Difference between “ma” and “ba”

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Can anyone tell me what’s the difference between what our mouth’s do when we make the “ma” and “ba” noises? I tried and I cannot find a single difference. They both seem like just separating the lips while pushing air out. I thought it might be that we just add more pressure to the lips on “ba” but that doesn’t seem like it. It might be a difference in pushing the air out. Idk I’m confused please help.

In: Biology

11 Answers

Anonymous 0 Comments

If you do it real slowly, you can kind of tell that “ma” starts on the front of your lips and you sort of roll your mouth open and “ba” starts on the back and it just sort of pops open. I don’t really know how to explain it better than that.

Anonymous 0 Comments

When you say “ma” a little bit of air goes through your nose and that changes the sound a little bit. It’s called a nasal consonant.

Anonymous 0 Comments

With Ma you blow through your nose as well, so the pressure doesn’t “build up” behind your lips. With Ba you build up pressure and pop your lips open, like a p but without really pressing your lips together, so the pop is lighter.

That said, different dialects and accents blur the lines all the time 🙂

Anonymous 0 Comments

B is more plosive. You’re expelling breath from your lips in a way that makes the sound harder. The difference between b and p is that p is not voiced, but it’s pretty much the same plosive as b otherwise.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Here’s a real ELI5:

Pinch your nose shut with your fingers and say “ma” and “ba”, and you’ll see for yourself that they’re different, and how they’re different. One of them is affected and the other isn’t.

(Spoiler: With “ma”, the “m” sound starts before the lips open, and the air comes out the nose. With “ba”, the “b” is formed *as* the lips open. With your nose not plugged, you can hold an “mmmm” as long as you want, but you can’t hold a “b”.)

Anonymous 0 Comments

B is a bilabial plosive. That is, both (bi) lips (labial) are together, completely stopping all air from flowing out before releasing it in a burst (plosive). Additionally, B is *voiced* meaning your vocal cords are tensed and used to make noise – as opposed to P, which is also a bilabial plosive, but which is unvoiced.

M is a [voiced] bilabial *nasal*. The similarity is the bilabial, where both lips are together. However, the flow of air is *not* stopped. Instead, air is directed through the nose (nasal). This is similar to N, which is an alveolar nasal – the tongue is placed against against the roof of your mouth and then air is pushed through the nose. There is also a voiced velar nasal, which in English is the -ng sound.

Anonymous 0 Comments

You can make an “m” sound without using your lips, just humming in your mouth. Can’t do that with “b”.

Anonymous 0 Comments

There’s a little door in the back of your mouth that swings open to let air go into your nose. When you say “b” the door is shut. When you say “m” the door is open. You might not be able to feel it in the back of your throat, but you can feel air coming out of your nose when you hold an “m” sound. Same with d and n!

Anonymous 0 Comments

With m, your nose is allowing air to come out because your nasal cavity (the path through your nose that eventually connects to the back of your mouth) is open BEFORE the release (you may not notice since it’s hard to find and consciously open/close this part of your mouth). With b, your nose is doing the opposite, the nasal cavity in the back of your mouth is being closed and no air can come out. Try making an m sound and a b sound without actually opening your mouth and releasing. The b is just silence or maybe sounds like a tiny man trapped in your mouth screaming.

I’m also assuming you’re a standard English speaker and I will add an additional fact, your TRUE pronunciation of b (maybe it will differ if you focus on it) actually doesn’t use your voice in the part before you release your mouth, which you CAN hear with the m. If you do use your voice before releasing your mouth, your nasal cavity will still be closed and that’s when you hear the little man screaming to be let free. If you use your voice initially and then continue using your voice as you release, you have achieved what some might consider the standard or *actual* b sound; the sound that most languages use (languages like mandarin and English are just weird lol). I don’t usually answer people on this app so I apologise if what I said is hard to follow.

Anonymous 0 Comments

If you want a less of an explanation and more of a visual, Glossika Phonics’ [m] and [b] videos on YouTube are pretty helpful.