In this question, the most highly voted answer mentions that

Note, though, that on-glide and off-glide are also sometimes used to refer to the beginning and end of any sound, not necessarily a vowel, such as the approach and release phases of a plosive.

I'm quite happy to have these terms generalized from only plosives, but am still somewhat unsure about their exact usage. The default, linguistics 101 model of speech production is obviously phone phone phone .... So, using these terms, it might be (in terms of articulation only) on-glide main-articulation off-glide on-glide main-articulation off-glide ....
This would seem to suggest one would subsume the transition period between phones into a combination of off-glide1 on-glide2. This doesn't seem quite satisfying to me, and I'm not sure in how much what I wrote represents a mainstream view, a fringe view, or just nonsense.
So: Is there an explicit name for any transition period between the articulation of phones, and if so, how does it relate to on-glide and off-glide? And what happens (in either view) when a phone seems to involve almost no transition (e.g. homorganic fricative → stop)?

1 Answer 1


There are two candidate terms. One is "coarticulation", which focuses on the articulatory cause of the transitional acoustic properties that exist in sounds in sequence. The other is "formant transition", which focuses on the acoustic consequence of changing articulators, but only in terms of formant frequency. Wrt the "gliding" question, the most common context where people speak of formant transitions is in the boundaries CV and VC, but formant transitions can be detected anywhere that there is measurable sound.

  • I've heard of coarticulation, but only as a 'type' of articulation. The idea here would be that during the transitional period, a sound ends up being co-articulated with the articulation it's transitioning from/to, correct?
    – Sam
    Commented Jun 27, 2022 at 16:11
  • 1
    Yes, that what it means. "Co-articulated" consonant is a special and sort of marginal use, referring to two simultaneous articulations.
    – user6726
    Commented Jun 27, 2022 at 16:18
  • Like labiovelars [kʷ], which have simultaneous velar and labial articulation (at different places and with different muscles, but simultaneous) and ejectives [t’], which have glottal articulation simultaneous with some oral consonant (again, different in place and innervation).
    – jlawler
    Commented Jun 27, 2022 at 17:19
  • I am familiar with co-articulated consonants, the part where we use them to analyze transition periods is what's unfamiliar to me (at least personally). I only had ever encountered them as phonemes or allophones per se, not as allophones explaining transition periods, though I guess in a way this might be just a different way of looking at the statement that a certain co-articulation is conditioned by its phonetic environment.
    – Sam
    Commented Jun 27, 2022 at 19:33
  • @user6726 I've been ruminating on this answer. Would it make sense to call this "phonetic coarticulation" or "conditioned coarticulation", to separate it from the phonological phenomenon?
    – Sam
    Commented Jul 18, 2022 at 7:06

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