Voices and aspirations

We have so far learned that there are five points of pronunciation.

  • The soft palate. The soft palate is the fleshy region at the very back of the mouth.
  • The hard palate. The hard palate is the bony region on the top of the mouth.
  • The area behind the hard bump on the roof of the mouth. This bump sits behind the teeth.
  • The base of the teeth.
  • The lips.

Interestingly, we have four stops and nasals for each point of pronunciation, but only one consonant for them. Hence, there arises a need to produce three other consonants, but how?

In order to understand consonants, we have to segregate them into two categories; they are; voiced and unvoiced consonants. For example, the letter b is voiced whereas, letter p is unvoiced, just like the English words “pale” and “bail”

Apart from this, there is another factor that needs to be considered, that is whether the sound is aspirated or non-aspirated. The aspirated sounds are followed by a puff of air while speaking, for instance, “g” in “log” when heard carefully; you can sense an extra puff of air while speaking this word. Such aspirated sounds are present in English too.

So let us take a look at each of the sounds example;

The soft palate sounds:

Letter Approximation
ka k  in “skill”
kha k  in “kill”
ga g in “great”
gha Aspirated g
na ng  in “lung”

One thing you must’ve noticed here is that the first two sounds are unvoiced and the rest two are aspirated. The last one whereas is a nasal one.

Following table will you help you understand the concept more clearly;

Letter Voiced Aspirated Nasal
ka No No No
kha No Yes No
ga Yes No No
gha Yes Yes No
na Yes No Yes


The hard palate sounds

Letter Approximation
cha Aspirated ca
jha Aspirated jha


The retroflex sounds:

Letter Approximation
tha Aspirated ta
dha Aspirated da


Tooth consonants:

Letter Approximation
ta “th” inthumb
tha Aspirated “ta”
da “th”  in “the”
dha Aspirated “da”
na “n”  innow


Lip consonants:

Letter Approximation
Pa “p” inspill
pha “p” inpill
ba “b”  inbill
bha Aspirated “b”
ma “m”  inmail