Welcome to Charcoal Land, a web repository for everything palatography!

Static Palatography is a linguistic fieldwork technique used for language documentation. With this method, we can describe the precise place of articulation for coronal consonants.

Coronal consonants are “tip of the tongue consonants”. Say “pa ta ka”. (Say it!)

You’ll notice that for “pa” you used your lips; for “ta”, you used the tip of your tongue; and for “ka”, you used the back part of your tongue.


This is a mouth:

Just a mouth
Notice that what you’re seeing in the image on the right is reflected in a mirror.


This is a mouth that said “ta”:

English ta

The palatogram shows where the tongue touched the roof of the mouth. English /t/ is an alveolar stop. That means that the tongue makes contact with the palate at the alveolar ridge, just behind the teeth. You can see in the picture on the left that there is no black marking on the teeth, just in a narrow line behind the teeth. See that the tongue has a matching narrow line! The narrow line indicates an apical, or tongue tip articulation.

On the other hand, here’s a Spanish “ta”:

Spanish ta

Here, you can see that the line is much thicker, with charcoal covering the alveolar ridge as well as the teeth. Spanish has a laminal denti-alveolar articulation for /t/. Denti-alveolar refers to the contact with both the teeth and the alveolar ridge. Laminal refers to the thicker pattern you see on the palate and also the tongue. Not just the  tongue tip, but also tongue body contact is present.

Static palatography shows us the precise place of articulation of consonants. Stay tuned for blog posts showing the different articulations we can discover using static palatography!

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