Lax sounds are produced with minimal tension in the tongue or a more retracted tongue root. They contrast with tense sounds that are also said to be [+ATR]; such sounds are characterized by the greater tension in the articulators caused by pulling the tongue root forward. English [i] (as in beet) is a tense sound compared to English [ɪ] (as in bit) which is the lax equivalent.
Gaelic has a tense/lax contrast in its sonorants (l, n, r); the contrast is sometimes referred to a fortis/lenis distinction, where fortis is to tense as lenis is to lax.
- Fortis (definition)
- Tense in Phonetics (definition)
- Advanced Tongue Root (definition)
- Sounds of Scottish Gaelic
The link below takes you away from the Gaelic Wiki to Wikipedia. Since wikipedia pages can be edited by anyone, they often contain inaccurate information. So be careful!
- Ladefoged, D. (2010) A Course in Phonetics. 6th Edition. Wadsworth Publishing.