Phonetics Labs

Analysis and research in articulatory and acoustic phonetics

The laboratory is multi-purpose in nature and is the focus for phonetics teaching, speech science and laboratory phonology research.

Acoustic phonetics

Acoustic phonetics is an area of phonetics which deals with physical characteristics of speech sounds made by the vocal tract heard by the ear or recognized by the brain. Acoustic phonetics deals specifically with the sounds that humans produce in any given spoken language. When humans speak, the source of sounds is the vocal cords are, and the mouth acts as a filter and filters the waves to create distinct waveforms that correspond with phonetic units of speech. A good example would be the production of vowel sounds. Vowel sounds are produced by positioning the mouth in a particular way to create specific combination of sound frequencies. It is a clinical study of properties like the amplitude of a waveform, its duration, and its fundamental frequency, etc. Sound waves from speech can be analyzed in terms of its acoustic properties. There are several computer software programs that are used for such study and research. Phoneticians depict and analyze sound waves using sophisticated speech analysis equipment and software.

Articulatory Phonetics

Articulatory phonetics is a sub-field of phonetics and is the study of how sounds are produced by the vocal apparatus or how the vocal tract is used to produce clear speech sounds. It involves careful examination of speech sounds, which are vowels and consonants.

In studying articulation, phoneticians explain how humans produce speech sounds via the interaction of different physiological structures.

Generally, articulatory phonetics is concerned with the transformation of aerodynamic energy into acoustic energy. Aerodynamic energy refers to the airflow through the vocal tract. Its potential form is air pressure; its kinetic form is the actual dynamic airflow. Acoustic energy is variation in the air pressure that can be represented as sound waves, which are then perceived by the human auditory system as sound

Auditory Phonetics

Auditory phonetics is a branch of phonetics concerned with the hearing and interpretation of speech sounds and speech perception.

Vowels and Consonants

Vowel sounds are characterized by being produced with a relatively open vocal tract because there is no obstruction to the flow of air from the lungs. Consonant sounds, in contrast, are generally created by pushing air through a small opening in the vocal tract or by building up air in the vocal tract, then releasing it.

Vowels dependent upon five main parameters that influence the shape of the oral cavity:

  1. tongue elevation
  2. position of tongue elevation
  3. shape of the lips
  4. position of the jaws
  5. length of vocalization

These letters are vowels in English: A, E, I, O, U, and sometimes Y. In British English, there are approximately 20 vowels.

Vowels are different from consonants in the sounds that they make and in the manner we use our mouths and lungs to make those sounds.

Consonants are basic speech sounds in which the breath is at least partly obstructed and which can be combined with a vowel to form a syllable.

They can be categorized into the following:

  1. plosives: sounds that cannot be sustained and which have a 'popping' quality, e.g. 'p' as in pea and 'b' as in boy
  2. nasals: sounds in which the escaping air passes through the nasal cavity, e.g. 'm' as in map and 'n' as in nap
  3. fricatives: as air exits through the mouth it forces its way through a narrowed gap (for example, by the tongue tip very nearly touching the gum ridge just behind the upper incisors) – this creates turbulence or friction, e.g. 's' as in so and 'f' as in fit
  4. affricates: these are 'combination' sounds that begin with a complete obstruction formed by the tongue tip contacting the gum ridge, just behind the upper incisors, before the air is released slowly with friction, e.g. 'ch' as in chop and 'j' as in jam
  5. approximants: a group of four sustainable sounds – 'w' as in we, 'r' as in red, 'l' as in let and 'y' as in you

In English there are approximately 24 consonants and these are arranged into five main groups

You can say the letters of the vowels without stopping the flow of air from your lungs as it comes out of your mouth. When you try to pronounce the consonants "T" or "K." you can feel the way the air has to stop coming out of your mouth in order to say these letters. One can hear friction when you say them.

But when you say the vowels, for example "A" or "U" you can see how the air flow from your mouth isn't stopped when you say these letters. They don't have the same sound of friction when you say them.

Phonetics and Speech Lab Equipment

Product Name Category
Auditory Feedback Tools Software
Sona-Speech II Software
Multi-Speech Software
Computer for CSL/Multi-Speech (HW) Hardware
Voice Range Profile (VRP) Program Software
Phonetic Database Software
Palatometer Database Software
Disordered Voice Database and Program Software
Computerized Speech Lab (CSL™) Hardware
Analysis-Synthesis Laboratory (ASL) Software
Multi-Dimensional Voice Program (MDVP) Software
Real-Time Pitch Software
Real-Time Spectrogram Software
Real-Time EGG Analysis Software
Motor Speech Profile Software
Signal Enhancement Program Software
Phonetic & Perception Simulation Programs Software
Respiration, Phonation and Prosody Simulation Software
Educational Bundle Software
Nasometer II Hardware
Phonatory Aerodynamic System Software
Airflow Head Software
Mask and Adapter (Reusable) Software
Visi-Pitch IV Software
Medical-Grade DVD Recorder Hardware
Isolation Transformer Hardware

For pricing or any technical information please email

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