Some aspects of the IPA chart are not intuitive to me. I tend to think of "place of articulation" as "where a sound is produced" and "manner of articulation" as "how a sound is produced".

Is this a useful understanding or does it reduce the meaning of the rows and columns in the IPA chart?

Also: Is there an image that combines place and/or manner with an x-ray view of the speech organs? That'd help me better understand those terms. The examples I find online don't correspond exactly to the IPA chart so they're often more distracting than helpful. For example, the image below only has 9 places of articulation mentioned, whereas the IPA has 11.

enter image description here

It'd be awesome if there was an image or images like this that included both place and manner, but maybe it'd be too complicated. Any input/advice on this would be appreciated!

1 Answer 1


You can't represent a manner graphically because... it's a manner, not a thing. By the way, you better think of manner in terms of "type of obstacle". Indeed, all sounds need a stream of air to be articulated. The articulation consists in interrupting such stream in various ways. Sometimes you get a complete occlusion which prevents the air from moving at all (so, you have the stops). Some other times, you let flow some amount of air; this might be a fricative or, e.g., a lateral. In a lateral, the obstacle is incomplete because some residual air stream flows through openings between the tongue sides and the palate. Such an approach explains why lateral is a manner rather than a place, notwithstanding that the term has a "location" in it. Similarly for nasals: the air flows through the nasal cavities, so that the obstacle is not as complete as in stops. Vowels are just another type of obstacle, i.e. a null obstacle.

  • 2
    I think the real reason why you can't represent manner in such a chart is that it requires a 3-d movie – it refers to dynamic properties, not static ones.
    – user6726
    Jul 10, 2017 at 0:07
  • One funny animated illustration is to be found here: svg-whiz.com/svg/linguistics/theCreepyMouth.svg Jul 10, 2017 at 15:36
  • Lulz. Supraglottal place entails oral, laryngeals are all nasal. Glad they cleared that up.
    – user6726
    Jul 10, 2017 at 15:46

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