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Language Development

About the Designers
What is language?
Theories of Language Development
The Pre-Linguistic Phase
Beginnings of Intentional Communication
Guidelines for Intentional Communication
Intentional Communication: why?
Four Main Aspects of Language
Aquiring Words
Errors In Word Learning
Fun Facts

What's in a sound?

We define speech sounds in terms of their descriptive features and use these features to classify the sound according to the source of the sound in the vocal tract and the shape of the vocal tract.
Speech sounds can be classified as either vowels or consonants.
Consonants: The air does not flow freely
Vowels: Lets air flow freely, shape of vocal tract is altered to create different sounds.
Consonants are classified by:
1) Voicing
2) Manner of production
3) Place of articulation
1)  Voiced vs. Unvoiced
Voiced: A voiced sound is when the vocal folds vibrate which feels like a buzzing sensation in the throat. Such sounds could be 'v' and 'z'.  These sounds can be either hummed or sung.
Example: Put your fingers on the front of your throat and say 'v'.
Unvoiced: Unvoiced sounds do not cause the vocal folds to vibrate, instead, the unvoiced sounds are produced typically by turbulence also know as airstream friction. This friction produces a hissing sound and is produced when air is forced through a small gap such as between the teeth and tongue. Such sounds include 'f' and 's'.
Example: Put your fingers on the front of your throat and say 'F' and then compare it to 'V'.
Feel the difference??
Here are some pairs of voiced/unvoiced sounds:
b/p, v/f, d/t, g/k, z/s.
2)  Manner of production
stops- air flow stopped completely ex: p, k, d
fricatives: flow restricted but not stopped ex: f, v, s
affricates: stop then fricative ex: ch, dj
glides: w, j
liquids: r, l
nasals: n, m
3)  Place of articulation
Bilabial: lips together: b, p, m
Labiodental: lip to teeth: f, v
Interdental: tongue between teeth: 'th' in that and 'th' in thin
Alveolar: tip of tongue on alveolar ridge: z, t, d
Palatal: tongue on palate: r, dj, gh
Velar: roll tongue to back of throat: k, ng (sing), g
Glottal: back bottom of throat: h


For a more detailed description of phonology and sounds click the link below. You can click on the tables and click the symbols to hear how each sounds. It is neat!

IPA Chart

Something very interesting is how children all share common phonological processes and errors. Ex: stopping, voicing, consonant cluster reduction, etc. To learn more about the errors and processes children go through, I highly encourage you to click the link below and take a look at a site by Caroline Bowen.

Caroline Bowen's site