ENG 099 Conversational American English Atom 7: Language Talk (2 of 10) (Revision: March 19, 2013 at 17:52)

Language Talk (2 of 10)

See the first part of Language Talk in Atom 3.

Language Talk Dialogue 2 of 10

Please read and take notes on the dialogue below:

Teacher.—What did you learn in the previous Lesson?


Pupil.— I learned that a spoken word is composed of certain sounds, and that letters are signs of sounds, and that spoken and written words are the signs of ideas.

This question should be passed from one pupil to another till all of these answers are elicited.


T.- All the written words in all the English books ever made, are formed of twenty-six letters, representing about forty sounds. These letters and these sounds make up what is called artificial language.


Of these twenty-six letters, a, e, i, o, u, and sometimes w and y, are called vowels, and the remainder are called consonants.


In order that you may understand what kind of sounds the vowels stand for, and what kinds the consonants represent, I will tell you something about the human voice.

Ligaments of the larynx. Posterior view. Gray952

Ligaments of the larynx. Posterior view. Gray952. Public Domain. Via the Wikimedia Commons

T.- The air breathed out from your lungs beats against two flat muscles, stretched like strings across the top of the windpipe, and causes them to vibrate. This vibrating makes sound. Take a thread, put one end between your teeth, hold the other in your fingers, draw it tight and strike it, and you will understand how voice is made.


Gray490 from Gray’s Anatomy via Wikimedia Commons [Public Domain]

Figure 5: The Lungs pushing air up into the windpipe.

T.- If the voice thus produced comes out through the mouth held well open, a class of sounds is formed which we call vowel sounds.

But, if the voice is held back by your palate, tongue, teeth, or lips, one kind of consonant sounds is made. If the breath is driven out without voice, and is held back by these same parts of the mouth, the other kind of consonant sounds is formed. Ex. of both: b, d, g; p, t, k.

You are now prepared to understand what I mean when I say that the vowels are the letters which stand for the open sounds of the voice, and that the consonants are the letters which stand for the sounds made by the obstructed voice and the obstructed breath.




DEFINITION.—Artificial Language, or Language Proper, consists of the spoken and written words used to communicate ideas and thoughts.

DEFINITION.—English Grammar is the science which teaches the forms, uses, and relations of the words of the English Language.


 Watch and take notes on the video from 15:30 to 25:30 (10 minutes).


  • Find a piece of string and practice making sounds with your voice like I did in the video; i.e.,  “Take a thread, put one end between your teeth, hold the other in your fingers, draw it tight and strike it, and you will understand how voice is made.”
    • If you can, take a picture and put it on your blog!
    • Did using the string help you better understand how voice is made? Yes or No? Why? Please write the answer in your blog, leave it in the comments, or use FacebookP2PU and/or Wikiversity.

Copyright Notes

  • Please respect the copyright plus terms and conditions of all links and media not by Charlie Danoff.

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