When I pronounce an approximant, a trill, and then a stop, I have an impression that they are discriminated by the strength of articulation (the "strength of articulation" here means the strength of force of the active articulator against the passive articulator, and is distinguished by the diacritics like [k͈] and [k͉] by extIPA). The approximant feels like the weakest, the trill the middle, and the stop the strongest.
I have a voice sample to demonstrate this, here postalveolar, so it's a shift from [ɹ̺] to [r] to [t̚]: Click here
I tried to apply this to other places of articulation, and discovered that the "middle" is a creaky voice. Here is the voice sample to demonstrate this, which is a shift from [a] to [a̰] to [ʔ̚]: Click here

So a creaky voice is a glottal trill?

1 Answer 1


"Trill" is a property of the primary consonantal articulator, so [˷] is not a trill. All modes of voicing constitute a kind of "trilling" of the vocal folds, including normal, breathy and creaky voicing. What makes creaky voice distinctive is that the arytenoid cartilages are pressed together, so that the glottis remains closed longer and the opening and closing phases are shorter and more abrupt. On the other end of the glottal-constriction scale, breathy voicing has less glottal constriction leading often to incomplete closure during the closed phase, and a more gradual, sinusoidal shape of opening.

The concept of "active articulator" vs. "passive articulator" does not apply to the action of the glottis. However, it is a basic truism of physics that if you supply sufficient force to an adjustable opening, you can block airflow, given normal subglottal pressures.

  • Still, I'd like to apply physics to phonetics and re-classify the terms. Oct 16, 2017 at 22:52
  • I guess the core notion of physics underlying creaky voice and consonant trills is in the neighborhood of aeroelasticity. There's no linguistic term that unifies the two.
    – user6726
    Oct 16, 2017 at 23:22

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