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Irish Phonetics

I.— The Organs of Speech.

The lungs blow air through the windpipe into a cavity at the back of the mouth called the pharynx . Just before leaving the windpipe the air passes between the vocal chords, which may be relaxed and silent as they are in breathing, or may vibrate so as to produce voice. From the pharynx the air may pass over the tongue, between it and the soft palate, and out through the mouth ; or, it may pass up behind the soft palate and out by the nostrils. It is while flowing from the pharynx through one or both of these passages that the voice, and the voiceless currents of air are moulded into the various vowel arid consonant sounds. There is, however, one written sound that is articulated by the vocal chords themselves.

II.— The Aspirate.

If air from the lungs is blown silently over the relaxed vocal chords, and, while the current continues, the chords are suddenly drawn into position for vibration, the transition from a silent to a sounding breath of air gives the aspirate. Similarly, if the vocal chords are in vibration, and, while the air current continues, are suddenly relaxed, we have a final aspirate or h sound. As this is an important and fundamental point, it is as well to realise it fully. In pronouncing the word awe the first step is to put the vocal chords under proper tension for vibration. A column of air is then played on them, so that the moment it starts the chords begin to vibrate, and voice is produced. This voice is, as we shall see afterwards, moulded by the mouth into the vowel sound awe. In pronouncing the word haw, the stream of air is first set up, and flows for a moment over the relaxed vocal chords : then the chords are drawn into position, and the vowel sound follows.




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Irish phonetics - Rev. M. O'Flanagan - 1904