The Linguolabial Stops
When it comes to th’IPA Top of the Pops—
Prioritising phones from round the world
(From airstream to how much the tongue is curled)—
My favorites are the linguolabial stops.
Every year the excitement makes me pop:
‘What will be the winning phones this year?’
My mind is frozen, heart on hold in fear
Then they win again: the linguolabial stops!
When all the phones are lined up at the rope
In all their glory: manner, voice and place,
Which ones win our hearts—and win the race?—
As ever, it’s the linguolabial stops.
To make most sounds the tongue just flips and flops:
Any fool can form retracted dentals.
Yet the discipline—both physical and mental—
To articulate the linguolabial stops
Is something rare, refined, cream of the crop:
The upper tongue blade on the upper lip.
It’s tough, my friend, so focus, do not slip
And form that phone: a linguolabial stop.
We watch TV, make beds, pop to the shops
And so we pass our grey days to our death
Scarce knowing that the tongue placed so, plus breath
Gives life and love: the linguolabial stops.
When you find yourself alone, beyond all hope
In need of some unique articulation
Forget the velars, never mind phonation
It’s all about the linguolabial stops!
The IPA’s a rainbow lollipop,
A salad of sounds, a phonetic melting pot.
We love them all; ah yes, we love the lot
But most of all
beyond the rest
the very best
of very best
the Sunday suit
the steel-capped boot
the lover’s kiss
Gandalf the White
The dawn’s new light
The Johnny Depp
The Iggy Pop
A big Big Top
The ever-ready, strong and steady
Easy-goin’, fast and flowin’
Man’s best friend (it’s time to end)
The linguolabial stops