Language /An elementary 5-dimensional model applied in different sciences
 Phonemes - consonants

Phonemes are classified in vowels plus 4-5 types of consonants besides location for articulation. The number of types in itself points to an interpretation in accordance with the dimension model, as naturally the views on the speech organs in preceding file.

Polarities used by phoneticians are vowels / consonants (without versus with outer barriers for the air stream), voiced / voiceless (with/without vocal cord vibration), instantaneous /continuous sounds, and degree and kind of barrier. With these concepts the types may be derived through 5 polarization steps as in figure at end of this file.
   Here a bit different derivation chain is suggested, from the aspect of the main medium, the air current, and its polarizations:

5 polarizations of the air current:

Described from the aspect of lower d-degree polarizing the next higher one:

5 — 4: The air current as "a whole" polarized by vocal cords in two phases: open (V-formed) ~ 00-pole, undefined (no sound) and closed (~ 0-pole, with vibration): voiceless - voiced sounds as anticenter versus centre.

4 — 3; The air current as outward directed vector field divided by soft palate (pole 3a inwards) in two directions: upwards nasal cavities (pole 4a) and outwards the oral cavity (pole 4b). Soft palate closed: vowels defined, when open: nasals indirectly defined through next step (inwards).

3 — 2: The air current as volume divided by tongue or lips in inner closed room / outer open space, poles 3b/3a Momentary opened volume: plosives defined.

2 — 1: The air current as a surface, a flattened,laminar stream, through "half" opening of volume, branched in Space by the tongue: liquids defined.

1 — 0/00: The air current as "linear" polarized in Time by the tongue tip as a "point" into motions (0 / 00): vibrants defined..

We may note in the figure above that r-sounds (R) by phoneticians are described as changes between voiceless plosives and vowels,
   There is a similar but momentary combination of 0- and 00-poles in the vocal cord plosive (a phoneme in some languages).
   The outer poles 0-00 of d-dgree 4 in our model - here related the vocal cords, meet in last d-degree 0/00 of motions, however as repetition. This opposition momentary / repeated becomes one expression for the poles 0 and 00.
   (The V-form of open vocal cords implies "motions from each other" defining an anticentre, the 00-pole.)

Vibration, the motional moment assumed in d-degree 4 as expression for the 1 lost d-degree in structure, returns in this last step 1 → 0/00 in the r-sounds, the vibrants.

In a derived sense there is also the 0/00-combination in the middle step 3 —2, the momentary transition from inner to outer air volumes in plosives.
   Hence, it gives reason to apply the view on a dimension chain as "haploid", with double directions from centre and anticentre meeting in step 3-2, a new complex centre. (This seems also to agree with the "inverted" relation circular/radial in the middle step.)

Plosives and Fricatives:
Plosives include a transition from stop to radial explosion: a division in both space and time, which illustrates that each step represents d-degree 1 or step 1 → 0/00. (Compare the many phoneme combinations gr-gl-gr-gl in words.)
   This middle step, with the further polarizations to fricatives and liquids could illustrate the particle / wave duality of light among elementary particles as suggested in files about physics. (A closed potential breaking up, polarized in Space and Time.)

The anticentre pole (00) from vocal cords, representing at first the undefined environment for sounds, becomes stepwise defined from outside inwards by more and more barring biological organs, the anticentre pole in relation to the air medium.
   Exhalation and secondarily the vowels as an outward-directed vector field from the centre gets also quantified by barring from the biological anticentra that give the consonants:

Vowels as an underlying field level, transformed into intervals on superposed level. Vowels as d-degree steps, consonants as d-degrees, borders.
   Compare vowels with verbs, as open, "radial" structures, and consonants with nouns, more or less closed structures.

Nasals: as "4a"-pole:
The "a-poles" have characters from inward direction from anticentre in our model.
   It's obvious that the nasals get defined in inward direction, with the prerequisite of a total barrier in d-degree step 3-2.

