Table of Contents
Definition of Voicing
A sound is voiced if, while it is being produced, the vocal cords or flaps are brought together, so that they vibrate as the air from the lungs is pushed past them.
To see where the pharynx (or voice box, or vocal cords) is located, go to The Organs of Speech.
Vowels Are All Voiced (Mostly)
All vowels, in all languages, are always voiced.1 The very word “vowel” means “a kind of sound that by its very nature is always voiced.”
Consonants Can Be Voiced Or Unvoiced
Consider these unvoiced-voiced pairs. In each case the place where the two sounds are made and the manner in which they are made are identical; the only important difference is the absence or presence of voicing.
(as in “thing”)
(as in “hither”)
(as in “sure”)
(as in “measure”)
(as in “church”)
(as in “judge”)
How the French Say It
For English “voiced” the French say sonore; for English “unvoiced,” sourd(e).
There also exist the words voisé(e) and non voisé(e) (from la voix = “voice”); similarly voiser = “to voice,” le voisement = “(the action of) voicing,” le dévoisement = “(the action of) unvoicing.”
- Except in a few cases when they are not. For instance, when you whisper, if you go all the way, all the sounds you make are de-voiced, even the vowels.