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In
phonetics Phonetics is a branch of linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of language. Linguistics encompasses the analysis of every aspect of lang ...

phonetics
and
phonology Phonology is a branch of linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of language. Linguistics encompasses the analysis of every aspect of lan ...

phonology
, a sonorant or resonant is a
speech sound In phonetics and linguistics, a phone is any distinct speech sound or gesture, regardless of whether the exact sound is critical to the meanings of words. In contrast, a phoneme is a speech sound in a given language that, if swapped with another ph ...
that is
produced
produced
with continuous, non-turbulent airflow in the
vocal tract The vocal tract is the cavity in human bodies and in animals where the sound produced at the sound source (larynx in mammals; syrinx (biology), syrinx in birds) is filtered. In birds it consists of the Vertebrate trachea, trachea, the Syrinx (bio ...
; these are the manners of articulation that are most often
voiced Voice or voicing is a term used in phonetics Phonetics is a branch of that studies how humans produce and perceive sounds, or in the case of s, the equivalent aspects of sign. Phoneticians—linguists who specialize in phonetics—study th ...
in the world's languages.
Vowel A vowel is a syllabicSyllabic may refer to: *Syllable, a unit of speech sound, considered the building block of words **Syllabic consonant, a consonant that forms the nucleus of a syllable *Syllabary, writing system using symbols for syllables ...

Vowel
s are sonorants, as are nasals like and ,
liquids A liquid is a nearly incompressible In fluid mechanics or more generally continuum mechanics, incompressible flow (isochoric process, isochoric flow) refers to a fluid flow, flow in which the material density is constant within a fluid par ...
like and , and
semivowel In phonetics Phonetics is a branch of that studies how humans produce and perceive sounds, or in the case of s, the equivalent aspects of sign. Phoneticians—linguists who specialize in phonetics—study the physical properties of speech. T ...
s like and . This set of sounds contrasts with the
obstruentsAn obstruent is a speech sound such as , , or that is manner of articulation, formed by ''obstructing'' airflow. Obstruents contrast with sonorants, which have no such obstruction and so resonate. All obstruents are consonants, but sonorants include ...
( stops,
affricate An affricate is a consonant In articulatory phonetics, a consonant is a speech sound that is articulated with complete or partial closure of the vocal tract. Examples are , pronounced with the lips; , pronounced with the front of the tongue; , pr ...
s and
fricative Fricatives are consonants manner of articulation, produced by forcing air through a narrow channel made by placing two Place of articulation, articulators close together. These may be the lower lip against the upper teeth, in the case of ; the bac ...
s). For some authors, only the term ''resonant'' is used with this broader meaning, while ''sonorant'' is restricted to consonants, referring to nasals and liquids but not
vocoid A vowel is a syllabicSyllabic may refer to: *Syllable, a unit of speech sound, considered the building block of words **Syllabic consonant, a consonant that forms the nucleus of a syllable *Syllabary, writing system using symbols for syllables ...
s (vowels and semivowels).


Types

Whereas
obstruentAn obstruent () is a speech sound such as , , or that is formed by ''obstructing'' airflow. Obstruents contrast with sonorant In phonetics and phonology, a sonorant or resonant is a speech sound that is manner of articulation, produced with continuo ...
s are frequently
voiceless In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of linguistic analysis include ...

voiceless
, sonorants are almost always voiced. A typical sonorant consonant inventory found in many languages comprises the following: two nasals , two
semivowel In phonetics Phonetics is a branch of that studies how humans produce and perceive sounds, or in the case of s, the equivalent aspects of sign. Phoneticians—linguists who specialize in phonetics—study the physical properties of speech. T ...
s , and two
liquids A liquid is a nearly incompressible In fluid mechanics or more generally continuum mechanics, incompressible flow (isochoric process, isochoric flow) refers to a fluid flow, flow in which the material density is constant within a fluid par ...
. In the
sonority hierarchy A sonority hierarchy or sonority scale is a hierarchical ranking of speech sounds (or phones). Sonority is loosely defined as the loudness of speech sounds relative to other sounds of the same pitch, length and stress, therefore sonority is ofte ...
, all sounds higher than
fricative Fricatives are consonants manner of articulation, produced by forcing air through a narrow channel made by placing two Place of articulation, articulators close together. These may be the lower lip against the upper teeth, in the case of ; the bac ...
s are sonorants. They can therefore form the
nucleus ''Nucleus'' (plural nuclei) is a Latin word for the seed inside a fruit. It most often refers to: *Atomic nucleus, the very dense central region of an atom *Cell nucleus, a central organelle of a eukaryotic cell, containing most of the cell's DNA ...
of a
syllable A syllable is a unit of organization for a sequence of speech sounds. It is typically made up of a syllable nucleus (most often a vowel A vowel is a Syllable, syllabic speech sound pronounced without any stricture in the vocal tract. Vowels a ...

