Monday, October 3, 2016

More Fun with Phonics! Part II

Last look, labials (I couldn't resist).

In my last post, I talked about how sounds come in pairs.  The two plosive labials that I talked about last time are B and P--plosive because of the interrupted air flow, and bilabial because the sound involves both your lips.

Two more paired sounds are M and N.

When you make these two similar sounds, you mouth actually should be very different in shape: the N moves your tongue to the top of your mouth, but the M forces your lips together.

Both letters are classified as nasal sounds, resonating through your nose.  This causes a reverberation through the nasal cavity.  Typically, in Western Culture, overly nasal sounds are associated with congestion--and as an extrapolation, either ill health or nerdiness.  Take the name Marvin Martin.  Or Newman.  These names can be difficult to say without some sort of implication of a skinny, wimpy child with over-sized glasses and a book about entomology.  Or a character from Seinfeld.

An extra, weird thing: because M and B and P use both lips, all three of these letters are classified as bilabials.  B and P are very different because of the interruption of flow (making the sound more violent, more plosive), and the M is more, well, nasally.

One more weird point: we write words and say sentences.  How aware are you of how these sounds have subtle uses and power?

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