Part One: Phonology

Phonology is the section of linguistics preoccupied with language sounds. It is notated with the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA). I will talk predominately about the system of the IPA because for language creators it is the most important part of phonology.

The first and largest chart of the IPA is the pulmonic consonant chart. The columns of the chart are the places of articulation (POA). It begins from the front of the mouth with the lips and goes back in the mouth ending with the glottis. In some columns, there are two letters, like Bilabial [p] and [b]. This indicates there is a voicing pair, voiced on the right and voiceless on the left. The rows of the chart are the manners of articulation (MOA). These indicate how a sound is produced secondarily to its place. A plosive, for instance, is a sound that requires a buildup and sudden release of air. This air was blocked by the lips or tongue at a POA.

The second chart of the IPA is the non-pulmonic consonant chart. The difference between pulmonic and non-pulmonic consonants is that pulmonic consonants require the lungs, whereas non-pulmonic consonants do not. To demonstrate how these sound, say to yourself the words “Topeka” and “Bodega” while holding your breath. “Topeka” will produce ejectives, and “Bodega” will create implosives. Clicks are simply, well, clicking sounds.

The third and final (for this article) chart of the IPA is the vowel chart. This chart, unlike the others, is no simple square or rectangle. Rather, it is a map of the inside of a human mouth. From the top going down is how open the mouth is, from almost completely closed at the top to almost entirely open at the bottom. From side to side is where the tongue is in relation to the lips. At the far right, the tongue is far back in the mouth, and at the far left, it is near the front of the mouth. Most of these vowels come in pairs, like the consonants. Instead of a voicing distinction, the distinction here is based on rounding. On the left is the unrounded vowel, and on the left is the rounded vowel.

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