Change of Consonants – Phonetics

If vowels are the airwaves of language (though hold them for long enough, and water will collect in your mouth), then consonants are the flesh of language: the lips and tongue. We make the consonantal sounds by obstructing the flow of air through our mouths with the lips or tongue, sometimes with voice (for example, the letter b), sometimes without (its phonetic pair, the letter p).


According to where the consonants are pronounced in the mouth, they are divided into seven phonetic pairs. These pairs are extremely important in order to understand and make word connections in the English language, they form the basis of all word connections. They are:


b-p     d-t     f-v     g-k     l-r     m-n     s-z


There is also a very strong connection between the letters b-v-w (in modern Greek b is v, in Spanish v is b, in Latin v is w and in German w is v). This enables me to connect b/w-f (through the intermediary of v).


And finally, there are in English three apparently redundant consonants: c, q and x. The letter q represents k; x represents ks; and c represents k or s. This enables me to connect c-g/z.


Let us look at some examples. Word connections can be very mundane. An example of the phonetic pair b-p would be table and plate. A more theological example would be Babel and apple, two temptations that man succumbed to in the Book of Genesis, eating of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and then building a tower to rival heaven.


The phonetic pair d-t gives us bride and tribe, or child and light (remember how the letter c can be connected with g/z). Going back to Calderón de la Barca’s play Life Is a Dream, we see a connection between dream and matter. One of my favourite connections is rewind and winter (summer is resume).


On to f-v: the word devil has many connections. By repeating a letter, we have defile and fiddle, though my preferred connection (using the phonetic pair l-r) is differ: while the father would gather us together, the devil would make us differ.


On to g-k: think of a gale on a lake, or green energy, which is meant to be clean (again, c-g, I must also use l-r and a vowel pair, a-e; by the way, it is clear that the word green is contained in energy, with the subtraction of a letter, y, the semi-consonant that corresponds to the vowel I, the ego).


The phonetic pair l-r gives us life and fire (both of which are in rifle, which produces fire and is designed to take a life). A further example would be nail and rain (the image of rain can also be seen in hair). Apple and pear is another good example.


For m-n, we have planet, which can be connected to temple (vowel pair a-e) and template (repetition of e and t). This might make us think a little about our treatment of this planet. For s-z, we have eros and zero, a humbleness to love.


If we accept the eighth pair (or triplet), b-v-w, we can connect lover and revolve with flower through the intermediary of v. Flowers are lovers, and they can certainly turn heads! We might also connect breast and starve; without nourishment, we starve (see also fast and feast; starve is in harvest).


Can you make any connections with the following words, using the phonetic pairs?


3.0) ankle

3.1) law

3.2) temper


Previous: Change of Vowels; Next: Change of Consonants – Alphabet.