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Terms in phonetics

affricate

noun

a sound used in speech that is like the ‘ch’ sound in ‘church’ or the ‘j’ sound in ‘judge’

alveolar

noun

a consonant sound such as ‘l’, ‘d’, ‘n’, or ‘t’, made with the tongue touching the skin behind your top front teeth

aspirate

verb

to breathe out air while pronouncing a sound, for example the ‘h’ in ‘hat’

aspirate

noun

a sound produced while breathing out air, for example the sound of the ‘h’ in ‘hat’

aspiration

noun

the sound produced when you pronounce something by breathing air out through your mouth

assonance

noun

the repeating of sounds in words that are close together, especially in poetry, for example ‘I tried to light the fire’

bilabial

adjective

a bilabial sound is one that you produce using both lips, for example the sound of ‘m’ or ‘p’

closed syllable

noun

a syllable that has a consonant at its end

close vowel

noun

a vowel sound made with your tongue near the top of your mouth

consonant

noun

a speech sound made by stopping all or some of the air going out of your mouth

devoice

verb

to pronounce a vowel or consonant without passing air over your vocal cords

diphthong

noun

a sound consisting of one or two vowels that is the combination of two sounds said one after the other. The vowel sounds in the words ‘find’ and ‘fail’ are diphthongs.

elision

noun

the practice of leaving a sound out when you say a word or group of words, for example when you say it quickly in ordinary conversation

fricative

noun

a speech sound that is made by pushing air out through a small space between your teeth and your tongue or lips, or between your tongue and palate (=the inside upper part of your mouth). ‘F’, ‘z’, and ‘th’ are fricatives.

front

adjective

a front vowel is made in the front part of your mouth

glottal

adjective

a glottal sound is one that you make in speaking when you partly or completely stop air as it passes through the throat

glottal

noun

a glottal stop

glottal stop

noun

a sound made by stopping air as it passes through your throat. In some varieties of spoken English a glottal stop is often used instead of a ‘t’ sound in the middle or at the end of a word.

grapheme

noun

a written letter, group of letters, number, or symbol that represents a single sound in speech

hiatus

noun

a pause between two vowel sounds that come one after the other, for example in the word naive

intonation

noun

the way in which your voice rises or falls when you speak

IPA

noun

International Phonetic Alphabet: a system of symbols used for representing speech sounds

labial

adjective

labial sounds are ones that you pronounce with your lips closed or close together or with your top teeth touching your bottom lip. ‘p’, ‘b’ , ‘f’, ‘v’, and ‘m’ are labial sounds

labial

noun

a sound that you pronounce with your lips closed or close together or with your top teeth touching your bottom lip, for example ‘p’, ‘b’, ‘f’, ‘v’, or ‘m’

labiodental

noun

a sound pronounced with the top teeth touching the bottom lip, for example ‘f’ and ‘v’

labiovelar

noun

a sound pronounced with the lips and upper back part of your mouth, for example ‘w’

liquid

noun

the sound ‘l’ or ‘r’

long

adjective

a long vowel is a vowel that is pronounced for a longer time than most other vowels

mute

adjective

a letter that is mute is not pronounced

nasal

noun

a speech sound such as ‘m’ or ‘n’ that is produced mainly through your nose

open vowel

noun

a vowel that you pronounce with your tongue on the bottom of your mouth

palatal

adjective

if you pronounce a sound that is palatal, especially a consonant, you pronounce it by moving your tongue near or against the hard palate

phoneme

noun

an individual speech sound that makes one word different from another. For example, the ‘b’ and ‘f’ in ‘bill’ and ‘fill’.

phonemics

noun

the study of the phonemes of a language

phonetic

adjective

relating to the sounds used in speech

phonetic

adjective

using special symbols as a way of showing speech sounds in writing

phonetic

adjective

relating to the science of phonetics

phonetics

noun

the study of the sounds used in speech

phonic

adjective

relating to the sounds used in speech, or to the study of these sounds

phonology

noun

the study of the pattern of speech sounds used in a particular language

phonology

noun

the pattern of speech sounds used in a particular language

plosive

noun

a sound that you make by quickly stopping your breath leaving your mouth and then suddenly letting it go again. The sounds ‘k’, ‘p’, and ‘t’ are plosives.

primary stress

noun

the strongest emphasis that you give to a particular syllable when you say a word. Primary stress is marked ˈ in this dictionary.

retroflex

adjective

pronounced with the end of your tongue bent backwards

schwa

noun

a vowel sound used in unstressed syllables, for example the sound of ‘a’ in ‘above’. Its symbol is ə.

secondary stress

noun

the second strongest emphasis on a part of a word or sentence

semi-vowel

noun

a speech sound that is sometimes pronounced as a vowel but is considered to be a consonant, for example ‘y’

short

adjective

a short vowel or syllable is one that you pronounce quickly

sibilant

adjective

making a sound like the letters ‘s’ or ‘sh’

sibilant

noun

one of the sibilant speech sounds, for example ‘s’ or ‘sh’

silent

adjective

a silent letter is a letter in a word that has no sound when you say the word but that must be used when the word is spelled or written

stress

verb

to pronounce a particular word or syllable (=part of a word) more loudly or with greater force than other words or syllables

stressed

adjective

a stressed word or syllable (=part of a word) is pronounced more loudly or with greater force than other words or syllables

stress mark

noun

a mark that shows which part of a word is pronounced with most emphasis

syllabic consonant

noun

a consonant sound which forms a syllable on its own, for example the second syllable of the word ‘garden’ when the schwa sound is not pronounced

syllable

noun

a word or a part of a word that has only one vowel sound. For example ‘son’ has one syllable and ‘father’ has two syllables.

tone

noun

the degree to which the sound of a word or part of a word is high or low

unstressed

adjective

an unstressed word or syllable (=part of a word) is pronounced more quietly or with less force than other words or syllables

unvoiced

adjective

an unvoiced sound is produced without using your vocal cords. In English, ‘/t/’, ‘/s/’, and ‘/f/’ are unvoiced sounds.

uvular

noun

a consonant sound made when the back of your tongue touches your uvula

vocalic

adjective

relating to vowels, or consisting of a vowel

voiced

adjective

voiced sounds are produced by passing air over your vocal cords

voiceless

adjective

voiceless sounds are produced without passing air over your vocal cords

vowel

noun

a sound that you make when you speak without closing your mouth or throat

weak

adjective

a weak word, or a weak part of a word, is not emphasized when you say the word

bilabial

noun

fricative

adjective

labiodental

adjective

labiovelar

adjective

phonemic

adjective

phonetically

adverb

phonological

adjective

plosive

adjective

uvular

adjective

pre-roll

a video advertisement that appears immediately before an online video

BuzzWord Article

Open Dictionary

breakfast rave

a rave … that takes place early in the morning and where there is no alcohol or drugs …

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