This book gives a description of all the known ways in which the sounds of the world's languages differ. In doing so, it provides the empirical foundations for linguistic phonetics and phonology. Encapsulating the work of two leading figures in the field, it will be a standard work of reference for researchers in phonetics and linguistics for many years to come.
The scope of the book is truly global, with data drawn from nearly 400 languages, many of them investigated at first hand by the authors. A picture of the full range of possible contrasting phonetic categories is created by comparing families of similar sounds across many different languages.
Separate chapters deal with place of articulation, stops, nasals, fricatives, laterals, rhotics, clicks, vowels, and segments with multiple articulations. Each chapter is packed with illustrations documenting the articulatory and acoustic characteristics of the sounds discussed, and serving to illustrate the application of modern experimental techniques to descriptive phonetic studies.