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Social Sci LibreTexts

2.7: Classifying Vowels

  • Page ID
    9637
  • Vowels are made without an obstruction in the vocal tract, so they are quite sonorous. The body of the tongue moves in the mouth to shape each vowel, and for some vowels, the lips are rounded as well. Linguists classify vowels according to four pieces of information: tongue height, tongue backness, lip rounding, and tenseness.
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    Check Yourself

    1. What is the articulatory description for the vowel sound represented by the IPA symbol [i]?

    • High front unrounded tense vowel.
    • Mid central unrounded lax reduced vowel.
    • High front unrounded lax vowel.
    • High back rounded tense vowel.
    • High back unrounded lax vowel.

    2. What is the articulatory description for the vowel sound represented by the IPA symbol [ɛ]?

    • High back rounded tense vowel.
    • Mid front unrounded lax vowel.
    • Mid back rounded tense vowel.
    • High front unrounded tense vowel.
    • Mid central unrounded lax vowel.

    3. What is the articulatory description for the vowel sound represented by the IPA symbol [ɑ]?

    • High front unrounded tense vowel.
    • Mid back unrounded lax vowel.
    • Low back unrounded lax vowel.
    • Mid back rounded tense vowel.
    • Low back unrounded tense vowel.