syllable
in languages that place that distinction at that level of sonority; see
Syllable A syllable is a unit of organization for a sequence of speech sounds. It is typically made up of a syllable nucleus (most often a vowel A vowel is a Syllable, syllabic speech sound pronounced without any stricture in the vocal tract. Vowels a ...

Syllable
for details. Sonorants contrast with
obstruentsAn obstruent is a speech sound such as , , or that is manner of articulation, formed by ''obstructing'' airflow. Obstruents contrast with sonorants, which have no such obstruction and so resonate. All obstruents are consonants, but sonorants include ...
, which do stop or cause turbulence in the airflow. The latter group includes
fricative Fricatives are consonants manner of articulation, produced by forcing air through a narrow channel made by placing two Place of articulation, articulators close together. These may be the lower lip against the upper teeth, in the case of ; the bac ...
s and stops (for example, and ). Among consonants pronounced in the back of the mouth or in the throat, the distinction between an
approximant Approximants are speech sounds that involve the articulators approaching each other but not narrowly enough nor with enough articulatory precision to create turbulent airflow. Therefore, approximants fall between fricatives Fricatives are conso ...
and a voiced fricative is so blurred that no language is known to contrast them. Thus,
uvular Uvulars are consonant In articulatory phonetics, a consonant is a speech sound that is articulated with complete or partial closure of the vocal tract. Examples are , pronounced with the lips; , pronounced with the front of the tongue; , pronounc ...
, pharyngeal, and glottal fricatives never contrast with approximants.


Voiceless

Voiceless sonorants are rare; they occur as
phoneme In phonology and linguistics, a phoneme is a unit of sound that distinguishes one word from another in a particular language. For example, in most List of dialects of English, dialects of English, with the notable exception of the West Midlan ...
s in only about 5% of the world's languages. They tend to be extremely quiet and difficult to recognise, even for those people whose language have them. In every case of a voiceless sonorant occurring, there is a contrasting voiced sonorant. In other words, whenever a language contains a phoneme such as , it also contains a corresponding voiced phoneme such as . Voiceless sonorants are most common around the
Pacific Ocean The Pacific Ocean is the largest and deepest of Earth Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only astronomical object known to harbour and support life. 29.2% of Earth's surface is land consisting of continents and islands. ...

Pacific Ocean
(in
Oceania Oceania (, , ) is a geographic region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of science devoted to the study of the lands, features, inhabitants, and phenomena of the Eart ...

Oceania
,
East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia, which is defined in both Geography, geographical and culture, ethno-cultural terms. The modern State (polity), states of East Asia include China, Japan, Mongolia, North Korea, South Korea, and Taiwan. ...

East Asia
, and
North North is one of the four compass points The points of the compass are the vectors by which planet A planet is an astronomical body orbiting a star or Stellar evolution#Stellar remnants, stellar remnant that is massive enough to be Hydro ...

North
and
South America South America is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven geographical regions are commonly regarded as continent ...

South America
) and in certain language families (such as
Austronesian Austronesian may refer to: *The Austronesian languages *The historical Austronesian peoples who carried Austronesian languages on their migrations {{disambiguation ...
,
Sino-Tibetan Sino-Tibetan, also known as Trans-Himalayan in a few sources, is a family of more than 400 languages, second only to Indo-European in number of native speakers. The vast majority of these are the 1.3 billion native speakers of Chinese languages ...

Sino-Tibetan
,
Na-Dene Na-Dene (; also Nadene, Na-Dené, Athabaskan–Eyak–Tlingit, Tlina–Dene) is a family In human society A society is a Social group, group of individuals involved in persistent Social relation, social interaction, or a large social g ...

