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By Parviz Birjandi and Mohammad Ali Salmani-Nodoushan

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In its minimal form, a syllable consists of a vowel. In addition to the vowel a syllable may consist of one or more consonants that appear on either or both sides of the vowel. In some languages like Japanese, most often the syllable is composed of one consonant followed by one vowel. These languages are called syllabic languages. In syllabic languages, each syllable is represented by a symbol (called syllabary) in the writing system. The word TOYOTA from the Japanese language for example includes three syllables: TO, YO, and TA.

That is, if the vocal cords are apart, then air can escape unimpeded. Sounds produced in this way are said to be voiceless. The easiest example of this is to whisper. When you whisper, your glottis is wide open and, therefore, all the sounds produced are voiceless. However, when the glottis is closed, the vocal cords are set into vibration by the impact of the CHAPTER THREE 45 pulmonary air. When the vocal cords vibrate, voice sounds are produced. When they do not vibrate, voiceless sounds result.

It can just be felt with your tongue if you curl it as far back and as high as you can so that the apex of your tongue can feel the soft area of the back-roof of your mouth. The soft palate is technically called the velum and sounds which are produced by a constriction or blockage at this part of the vocal tract are called velar sounds. Thus, velar sounds are usually made when the back of the tongue is pressed against the soft palate. They include the /k/ in cat, the /g/ in girl and the /ŋ/ in hang.

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