Consonant is a sound of noise, which is formed by complete or incomplete obstruction.
There are three general principles of consonant articulation:
1. an obstacle (преграда) is created in one of the supra-laryngal cavities.
2. the muscular tension is concentrated in the place of obstruction.
3. the air stream is stronger than in articulating of vowels.
Each phoneme possesses specific features which distinguish it from the other phoneme of the same language. There are 24 vowels in English.
The most important points of consonant formation are the manner and the place of articulation. The place of articulation is composed of two important points:
1) the articulating organ
2) the passive speech organ
According to the articulating organ, we distinguish the following types of consonants:
a) labial, which may be:
- bilabial, articulated by both of lips (p, b, m, w)
- labio-dental, articulated by means of the lower lip with the upper teeth (f, v)
b) lingual are subdivided into:
- fore-lingual, which include apical (t, d, tʃ, dʒ, ʃ,ʒ, s, z, n, l), dorsal, cacuminal (r).
Apical consonants are articulated by the tip of the tongue having a contact with the teeth or the teeth-ridge. In the articulation of the cacuminal consonant, the tip of the tongue has a contact with the teeth ridge and the fore part of the hard palate.
-back-lingual (k, g, ŋ)
According to the passive speech organ, they may be:
a) dental ( there are no in English. In Russian, they are: с – с`, з – з`, т – т`, д – д`), but there are interdental consonants in English.
b) alveolar ( t, d, s, z, h)
c) palatal (j, tʃ, dʒ, ʃ,ʒ)
d) velar (k, g, ŋ).
According to the presence of voice, they may be voiced and voiceless. Pairs of voiced and voiceless consonants are met in alternations having grammatical or lexical functions.
F.ex. t-d send – sent
Consonant alternation is used in word-formation, in distinguishing different parts of speech:
s-z use – to use
f-v life – to live
Not all the consonants are free in their distribution. The phoneme (w, r, n, j) are used at the beginning of the syllable, while the h-phoneme is only at the end of syllable.
The consonant alternation θ – ð is used in the plural of nouns:
Baθ – baðzMauθ – mauðzAlso, it is used for distinguishing a noun from a verb.
A mouth – to mouth [ð]