Na-Dene
and Eskimo–Aleut). One European language with voiceless sonorants is
Welsh Welsh may refer to: Related to Wales * Welsh, referring or related to Wales * Welsh language, a Brittonic Celtic language of the Indo-European language family, indigenous to the British Isles, spoken in Wales ** Patagonian Welsh, a dialect of Wels ...
. Its
phonology Phonology is a branch of linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of language. Linguistics encompasses the analysis of every aspect of lan ...
contains a phonemic
voiceless alveolar trill
voiceless alveolar trill
, along with three voiceless nasals: velar, alveolar and labial. Another European language with voiceless sonorants is
Icelandic Icelandic refers to anything of, from, or related to Iceland and may refer to: *Icelandic people *Icelandic language *Icelandic alphabet *Icelandic cuisine See also

* Icelander (disambiguation) * Icelandic Airlines, a predecessor of Icelandai ...
, with ̥ r̥ n̥ m̥ ɲ̊ ŋ̊for the corresponding voiced sonorants r n m ɲ ŋ Voiceless and possibly are hypothesized to have occurred in various dialects of
Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language Greek ( el, label=Modern Greek Modern Greek (, , or , ''Kiní Neoellinikí Glóssa''), generally referred to by speakers simply as Greek (, ), refers collectively to the diale ...
. The Attic dialect of the
Classical periodClassical period may refer to: *Classical Greece, specifically of the 5th and 4th centuries BC *Classical antiquity, in the Greco-Roman world *Classical India, an historic period of India (c. 322 BC - c. 550 CE) *Classical period (music), in music ...
likely had as the regular allophone of at the beginning of words and possibly when it was doubled inside words. Hence, many English words from Ancient Greek roots have ''rh'' initially and ''rrh'' medially: ''
rhetoric Rhetoric () is the Art (skill), art of persuasion, which along with grammar and logic (or dialectic – see Martianus Capella), is one of the Trivium, three ancient arts of discourse. Rhetoric aims to study the techniques writers or sp ...
'', ''
diarrhea Diarrhea, also spelled diarrhoea, is the condition of having at least three loose, liquid, or watery defecation, bowel movements each day. It often lasts for a few days and can result in dehydration due to fluid loss. Signs of dehydration of ...
''.


Examples

English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which has eventually become the World language, leading lan ...
has the following sonorant consonantal phonemes: .
Old Irish Old Irish (''Goídelc''; ga, Sean-Ghaeilge; gd, Seann Ghàidhlig; gv, Shenn Yernish or ; Old Irish: ᚌᚑᚔᚇᚓᚂᚉ), sometimes called Old Gaelic, is the oldest form of the Goidelic The Goidelic or Gaelic languages ( ga, teangacha ...
had one of the most complex sonorant systems recorded in linguistics, with 12 coronal sonorants alone.
Coronal Coronal may refer to: * a nuptial crown * anything relating to a Corona (disambiguation), corona * Coronal plane, an anatomical term of location * The Commonly used terms of relationship and comparison in dentistry, coronal direction on a tooth * Co ...
laterals, nasals, and rhotics had a fortis–lenis and a palatalization contrast: . There were also and , making 16 sonorant phonemes in total.


Sound changes

Voiceless sonorants have a strong tendency to either revoice or undergo
fortition Fortition, also known as strengthening, is a consonantal change that increases the degree of stricture. It's the opposite of the more common lenition. For example, a fricative or an approximant may become a stop consonant, stop (i.e. becomes o ...
, for example to form a
fricative Fricatives are consonants manner of articulation, produced by forcing air through a narrow channel made by placing two Place of articulation, articulators close together. These may be the lower lip against the upper teeth, in the case of ; the bac ...
like or . In connected, continuous speech in
North American English North American English (NAmE, NAE) is the most generalized variety Variety may refer to: Science and technology Mathematics * Algebraic variety, the set of solutions of a system of polynomial equations * Variety (universal algebra), classes ...
, and are usually
flapped
flapped
to following sonorants, including vowels, when followed by a vowel or syllabic .


See also

*
List of phonetics topics A * Acoustic phonetics Acoustic phonetics is a subfield of phonetics Phonetics is a branch of linguistics that studies how humans produce and perceive sounds, or in the case of sign languages, the equivalent aspects of sign. Phoneticians ...
*
ObstruentAn obstruent () is a speech sound such as , , or that is formed by ''obstructing'' airflow. Obstruents contrast with sonorant In phonetics and phonology, a sonorant or resonant is a speech sound that is manner of articulation, produced with continuo ...
*
Continuant In phonetics Phonetics is a branch of linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of language. Linguistics encompasses the analysis of ever ...
*
Liquid consonant In phonetics Phonetics is a branch of that studies how humans produce and perceive sounds, or in the case of s, the equivalent aspects of sign. Phoneticians—linguists who specialize in phonetics—study the physical properties of speech. Th ...


References


Bibliography

* {{Authority control Manner of articulation