The main consonant chart of the IPA was covered in two earlier parts (you can see the whole series up here). In this post, I’ll cover the smaller box below the main one. This is the one labelled “non-pulmonic consonants”.
In this post, I’ll cover the vowel chart. The IPA divides up sounds based on their articulations, and vowels and consonants have fundamentally different kinds of articulation. In particular, consonants are sounds produced with obstruction in the vocal tract, while vowels are sound produced without any obstruction.
As I mentioned in the first post, consonants are characterized by obstruction of airflow, and the consonant chart is organized around this. Each row in the chart represents to what degree the airflow is being obstructed, and this is technically known as “manner of articulation”. The top row, “plosives”, are consonants produced with a brief period of silence where no air escapes at all. As we move down the rows, the constriction widens and more air flows, and the final row represents approximants which have the minimum degree of obstruction possible to still be a consonant.