Alveolar ridge

Alveolar ridge

An alveolar ridge (also known as the alveolar margin) is one of the two jaw ridges either on the roof of the mouth between the upper teeth and the hard palate or on the bottom of the mouth behind the lower teeth. The alveolar ridges contain the sockets (alveoli) of the teeth. You can touch their shapes by moving your tongue in the area right above or beneath the teeth sockets. Its surface is covered with little ridges. You can only see these with a mirror small enough to go inside your mouth. Sounds made with the tongue touching the alveolar ridge while speaking are called alveolar. Alveolar consonants are, for instance, [t], [d], [s], [z], [n], [l] like in the words time, dragon, superman, zeal, nasty and lollipop. When pronouncing these sounds you can feel your tongue touching ([t], [d], [n]), or nearly touching ([s], [z]) the upper alveolar ridge which can also be referred to as gum ridge.

In many languages consonants are articulated with the tongue on (touching), or close to (without touching) the upper alveolar ridge. The former are called alveolar plosives, and the latter alveolar fricatives. See also alveolar consonant.

See also: List of phonetic topics


Roach, Peter: English Phonetics and Phonology. Cambridge University Press, 2004.

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