Is it because consonants are too fast or too slow that we perceive them as indefinite pitches?

  • Try saying a consonant like t or p without a vowel sound. It's impossible. A consonant on its own does not have pitch. A person has to say something for pitch. Also, pitch is not something that is identified with that kind of thing, it's at the level of utterances. learngrammar.net/a/what-is-pitch-explained-with-examples Speed and pitch are not necessarily related. You can have high pitch to your voice and speak slowly.
    – Lambie
    Mar 3 at 15:57
  • 2
    It's absolutely not impossible to say a consonant without a vowel sound, especially but not exclusively continuants..
    – LjL
    Mar 3 at 17:15

1 Answer 1


Well, some of them do. When you're humming, you're producing a [m] sound at a particular pitch. In general, any consonants that involve the vocal cords vibrating will have a pitch.

Some of them don't, though, because pitch is a property of a periodic sound. It measures how quickly a certain pattern repeats. If there's no repeating pattern, the pitch is undefined.

It's the same reason many percussion instruments don't have a definite pitch. When you make a [s] sound, for example, you're producing a lot of aperiodic noise without repeating patterns in it.

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