Posted 1 hour ago


We’ve heard that “no means no,” but no actually comes in evolving shapes, as we learn in Lessons in Expression and Physical Drill by Darien A. Straw, 1892.

Posted 3 hours ago


Representation of Speech in the Brain, Part 1.
ECog studies by Chang Lab at Berkeley.

Posted 5 hours ago


With five distinct kinds of clicks, multiple tones and strident vowels — vocalized with a quick choking sound — the Taa language, spoken by a few thousand people in Botswana and Namibia, is believed by most linguists to have the largest sound inventory of any tongue in the world.

The exact count differs among scholars. Studies commonly cite more than 100 consonants, and some say there are as many as 164 consonants and 44 vowels. English, by comparison, has about 45 sounds at its disposal, total.

Taa, also known as !Xoon, is part of the Khoisan language group, spoken in the Kalahari Desert and hardly anywhere else. All Khoisan languages use click consonants, which were featured in the hit 1980 film “The Gods Must Be Crazy.”

Source: Which Language Uses the Most Sounds? Click 5 Times for the Answer

It’s very interesting article.

Posted 7 hours ago



Somebody else has probably already shared this on tumblr, but it’s too useful to not share again. This site has a “talking” IPA chart! Just click on any individual symbol, and a voice will read it to you.

Source: The University of Victoria

Posted 9 hours ago

Explainer: Why the human voice is so versatile


How the voice is produced

Voice production can be thought of as a source-filter model. The voice is a combination of a vibrating source that controls its amplitude and pitch (the five tones in the example above), and an acoustic filter that controls how it sounds, much like how you can shape the sound with a graphic equaliser on a sound system.

The source is the vibrating vocal folds situated in the larynx. The filter is the airway that runs from the vocal folds to the lips or nostrils, which we call the vocal tract.

In the above image, the larynx (voice box) comprises the epiglottis to the cricoid cartilage. The thyroid cartilage tends to protrude from the neck in men and is called the Adam’s apple.

Source: controlling pitch and amplitude

The vocal folds are two flaps of flesh that vibrate around 100-300 times per second (Hz) in speech.

The widely used name “vocal cords” came about from French anatomist Antoine Ferrein’s analogy that the air acted like a bow playing the strings (cordes in French) of the viola da gamba, or even a feather plucking the strings of a harpsicord.

While these analogies aren’t very accurate, understanding the physics of vocal fold motion is still an active area of research, since experiments are so difficult. Observing the vocal folds is possible but not always practical. We can look at them but only from above – and even that isn’t very comfortable.

Posted 12 hours ago


Most common consonant in European languages.

Posted 14 hours ago
Posted 16 hours ago
Posted 18 hours ago


How do our throats work to make different kinds of sounds? What different settings for our vocal folds do we have? In this week’s episode, we talk about phonation and glottal states: how air interacts with our anatomy to create waves, what settings we have besides voiced, voiceless, and closed completely, and how these other settings, breathy and creaky voice, are used across languages. And how they’re all totally fine and cool!

It’s always fun to talk about phonetics, and to wade into the creaky voice debate. Looking forward to hearing what people have to say. ^_^

Posted 20 hours ago

The Fascinating Art of Whistled Speech | CNRS News


“Instead of relying on the vibration of the vocal chords as a sound source, whistled speech uses the compressed, turbulent air flow that forms vortices in the region of the lips. Just as in ordinary—or in scientific parlance, modal—speech, the tongue and jaw form words, but their movements are more constrained so as to maintain the pressure required for whistling.”

Posted 22 hours ago
Topic day # 87: Phonetics II

Topic day # 87: Phonetics II

Posted 1 day ago


My anthro teacher unironically calls premodern Europe a, and I quote, “cultural backwater.”