In phonetics , consonant is any phoneme characterized by some obstruction or constriction in one or more points of the vocal tract . It derives from the consonant Latin , which literally means “sounding + with = consonant”, which describes another characteristic of consonants: they cannot appear alone in a syllable, as they must be accompanied by at least one vowel . This feature, however, is not valid for all sounds currently classified as consonants.
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The term consonant is also used to classify the letters of the alphabet, because of the sound they represent. In Portuguese alphabet , the consonants are called: B , C , D , F , G , J , K , L , M , N , P , Q , R , S , T , V , W , X , Z . The letter H is not properly named nor according tonor a vowel because it has no sound or noise and therefore it becomes the only diacritical letter . Depending on the original language of the word, W can be a consonant or vowel because it has a sound of / u / and / v / at the same time and Y can be considered a vowel because it has a sound of / i /.
Since the number of consonants in all human languages is much greater than the number of consonant letters in any alphabet, linguists adopt systems like the international phonetic alphabet to represent each consonant by a single symbol. Indeed, the Latin alphabet , used to write Portuguese, has fewer consonant letters than consonant sounds, and some letters represent more than one consonant.
Classification [ edit | edit source code ]
Each consonant can be distinguished in several ways:
- The mode of articulation is the method in which the consonant is articulated, such as nasal , occlusive or approximate , among others.
- The point of articulation is the place in the vocal tract where the consonant was articulated, such as bilabial , alveolar and velar . Additionally, there may be an influence of more than one point of articulation, such as palatalization and pharyngealization .
- The phonation mode is whether the vocal cords vibrate or not during the consonant articulation. If they vibrate, then the consonant is loud , otherwise it is deaf . The aspiration is also a feature of phonation.
- The mechanism of the air passage is how the air moves during the joint. Most languages have exclusively pulmonary consonants , but there are ejective , implosive and click consonants , which have different mechanisms.