Variable interpretation of phonemes as out of a dimension chain:
Half-step shifts in the alternatives could depend on whether we look at the main axis for d-degrees of structure as representing the dimension chain, or the outer poles in the different d-degrees as such.

The approach is shifted, depending on whether one looks to the geometry of the organ barriers, or to geometry of the air current. With one example: looking to the organ barrier, total barrier (stop) may be interpreted as a surface (d-degree 2), polarized in the "½" barrier of fricatives, where it's the air current that gets the character of a surface.

Nasals - Laterals: the dimension model as "loop model":

The loop model implies that debranched degrees in dimension degree steps outwards are debranched and meet the other way around inwards.
The dimension chain viewed vertically gets three steps of polarizations of a 5-dimensional unit.
   5 → 3 <—;> 2
   5 → 4 <—>1
   5 → 0 <—> 00

As there is a link between vibration of the vocal cords 0 <===> 00 and vibrants, the r-sounds*, there is also a similarity between the branched air current in nasals and the laterally branched air current by the tongue in liquids. And the pair plosives - fricatives merge or transform easily into one another.
   *(The sound called "flapped r" could be compared with the vocal cord plosive.)

In terms of lower d-degrees branched off from the higher d-degree steps:

Number of phonemes:

Naturally, it's difficult to draw exact borders between many phonemes, with variations in the pronunciation within a language. Yet, sense-dividing phonemes are obviously quantified.

Number in the International alphabet:
Two sources are referred to below, (CE) and (BS) .

Mean value of phonemes in a language is said to be about 30,
30 = the sum of poles in the dimension chain in our model, 2 x (5+4+3+2+1).

25 vowels = 52 = square of intervals in a dimension chain (CEL).
(BS) counts on 20 vowels (5 x 4), plus 8 variables = 28.

61 according to (BS), without implosive stops and click sounds, which (CEL) includes. With addition of two labial-velar stops from (CEL) the number becomes 63.

(Counting with 63 consonants and 28 vowels the quotient becomes 32/22.)

Sums in the table above may be compared with the 2x-series
in polarizations outwards:

Barriers as "halvings" of barriers, simplified:
Oral vector field:
3-2: whole barrier in plosives (inner/outer)
2-1: halved in fricatives (up/down)
1-0/00- branched in Space in liquids - laterals (right/left)
0/00- branched in Time in vibrants

Apprehended as a chain of halvings, the phoneme chain reminds of the assumed angle steps in a dimension chain.


Compare spin, attributed elementary particles as fermions and the bosons, the quanta of forces: ½ - 1 - 2. fermiones - photons - gravitons. Nasals as with spin 2 !?.
   Phonemes are naturally quanta of forces on the level of speech.

Coordinate axes:

The three main coordinate axes of an embryo and in developed speech organs can be identified as
   a) ventral - dorsal, from vegetative - animal poles, from throat to mouth/nose openings, front - back, inner - outer.
   b) up - down, low - high,
   c) left - right.

For an upright human they are easiest to call x - y - z respectively.

- Vowels (V) require divided y-axis.
- Nasals (N) requires divided x-axis.
- Plosives (P) requires divided y- and x-axes.
- Fricatives (F) requires only half division of the x-axis and marks the whole z-axis.
- Liquids as laterals (L) and vibrants (R) requires divided y-, x- and z-axes.

Fricatives - Liquids:

Fricatives and liquids may be described as complementary in the relation between organs and air current. In the figure below the organs are regarded as centres (c) , the air current as anticentre (ac):

Liquids and fricatives as complementary poles can in this case be regarded as different branches from step 2 - 1, with one inwards step 3 - 2 according to previous possible aspects on the model:

In inward direction, it is the centre that gets polarized, in outward direction the anticentre.

h-sound, step 5 - 4, and semivowels j-w:

h-sound, with the vocal cords only half closed, lies a half step deeper than the vowels with their vocal cords vibration, and it can be regarded as having the lungs as primary centre. Hence it derives from step 5 - 4 in these interpretations, but comes up in the step 3 - 2 in the chain of phoneme types: postpositive in aspirated plosives as aspiration.
   It represents the very least barrier for a sound.

