Edward Sapir (18841939). Language: An Introduction to the Study of Speech. 1921.
disconnected from the mouth, which is the other great resonance chamber, by the lifting of the movable part of the soft palate so as to shut off the passage of the breath into the nasal cavity; or, if the soft palate is allowed to hang down freely and unobstructively, so that the breath passes into both the nose and the mouth, these make a combined resonance chamber. Such sounds as b and a (as in father) are voiced oral sounds, that is, the voiced breath does not receive a nasal resonance. As soon as the soft palate is lowered, however, and the nose added as a participating resonance chamber, the sounds b and a take on a peculiar nasal quality and become, respectively, m and the nasalized vowel written an in French (e.g., sang, tant). The only English sounds8 that normally receive a nasal resonance are m, n, and the ng sound of sing. Practically all sounds, however, may be nasalized, not only the vowelsnasalized vowels are common in all parts of the worldbut such sounds as l or z. Voiceless nasals are perfectly possible. They occur, for instance, in Welsh and in quite a number of American Indian languages.
The organs that make up the oral resonance chamber may articulate in two ways. The breath, voiced or unvoiced, nasalized or unnasalized, may be allowed to pass through the mouth without being checked or impeded at any point; or it may be either momentarily checked or allowed to stream through a greatly narrowed passage with resulting air friction. There are also transitions between the two latter types of articulation. The unimpeded breath takes on a particular color or quality in accordance with the varying shape of the oral resonance chamber. This shape is chiefly determined by the
Note 8. Aside from the involuntary nasalizing of all voiced sounds in the speech of those that talk with a nasal twang. [back]