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IPA mark ◌̬
IPA number 403
IPA character description fixing under hook
Unicode U + 032C
HTML (dec.) & # 812;
Kirshenbaum <vcd>

Voicing (adjective: voiced ) is a term from the linguistic sub- disciplines phonetics and phonology and characterizes a speech sound that is pronounced with the participation of the vocal tone.

Voicing in Phonetics

From a phonetic point of view, voicing means that the vocal cords play a role in the articulation of a sound . This happens in the form that the vocal folds close alternately within a very short time and are immediately "blown open" by a stream of air pressed out of the lungs, so that they start to vibrate and thus produce a sound. In contrast, voiceless sounds are spoken with the glottis open so that the air can flow unhindered into the vocal tract .

Voiced sounds are the sonorants in most languages , which are vowels and nasal sounds ([ m , n , ŋ ]), liquids ([ r , l ]) and approximants ([ ʋ , j , w ]). In many languages, including German, there are also certain voiced consonants , the so-called voiced obstruents ([ b , d , g , v , z , ʒ ]).

In German , voiced obstruents occur only in the middle and northern varieties , i.e. roughly in the northern half of the German-speaking area, while in the southern varieties all obstruents are voiceless. The question is whether today's South German de-sonorization, especially of the final, is independent of the historical hardening of the final or goes back to it.

A process in which an unvoiced obstruent is voiced, i.e. sonication , the reverse process is Stimmtonverlust ( Desonorisierung , Entsonorisierung).

Since voicing in standard German is associated with a weaker (Latin lēnis 'gentle' ) and voicelessness with a stronger (Latin fortis 'strong' ) articulatory energy , the pairs of opposites voiced-voiceless and Lenis - Fortis are often used synonymously (which is not quite correct is).

In the International Phonetic Alphabet voicing is a sound by the IPA 403 displays a check mark under set ( Unicode COMBINING CARON BELOW U + 032C), for example [⁠ t ⁠] .

The question of whether a sound is voiced or unvoiced can be answered using a simple test. If you hold your hand to your larynx while speaking, you will feel a vibration if you are voiced (for example, while speaking M-au of the word mouse ). If you cover your ears, you can also hear a booming noise. Neither is the case with voicelessness.

Voicing in Phonology

All sounds can first be classified phonetically as to whether they are voiced or unvoiced (unvoiced). In phonology, the neighboring discipline of phonetics, voiced represents a binary phonological distinctive feature (notated as “[± sth]”), that is, voicing can have a differentiating effect; the same sound can influence the meaning of a word depending on whether it is pronounced voiced or unvoiced. So it makes a difference, for example, whether the labial plosive involving the voice is present as [b] or without it as [p] as the Germans at leg vs. Pein or in English at bike vs. pike is the case.

In German (as well as in some other languages) one observes the phenomenon of final hardening (closing voiced obstruents are pronounced voiceless). This phenomenon has phonological consequences: An originally voiced-voiceless opposition is canceled ( neutralized ).


The spelling of a word or a sound can reproduce its voicing - as in the examples just shown - but, as the hardening of the final sound shows, is not tied to it: In Liebe und lieb , the spelling prescribes <b> both times, while the actual one Pronunciation shows that the sound [b] becomes voiceless to [p] ([li: bə], [li: p]).

Voicing in stuttering therapy

In MPI (Modifying Phonation Intervals) stuttering therapy , the patient is trained to speak with a modified speech pattern. The periods of voicing (called voiced intervals) are recorded with the help of an accelerometer worn on the neck and reported back to the speaker using a biofeedback method. The patient learns to reduce the frequency of particularly short voiced intervals. For most patients, this means that they can speak permanently stutter-free with natural-sounding language.

Individual evidence

  1. a b c Helmut Glück (Ed.): Metzler Lexikon Sprach . 2., ext. Edition. Metzler, Stuttgart / Weimar 2000.
  2. Fortis
  3. RJ Ingham, M. Kilgo, JC Ingham, R. Moglia, H. Belknap, T. Sanchez: Evaluation of a stuttering treatment based on reduction of short phonation intervals. In: Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research. 44, pp. 1229–1244 (Online in: logera.files.wordpress.com (PDF; 1.4 MB), accessed April 20, 2015).