The semivowels w - j:
The vowels u and i have been called semivowels and borders on the voiced fricatives in English, the w-sound and j-sound, described as the two most vowel-like consonants.
   (j and - w are in Egyptian depicted as i and u.)

- The u-sound meets the half barrier of the lips in the w-sound, as "another way around" in dimension chain of positions, as a meeting between complementary poles of organs 0 ><00 between the vocal cords and lips, 0/00 on the organ level I. As does the h-sound in aspirated lips sounds b, p.

- The i-sound meets the j-sound on the organ level II of the tongue, in step 3-2.

h-sounds - vowels (V) - the vibration from the internal organs centres emerging in the external steps:

h-sound, semivowels, vibration from inner organ centra turn all up in outer steps, types and regions. (Cf. the loop model.)

h - semivowels and liquids: these sounds as h - u - i - r - l can form a "whirl"!

Tongue shapes as d-degrees 3-2-1-0:

As said in file about speech organs the tongue shapes may be described
- as more massive, 3-dimensional,
- as flattened to a tongue-blade, 2-dimensional,
- as more linear, 1-dimensional,
- or with the tongue tip as a "point", 0-dimensional

These forms correlates firstly rather well with types of phonemes, secondarily also with positions of articulations:
   Regarding types, tongue as massive in inner nasals, plosives, as flattened in fricatives, as more linear in liquids and as a tip in vibrants, illustrating d-degrees 3-2-1-0.
- In plosives, in the opening phase, the tongue is contracted to a 3-dimensional mass, in the preceding stop phase a bit more 2-dimensional, a barrier.
- In fricatives the tongue-blade as a 2-dimensional surface may be convex or concave, one of the geometrical polarities of poles of d-degree 2 in our model.
    As convex, it creates the sounds with dorsum, its upper surface. As concave it forms sounds with under side of the tip, so in "retroflex" sounds. The upper side of the tongue is often also scooped, i.e. concave to a wider or narrower canal for the air current.
- In liquids the tongue is narrowing, as to illustrate the linear 1st dimension.
- In vibrants only the tip of tongue will be used, as a point illustrating d-degree 0.

[Here, as in the interpretation of the speech organs, it's possible to regard the step 1→0/00 developed within step 3 — 2 as inwards from d-degree 2. This could also give an aspect on the positions for the tongue phonemes:

The similar differentiation in locations of articulation from inside outwards appears as secondary developments within phoneme type steps, which could be interpreted as two levels of differentiations:
   It would be possible to trace features from d-degree 4 and 3 in those levels: phoneme types as fundamentally differentiations of directions, from d-degree 4, and positions as differentiation in space, d-degree 3.


According to the file about the speech organs interpreted as a dimension chain:

The scientific abbreviations for locations where the sounds are generated:
BL - Bilabial - Lip sounds
DL - Labiodental - lip-dental sounds
DA - Dental-alveolar - the inside of the teeth-dental ridge
A - Alveolar - dental ridge
AP - Alveolar-Palatal - dental ridge - hard palate
P - Palatal - hard palate, middle of the palate ceiling
V - Velar - soft palate
UV - Uvular - uvula
Gl - Glottal - larynx, vocal cords
(A couple of positions, retroflex R, and pharyngeal Ph omitted here.)

Approximate positions for Swedish Phonemes:

One annotation:
A dimensional interpretation of rear lingual sounds with tongue drawn inwards (both vowels and consonants), holds a general ambiguity: they can be understood as the necessary way to illustrate higher d-degrees in the chain of positions - or as a dimensional expression for inward direction in that chain. The first alternative is the most alluded to above

A note:
5 polarizations, departing from polarities: vowels/consonants, voiced/voiceless, momentary/continuous:


To Vowels and Morphemes
To Semantic roles of phonemes
To Sound shifts

© Åsa Wohlin
Free to distribute if the source is mentioned.
Texts are mostly extractions from a booklet series, made publicly available in year 2000








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Part I, files 1-8
Part II, files 9-13

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