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Ok see the following IPA vowel chart

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Let say to make the long /i/ sound then the front of the tongue need to be as front as possible in the mouth and as close as possible to the roof of the mouth. The mouth is almost closed when making /i/. See the following picture:

enter image description here

Ok, let ask you this question,

CAN YOU MAKE OTHER SOUND such as /e/, /u/, /æ/, etc WHILE YOUR TONGUE & MOUTH IS IN /i/ position?

I tried and I felt that the sound is a bit different but generally it sound like /i/.

So, I think that if we fix our mouth & tongue in a particular position then we can make ONE & ONLY ONE distinct vowel sound right?

And 1 mouth-tongue specific position can not make 2 or more distinct vowel sounds right?

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    Don't forget about such factors ar lips roundness/unroundness, nasalisation, phonation, and glottalisation, all of them don't depend on the tongue position, so the tongue position for the front close [i] gives at least 8 different sounds, if to take into the account the 4 factors I enumerated, but actually they are much more. – Yellow Sky Feb 7 '16 at 6:22
  • @YellowSky, I mean the general /i/ can only be made by placing the tongue very high and very far (mouth spread). You can not make /i/ sound by placing tongue in different position – Tom Feb 7 '16 at 6:53
  • It's hard to understand what you mean. I never said anything about the phoneme /i/, I wrote about the sound [i], and you in your question wrote about sounds, and the chart above shows sounds, but what is between / / is a phoneme, and that's quite a different thing. What is your question about? You ask "So, I think that if we fix our mouth & tongue in a particular position then we can make ONE & ONLY ONE distinct vowel sound right?" and I answered "No" and proved it, user6726 also said "No" and proved it. What don't you agree with? Again: /i/ is not a sound, it is a phoneme. – Yellow Sky Feb 7 '16 at 7:07
  • @YellowSky, so I missunderstood, each tongue-mouth lips position make a distinct phoneme, right. – Tom Feb 7 '16 at 7:33
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    No, wrong. A phoneme can be realised as a number of sounds, for example, in some languages the phoneme /i/ can be realised as [i], [ɪ], [ɨ], [e], [ə], or [u]. However you turn it, the answer will always be "No". Phoneme and sound are fundamental notions of linguistics, they cannot be explained in a chat or on a Q&A site, you've got to study a textbook in phonetics and phonlogy to understand them. – Yellow Sky Feb 7 '16 at 7:59
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You can divide the properties governing phonemicizable vowel differences into two sets, which we can call "place" and "other stuff". "Place" would include the geometry of the lips (i.e. "mouth" position) and position of the tongue, relative to the mandible. Anything else would be "other stuff".

Some examples of "other stuff" include: position of the velo-pharyngeal port, which controls whether air flows through the nose (yielding the difference between oral and nasal vowels); tension on the vocal folds, which in various ways yields tonal differences in vowels; degree of constriction of the vocal folds, which yields breathy vs. modal vs. laryngealized vowel differences; constriction of the lower pharyngeal walls, which yields pharyngealized vowels; lowering of the epiglottis, which yields epiglottalized vowels. In addition, the duration of a vowel can be manipulated without messing with "place" properties.

Each of the things I described under "other stuff" forms the physical basis for vowel distinctions in some language. So, given a single tongue and lip configuration, you can still produce quite a range of potentially distinctive sounds. Of course, no language realizes that full potential, and many languages don't realise any of that potential (i.e. there are no tone, nasalization, pharyngealization... contrasts). The chart of IPA vowels above doesn't give all of the vowel distinctions, it only gives the vowel distinctions based on "place".

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  • I mean the general /i/ can only be made by putting your tongue in that position. No other position can make general /i/ except that position – Tom Feb 7 '16 at 6:54

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