Compared to vowels, all consonants are made with a greater degree of constriction in the vocal tract. This is true of even the most vowel-like consonants /w/ /j/ /r/ and /l/. The bilabial approximant /w/ is, in articulation, an extreme /u/ and the palatal approximant /j/ is similarly, like an extreme /i/. Since these consonants are most like the vowels we have already been studying, we will begin study of consonants by looking closely at /w/, /j/, /r/, and /l/. We will synthesize these segments first in isolation, and then as the initial consoants of CV syllables.
Given that /w/ is /u/-like, but with more closed (extreme) articulation, it is not surprising that its formant strucutre is similar to, but more extreme than that of /u/. The formant strucutre of /j/ is a more extreme version of /i/, and /r/ is similar to the /ER/ vowel that is central but with a low F3. The lateral approximant /l/ also has features of a central vowel, but unlike /r/ does not have a low F3. As we will see, /l/ is the most difficult of the approximants to synthesize in stationary isolated form.
More specifically, the formant structure measured from examples of uttered speech for each of these consonants is given in the following table:
* * /rae/ template * TIME = 000; F1=350; F2=650; F3=1200; F0=120; AV=48 TIME + 40; F1=350; F2=650; F3=1200; AV=72 TIME + 60; F1=650; F2=1750; F3=2500; AV=72 TIME = 400; F1=650; F2=1750; F3=2500; F0=90; AV=72 TIME + 30; AV=0 END