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Phonology

Phonology is the study of the sounds of languages.  To study these sounds, we need to use symbols to represent them.  The International Phonetic Association (IPA) has created an International Phonetic Alphabet that represents the sounds of languages; of which, all the sounds of Cajun French are represented.  The International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) is used on this website.  The symbols that you will see in the following sections are those of the IPA and each symbol represents one sound only.   


In this section one will learn about oral vowels, nasal vowels, and consonants here and here

Basic Definitions

  1. Syllable:  The independent sounds of a word when separated by vowel(s).
  2. Open vs Closed syllable:  When a syllable ends in a vowel it is open.  When it ends in a consonant it is a closed.
  3. Vowels:  Sounds produced through the mouth without any stoppage of airflow. 
  4. Rounded vs Unrounded vowels:  This deals with the rounding or unrounding of the lips when producing a vowel. 
  5. Open vs Close vowels:  This is about the openness of closeness of the mouth.  When sounding the letter 'a' in the English word Fall the mouth is opened.  When sounding the letter 'o' in the English word No the mouth is almost closed when pronouncing the vowel.
  6. Consonants:  Unlike a vowel, there is partial to complete stoppage of airflow.
  7. Dental vs Alveolar consonants:  certain consonants are either dental consonants made with the tongue touching the back of the upper teeth or alveolar consonants made by the touching the alveolar ridge--the area just behind the upper teeth.
  8. Palatal consonants:  The tongue blade is positioned against the palate of the mouth.
  9. Aspirated vs Unaspirated consonants:  Aspiration is the puff of air that exits the mouth when producing certain consonant sounds.   
  10. Diacritics:  These are symbols that appear above or below a letter.