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zompist bboard • View topic - Question about vocal cords/voicing

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 31, 2016 9:58 pm 
Sanci
Sanci

Joined: Sat Apr 23, 2016 4:55 pm
Posts: 26
Can anyone solve this conundrum for me? When it comes to linguistics, let's just say "I'm still learning" (euphemism for very ignorant...)

It's my understanding that a speech sound becomes voiced if the vocal folds are relatively relaxed, yet constricted in a way that the glottis (opening) is narrower. ...How can this be? Don't folds become more tense and tight as the opening becomes smaller? Isn't that how the space between them is decreased (by constriction, hence tightening)?


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 07, 2016 5:35 pm 
Lebom
Lebom
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Joined: Sun Jan 03, 2010 6:09 pm
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Location: Merseyside, England, UK
My understanding of it is that the vocal folds are apart when the laryngeal muscles are relaxed, so that only voiceless sounds can be produced. Maybe it's also possible to hold them further apart by contracting some of the muscles, I don't know. But at the other extreme, if the glottis is held firmly closed then air simply can't pass through, and you have a glottal stop. Voicing happens when the glottis is held closed, but not with too much force, so that a sufficiently high air pressure below can force the glottis into its open state. After the glottis opens, air can pass into the oral tract, so the pressure below decreases and the muscles are able to hold the glottis closed again. But as more air comes up from the lungs, pressure will increase again and the cycle repeats, and this is how the vibrations that we call voicing are produced. So voicing is a kind of intermediate value on the glottal-closure scale.

You can also have breathy voice, where the tension in the glottis is less than it is for regular (modal) voice, so that pressure needs to decrease further for the muscles to be able to close the glottis and the vibrations are slower. And likewise, you can have creaky voice, where the tension in the glottis is greater than it is for modal voice, so that pressure needs to increase further for the glottis to be forced open; this again results in slower vibrations. At least one language (Jalapa Mazatec) distinguishes all three kinds of voicing phonemically on its vowels (it also distinguishes nasalization, so that a given vowel quality has six phonemes associated with it).

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 09, 2016 8:48 pm 
Sanci
Sanci

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Thank you, that helped a lot!


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