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  1. #1
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    voiced sounds and unvoiced sounds

    I know that voiced sounds are followed by /z/, /d/ sounds, such as 'plays', 'played', while unvoiced sounds are followed by /s/, /t/ sounds, such as 'likes', 'liked'.
    And I hear voiced sounds are sounds made in your throat and unvoiced sounds are ones made in your mouth.
    However, I can't tell the difference between voiced and unvoiced.
    How can you tell one from the other? Is there an easy way to tell the difference? I hope someone will help me.

  2. #2
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Re: voiced sounds and unvoiced sounds

    Touch your throat when you say the sound- when it is voiced, you should be able to feel a vibration.

  3. #3
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    Re: voiced sounds and unvoiced sounds

    Thank you very much, tdol.
    Now I can tell the difference!!!

  4. #4
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    Re: voiced sounds and unvoiced sounds

    Japanese language doesn't have unvoiced sounds, you know, although there are some exceptions such as sh or ssh which means 'Be quiet'.
    We usually pronounce the word 'book' like 'booku' when we talk in Japanese.
    So it has been very difficult for me to understand what unvoiced sounds mean.
    Are there any other languages which are only consisted of voiced sounds?

  5. #5
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Re: voiced sounds and unvoiced sounds

    I'm honestly not sure- I'll try to find out, though.

  6. #6
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    Re: voiced sounds and unvoiced sounds

    Quote Originally Posted by Sstupid
    Japanese language doesn't have unvoiced sounds, you know, although there are some exceptions such as sh or ssh which means 'Be quiet'.
    We usually pronounce the word 'book' like 'booku' when we talk in Japanese.
    So it has been very difficult for me to understand what unvoiced sounds mean.
    Are there any other languages which are only consisted of voiced sounds?
    Japanese has voiceless/unvoiced sounds, but they are hard to pin down because Japanese is a syllabic language: Its segments are comprised of consonant-vowel pairs e.g, ka, ki, ku, ke, ko. All vowels are voiced in Japanese, so when the consonant and vowel are pronounced, the voiceless sound [k] seems voiced, but it's not. (It's called onset timing, by the way, or when the vocal folds get ready to produce the vowel just as the voiceless sound is being pronounced.)

    Here's a list of Japanese voiceless sounds:

    p, s, t, ts, sh, k, h

    By the way, voiced sound are made by vibrating the vocal folds, whereas voiceless sounds are made by not vibrating the folds. If your first language is a syllabic language, here's a trick to help you pin point the voiceless sounds: Say the segment "ku" as slowly as possible; try to separate the consonant from the vowel. It's not easy; it takes practice.

    Voiceless sounds in English are:

    f, p, s, t, sh, k, h

  7. #7
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    Re: voiced sounds and unvoiced sounds

    Thank you very much, Casiopea.
    Now I know about my native language a little better than before.

    But I still have a question.
    I completely agree with you when you say Japanese is a syllabic language:Its segments are comprised of consonant-vowel pairs. However, I disagree with you when you say p, s, t, ts, sh, k, h are Japanese voiceless sounds.
    Voiceless sounds are voiceless and not voiced. It is true in any languages.
    And yet I don't think Japanese language has pronunciation of voiceless sounds pronounced independantly except for sh. (I am not sure, though.)
    Can we say Japanese has voiceless sounds in such a case?

  8. #8
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    Re: voiced sounds and unvoiced sounds

    Quote Originally Posted by Sstupid
    I don't think Japanese language has pronunciation of voiceless sounds pronounced independantly except for sh. (I am not sure, though.)
    Can we say Japanese has voiceless sounds in such a case?
    In words like, say, shite (do), pronounced as shte, wherein the vowel is elided, or omitted is evidence of a process called palatalization. Both "sh" and "i" share the feature [high], or rather the same place of articulation, so the vowel's phonetic contribution is redundant. The same is true with a voiced initial consonant (e.g., zhite => zhte). Palatalization is a universal process. It's found in Russia, Portuguese, and many other languages, including Japanese.

    As for "Voicing", all human language, be they syllabic or not, have voiceless sounds. A distinction is made between voiced and voicless sounds, and Japanese is not an exception. They are called contrastive sounds (e.g., p and b, t and d, s and z, and so on). With syllabic languages, since the segments are consonant-vowel pairs, it's often the case that speakers will pre-voice the consonantal part of the segment in anticipation of the vowel part of that segment (i.e., onset timing). That is, vibration begins mid-way through the pronunciation of the voiceless consonant, making it appear as if the consonant is itself voiced. But that's not the reality of it, physiologically speaking. "t" is voicless, and we know this because it is contrastive:

    tai (party, company, band; sea bream)
    dai (subject, theme, title; stand, rest)

    If "t" were voiced, then "tai" and "dai" would be pronounced the same, and yet they are not, are they? "t" is voiceless and "d" is voiced. They are contrastive, and that's why we know they are different.

  9. #9
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    Re: voiced sounds and unvoiced sounds

    I am very much obliged to you for your kind explanation, Casiopea.
    Now I understand that sometimes the vowel's phonetic contibution is redundant because of palatalization, and that vibration begins mid-way through the pronunciation of the voiceless consonant, and so forth.
    I would like to say again, "Thank you very much for your help."

  10. #10
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    Re: voiced sounds and unvoiced sounds

    Quote Originally Posted by Sstupid
    I am very much obliged to you for your kind explanation, Casiopea.
    Now I understand that sometimes the vowel's phonetic contibution is redundant because of palatalization, and that vibration begins mid-way through the pronunciation of the voiceless consonant, and so forth.
    I would like to say again, "Thank you very much for your help."
    You're welcome.

    Gambatte!
    (ganbatte => gambatte; /n/ is pronounced [m] before [b]. It's called regressive assimilation. Both [m] and [b] are produced with the lips.)

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