Chapter published in:Sonic Signatures: Studies dedicated to John Harris
Edited by Geoff Lindsey and Andrew Nevins
[Language Faculty and Beyond 14] 2017
► pp. 134–144
Charting the vowel space
The vowel quadrilateral of the International Phonetic Association, couched entirely in articulatory terms, distorts in a number of ways the phonetic and phonological reality of the vowel space. It implies that cardinal vowels are articulatorily equidistant, which they are not. It is four-cornered, whereas acoustic and phonological evidence suggests a triangular space. It obscures the markedness relations of the vowels, so that its eight corner vowels are an unnatural set, including common and very rare vowels. A genuinely sound-based chart avoids these distortions and offers the possibility of an objectively standardized set of reference qualities.
Keywords: vowel space, vowel quadrilateral, vowel triangle, articulation, acoustics, cardinal vowels, reference qualities, markedness
Published online: 30 November 2017
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