Crash Course Linguistics 8 (Phonetics - Consonants)

What are we doing when we make sounds?

Week 8’s Crash Course Linguistics video explores the consonant sounds of language and the symbols we use to represent them.

Topics include manner and place of articulation for consonants, and how the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) is used to write sounds from the world's spoken languages, with a brief mention of the articulatory contrasts used in signed languages. This video does not provide a comprehensive introduction to the IPA, but a general summary of why it is structured the way it is. In this week's Thought Bubble, we learn about the origins of the IPA.

If you’re covering the IPA in an online course, you’ll surely need a clickable IPA chart for your students to explore. For additional examples of consonant sounds that may be new for many students, check out this 2-minute video about clicks in Khoekhoe. Computer-generated closed captions are available in English.

Learning about sounds can involve a lot of terminology, and The Ling Space has some video resources that review this terminology in more detail. Take a look at Places and Manners of Articulation for pulmonic consonants, and a separate video about Non-Pulmonic Consonants. These videos have closed captions available in English and other languages, and the above link for pulmonic consonants includes a brief written summary of the video as well as additional information about IPA diacritics.

For a light, conversational introduction to the IPA, listen to the 35-minute Lingthusiasm episode All the sounds in all the languages. This episode is available wherever you prefer to find podcasts, and a transcript is available here.

The United Kingdom Linguistics Olympiad practice exercise C or V? ask solvers to distinguish letters from sounds, and consonant sounds from vowel sounds. Answers and helpful prompts for instructors are available at the end of the linked file. For direct practice with IPA consonant symbols, check out this Sporcle quiz.

Finally, see the Resource Guide we shared in the spring for more interactive charts, videos, and activities relevant to consonants in IPA, as well as a past newsletter with video resources about articulatory phonetics.

Coming next week: more resources about phonetics, focusing instead on vowels!

Liz, Gretchen, and Lauren

About Mutual Intelligibility

Mutual Intelligibility is a project to connect linguistics instructors with online resources, especially as so much teaching is shifting quickly online due to current events. It's produced by Lauren Gawne and Gretchen McCulloch, with the support of our patrons on Lingthusiasm. Our editor is Liz McCullough.

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For the 16 weeks of Crash Course Linguistics, Mutual Intelligibility will be sharing the video weekly, along with supporting resources. We will resume our regular link request and recommendations after the Crash Course Linguistics series. For more on how we usually operate, check out our about page.

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