Vowels are sounds in which there is no obstruction to the flow of air as it passes from the larynx to lips . Vowels are thus produced with a stricture of ‘open approximation ‘, that is the tongue (active articulator ), is raised towards , the roof of the mouth (passive articulator),so that there is enough gap between them for the air to flow out freely and continuously , without friction . Vowels are essentially a ‘tone’ or ‘hum’ issuing from the glottis with the vocal cords vibrating . Hence all vowels are voiced sounds .The quality of a vowel depends on the shape of the cavities of the pharynx ,the mouth and the nose , which in turn depend on the position of the soft palate , the tongue and the lips during its articulation .
CLASSIFICATION OF VOWELS
Vowels may be either long or short ./I/ for example ,is short while /i:/ is long Usually vowels from the ‘nucleus’ in a syllable . They are soft , voiced and musical .Vowels can be classified on the basis of
- THE HEIGHT TO WHICH THE TONGUE IS RAISED
- THE PART OF THE TONGUE THAT IS RAISED
- THE POSITION OF THE LIPS
For the proper study of vowel sounds ,we need a set of fixed vowel points as references .The vowel sounds specially selected for this purpose are called Cardinal vowels .They are used as references to describe , classify and compare the the vowels of any language . If we learn them we are learning about the range of vowels that human vocal organs can make.