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I recently asked a question Do we pronounce the vowel at the beginning of the word with a preceding glottal stop? on the English site and received a very good answer.

According to the answer on that question, English speakers usually pronounce words beginning with a vowel, with a glottal stop when following a pause. That answer explained also that [I]n Hawaiian, the distinction is phonemic i.e. /ahi/ and /ʔahi/ have different meanings. But in English, it is phonetic (allophonic).

I wonder what causes us to have a glottal stop before a vowel after some silence. What happens to our vocal cords when we start from silence? I tried to pronounce a "pure vowel" at the beginning without trying to pronounce a glottal stop but I can't do that.

What causes our vocal cords to produce a glottal stop before a vowel after some silence? Is there a phonetic (or phonological?) explanation for this?

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    Your vocal cords usually close when they’re not in use (to close off access to your windpipe and prevent things getting into your throat). Pronouncing a vowel without a glottal stop requires first opening the cords, then starting the vowel; with a glottal stop, you basically open the cords by pushing the air needed to produce the vowel at them and relaxing. The former requires more accurate timing, so if there’s no phonemic opposition, it’s often easier for speakers to do the latter. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Nov 3 '20 at 9:37
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    @JanusBahsJacquet please don't use comments section for answering the question. Write a full-featured answer instead so it can be upvoted and accepted by the OP. – bytebuster Nov 3 '20 at 13:33
  • @JanusBahsJacquet prevents things like... air? the glottis does close off maybe not the whole windpipe, a glottal stop if I try to force it does though – vectory Nov 3 '20 at 14:43
  • it does prevent accidental sounds from getting out anyway – vectory Nov 3 '20 at 14:44
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    Vowels can be more clearly articulated if there's some amount of sub-glottal pressure. If a vowel is utterance-initial then a way to get some sub-glottal pressure is with a glottal stop. – Gaston Ümlaut Nov 3 '20 at 23:47
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In a comment, Janus Bahs Jacquet wrote:

Your vocal cords usually close when they’re not in use (to close off access to your windpipe and prevent things getting into your throat). Pronouncing a vowel without a glottal stop requires first opening the cords, then starting the vowel; with a glottal stop, you basically open the cords by pushing the air needed to produce the vowel at them and relaxing. The former requires more accurate timing, so if there’s no phonemic opposition, it’s often easier for speakers to do the latter.

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