Home > 8. The Dragons of Grammar, 9. The Alphabet & Redefining Intelligence > Breaking the Code: Points of Articulation & the DoGs

Breaking the Code: Points of Articulation & the DoGs

File:Places of articulation.svg

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The Dragons of Grammar are willing, if tempted with Etruscan Salamis and other treats, to admit that they have been somewhat remiss since the coronation of Queen Margot and the Queen’s subsequent visits to her new realm: RT suspects that they have been lazing in the summer sun, glad of the opportunity to forget about the perplexities and passionate battles  occasioned by their love of language. But the responsibilities inherent in their choice of a royal form of government cannot be shirked forever: the Queen has been reminding them of their duty to improve dragon-human relations, and how better to do that than help humans gain a better grasp of the language they use? And after all, they did choose one of them to occupy the draconien throne.

For his part, RT, who will stipulate to a certain (current) lack of interest in the study of languages, will accept any help he can get in this matter. But he is also happy to add that speech is an intensely personal and even intimate activity in humans, involving as it does an effort that starts in our lungs and makes it way up into (as can be seen from the diagram) a rather intricate vocal apparatus. Dragonish, however, is a more remote and formal affair, considering the large size of dragons, their propensity to argue and spew verbal-fire at each other, and whatnot.

But on with the matter at hand, which happens to be the points of articulation. Doing his best to simplify matters, RT will say that a point of articulation is the place in the vocal tract where we obstruct the flow of air out of the lungs in order to produce a consonant. RT at this juncture will only add that the glossary below decodes linguistic nomenclature.

Here is the list of the 18 points, with a brief translation of each term:

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English: Places of articulation (active and passive)
  1. Exo-labial   (outer part of lip)
  2. Endo-labial   (inner part of lip)
  3. Dental   (teeth)
  4. Alveolar   (front part of alveolar ridge)
  5. Post-alveolar   (rear part of alveolar ridge & slightly behind it)
  6. Pre-palatal   (front part of hard palate that arches upward)
  7. Palatal   (hard palate)
  8. Velar   (soft palate)
  9. Uvular (a.k.a. Post-velar; uvula)
  10. Pharyngeal   (pharyngeal wall)
  11. Glottal   (a.k.a. Laryngeal; vocal folds)
  12. Epiglottal   (epiglottis)
  13. Radical   (tongue root)
  14. Postero-dorsal   (back of tongue body)
  15. Antero-dorsal   (front of tongue body)
  16. Laminal   (tongue blade)
  17. Apical   (apex or tongue tip)
  18. Sub-laminal   (a.k.a. Sub-apical; underside of tongue)

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and after this post, RT is feeling a bit more dragonish & inspired to post on grammar again!

Diagram: Sagittal Section w/ Points of Articulation. Sagittal section image based on Minifie et al. (1973); articulation places are from Catford (1977). Author: Ishwar; svg by Rohieb. WikiCmns; CC 2.5 Generic.

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  1. August 16, 2013 at 8:56 am

    ‘smazin’ they don’t all pile up like sharp edged bones, those consonantal drifts. Squeakin’ an’ gruntin’ all rushin’ to get out to daylight, dressed in their finest vowels…

    • August 17, 2013 at 5:47 am

      shl: hey, i thought dropping all those “g”s was an american thing!! aw, well, maybe cockney drops them too… RT

      • August 18, 2013 at 9:58 am

        Hard to think of a dialect that doesn’t diss the ‘g’s…. Except my own: the peculiarities of the English Midlands’ accent, particularly in some areas of that region, tends to emphasise the ‘g’ ending, and even adds one where it is lacking!

        Thus (posh voice, please) : “I believe I shall look through the garage and the garden….”
        Becomes:
        Royt, aarkid, oil luke fruwuh the garridge(uh) anduh the gaaarding(uh)….

        All a matter of how we treat ellipsis of sounds, I suppose…

  1. September 22, 2013 at 3:06 am

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