Mudcat Café message #1137791 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #67852   Message #1137791
Posted By: Mark Cohen
16-Mar-04 - 04:48 AM
Thread Name: Any glottal stops down your way?
Subject: RE: Any glottal stops down your way?
Well, let's see if we can straighten out some of you folks... [insert stupid little smiley face thing here]

AKS: You're half right, kind of. There are two vocal cords. (The correct anatomical term is "vocal folds" or "vocal ligaments," but even my pedanticism has its limits!) The organ that produces the voice is the larynx, which contains the vocal cords. The glottis is in fact the space between the vocal cords. Now you know!

Jim: First, you were right, of course. And I did catch somebody!

Second, you can tell precisely when you have executed a true glottal stop: you can't breathe. That is, no air can pass in or out of the trachea (windpipe) when the glottis is closed. Try holding your breath and you'll probably get it.

Third, you're right that the difference between a "hard" and "soft" glottal stop is related to air pressure. It's more like the difference between an initial "P" (the P in "Pa") and an ending "P" (the P in "up") for most English speakers. One ends with a puff of air and the other doesn't. The speech pathologists say that one consonant is "aspirated." (If you listen to a native Russian speaker you'll notice that they don't aspirate their initial P's and T's.) However, this is not like the difference between "P" and "B", which has to do with whether your vocal cords are vibrating when you make the sound. B is "voiced" and P isn't. But you were on the right track!

Here is a fascinating video of the larynx during breathing, taken through a laryngoscope, that shows the vocal cords opening and closing. At one point the glottis is closed. (I'm not sure if everybody will be able to see the movie.) Here is a diagram of what you're looking at in the video.

Aloha,
Mark