Alveolar consonant

Alveolar consonant

Alveolar consonants are articulated with the tongue against or close to the superior alveolar ridge, which is called that because it contains the alveoli (the sockets) of the superior teeth. Alveolar consonants may be articulated with the tip of the tongue (so-called apical consonants), as in English, or with the flat of the tongue just above the tip (the "blade" of the tongue; called laminal consonants), as in French and Spanish. The laminal alveolar articulation is often mistakenly called dental, because the tip of the tongue can be seen near to or touching the teeth. However, it is the rearmost point of contact that defines the place of articulation; this is where the oral cavity ends, and it is the resonant space of the oral cavity that gives consonants and vowels their characteristic timbre.

The International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) does not have separate symbols for the alveolar consonants. Rather, the same symbol is used for all coronal places of articulation which aren't palatalized like English palato-alveolar sh, or retroflex. To disambiguate, the bridge , etc.) may be used for a dental consonant, or the under-bar , etc.) may be used for the postalveolars. Note that [s̪] differs from dental [θ] in being a sibilant, rather than a thibilant. [s̠] differs from postalveolar [ʃ] in being unpalatalized.

The bare letters , etc. cannot be assumed to specifically represent alveolars. The language may not make such distinctions, such that two or more coronal places are found allophonically, or the transcription may simply be too broad to distinguish dental from alveolar. If it is necessary to specify a consonant as alveolar, a diacritic from the Extended IPA may be used: , etc.. Nonetheless, the symbols themselves are frequently called 'alveolar', and the language examples below are all alveolar sounds.

(The Extended IPA diacritic was devised for speech pathology and is frequently used to mean 'alveolarized', as in the labioalveolar sounds , where the lower lip contacts the alveolar ridge.)

Alveolar consonants in IPA

The alveolar/coronal consonants identified by the IPA are:

IPA Description Example
Language Orthography IPA Meaning in English
alveolar nasal

English

run

[ɹʷɐn]

Run
voiceless alveolar plosive

English

tap

[tʰæp]

tap
voiced alveolar plosive

English

debt

[dɛt]

debt
voiceless alveolar fricative

English

suit

[sut]

suit
voiced alveolar fricative

English

zoo

[zu]

zoo
voiceless alveolar affricate

German

Zeit

[t͡saɪt]

time
voiced alveolar affricate

Italian

zucchero

d͡zukkero]

sugar
voiceless alveolar lateral fricative

Welsh

Llwyd

[ɬʊɪd]

the name Lloyd or Floyd
voiced alveolar lateral fricative

Zulu

dlala

ɮálà]

to play
alveolar approximant

English

red

[ɹʷɛd]

red
alveolar lateral approximant

English

loop

[lup]

loop
alveolar flap

Spanish

pero

[peɾo]

but
alveolar lateral flap

Venda

[vuɺa]

to open
alveolar trill

Spanish

perro

[pero]

dog
alveolar ejective

Georgian

[ia]

tulip
alveolar ejective fricative

Amharic

[ɛɡa]

grace
voiced alveolar implosive

Vietnamese

đã

[ɗɐː]

Past tense indicator
alveolar lateral click

Nama

ǁî

[kǁĩĩ]

discussed

See also

References

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