Thursday, October 11, 2012

Voice settings, oral posture

1. I believe that voice setting approach captures “narrow IPA transcription of vowels and consonants”. Broad transcription just keeps the foreign accented vowels and consonants. A french /i/ is not same as American /i/ either. That’s why one should go beyond Adrian’s basic vowel chart. One should be taught cardinal vowels in three different ways: (a) with a fixed jaw setting; (b) with a fixed tongue setting; (c) with both tongue and jaw. Catford’s “A practical introduction to phonetics” talks about developing kinesthesia using these three methods.
2. Dudley Knight talks about “oral posture” in his “Speaking with skill: an introduction to Knight Thompson workout”. In that book, he talks about 9 to 10 parameters that actors should look for when they are doing research on a particular accent. In those 10 parameters, three to four capture the accent in the question. Dudley lists many exercises to develop kinesthesia for tongue, jaw, buccinator, lips. These exercises help one to produce vowels in many configurations. I think TEFL teachers should get certified in Knight Thompson workout, which is aimed for actors.
3. Consonant clusters tell a lot about a particular language. Consonant clusters tell you a combination of C-gestures. These cluster of gestures provide a clue about an optimal configuration of articulators. Constanine Leo Borriossof in his thesis explores on this aspect:
4. There is another research program called Articulatory Phonology from Haskins labs. This research program is better than traditional features based approach. This research helps voice settings approach. In fact, Doug Honoroff, a dialect coach as well as a research at Haskins labs, is part of this research program.
5. John Esling talks about pivotal vowel. And Dudley Knight talks about home base. What they are saying is a default configuration of tongue, lips and jaw. That configuration functions as a pivot. All other articulatory gestures are relative to that pivot. Here, one can look at the whole vowel space (not the compressed IPA vowel trapezium). Then locate the home base in that vowel space–and this home base is just a subset of the vowel space. Here, one can look at various features of an accent: GOOSE-fronting; mergers; tensing/raising of vowels; etc.
6. That’s why mastering cardinal vowels in three ways is to necessary to get to the home base. Mimicry does not help one to produce cardinal vowels in three ways. Adrian is selling half-baked mimicry, half-baked since he uses descriptions using lips, jaw and tongue without showing how to develop proprioception and/or kinesthesia of these articulators. Here, Dudley Knight is the master; he does not get into vowels and consonants, but starts with various intrinsic and extrinsic muscles of tongue, muscles of lips, jaw, buccinator, etc. Then give exercises to isolate these muscles. The end result: kinesthesia/proprioception. Once one has developed these skills, producing sounds is darn easy.
7. Since all vowels are dorsal articulations, frequency of diphthongs and vowel sounds (not graphemes, nor phonemes, just phones) also tell about the optimal configuration of various articulators.

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