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Allen and Greenough/ New Latin Grammar

Classification of Sounds

4. Consonants are further classified as in the following table:
Voiced (mediae) b d g
Mutes Voiceless Itenues) p t c (k, q)
Aspirates ph th ch
Nasals m n n (before c, g, q)
Liquids l, r
Fricatives(Spirants) f (Strictly, a labio-dental, pronounced with the under lip touching the upper teeth.) s, z
Sibilants s, z
Semivowels v consonant i
Double consonants are x (= cs) and z (= dz ); h is merely a breathing.
  1. Mutes are pronounced by blocking entirely, for an instant, the passage of the breath through the mouth, and then allowing it to escape with an explosion (distinctly heard before a following vowel). Between the explosion and the vowel there may be a slight puff of breath (h), as in the Aspirates (ph, th, ch).1
  2. Labials are pronounced with the lips, or lips and teeth.
  3. Dentals (sometimes called Linguals) are pronounced with the tip of the tongue touching or approaching the upper front teeth.
  4. Palatals are pronounced with a part of the upper surface of the tongue touching or approaching the palate.2
  5. Fricatives (or Spirants) are consonants in which the breath passes continuously through the mouth with audible friction.
  6. Nasals are like voiced mutes, except that the mouth remains closed and the breath passes through the nose.

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The aspirates are almost wholly confined to words borrowed from the Greek. In early Latin such borrowed sounds lost their aspiration and became simply p, t, c.
Palatals are often classed as (1) velars, pronounced with the tongue touching or rising toward the soft palate (in the back part of the mouth), and (2) palatals, in which the tongue touches crrises toward the hard palate (farther forward in the mouth). Compare the initial consonants in key and cool , whispering the two words, and it will be observed that before e and i the k is sounded farther forward in the mouth than before a, o, or u.