mannell

During the articulation of the oral stops the following sequence of events occurs:-

  1. The velum closes, blocking off the flow of air to the nasal tract
  2. The oral tract is closed at the place of articulation. This is the start of the stop occlusion.
  3. During the occlusion air continues to be expelled from the lungs but has nowhere to go as the oral tract is completely closed. As a consequence, the air pressure builds up. (This would not be possible if the velum was not closed.)
  4. The oral closure is released at the place of articulation by moving the active articulator away from the passive articulator. This is the end of the stop occlusion.
  5. Immediately upon the release of the oral closure the pressurised air bursts out through the initially narrow opening creating turbulence and thus noise. This is the stop burst.
  6. The active articulator continues to move towards its target for the next phoneme. The velum is free to open now, unless this is prevented by the requirements of the next phoneme.

In the following diagrams the position of the articulators is shown during the stop occlusion.

Figure 1: Articulation of bilabial oral stops.

Figure 2: Articulation of apico-dental oral stops.

Figure 3: Articulation of alveolar oral stops.

Figure 4: Articulation of retroflex oral stops.

Figure 5: Articulation of palatal oral stops.

Figure 6: Articulation of velar oral stops.

Figure 7: Articulation of uvular oral stops.