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Places of articulation

A dental consonant is a consonant articulated with the tongue against the upper teeth, such as /t/, /d/, /n/, and /l/ in some languages. Dentals are primarily distinguished from sounds in which contact is made with the tongue and the gum ridge, as in English (see Alveolar consonant), due to the acoustic similarity of the sounds and the fact that in the Roman alphabet they are generally written using the same symbols (t, d, n, and so on).

In the International Phonetic Alphabet, the diacritic for dental consonant is Template:IPA diacritic description

Dentals cross-linguistically[edit | edit source]

For many languages, such as Albanian, Irish or Russian, velarization is generally associated with more dental articulations of coronal consonants so that velarized consonants (such as Albanian /ɫ/) tend to be dental or denti-alveolar while non-velarized consonants tend to be retracted to an alveolar position.[1]

Sanskrit, Hindi and all other Indic languages have an entire set of dental plosives which occur phonemically as voiced and voiceless, and with or without aspiration. The nasal stop /n/ also exists in these languages, but is quite alveolar and apical in articulation.[How to reference and link to summary or text] To the Indian speaker, the alveolar /t/ and /d/ of English sound more like the corresponding retroflex consonants of his own language than like the dentals.[How to reference and link to summary or text]

Spanish /t/ and /d/ are laminal denti-alveolar[2] while /l/ and /n/ are prototypically alveolar but assimilate to the place of articulation of a following consonant. Likewise, Italian /t/, /d/, /t͡s/, /d͡z/ are denti-alveolar ([t̪], [d̪], [t̪͡s̪], and [d̪͡z̪] respectively) and /l/ and /n/ become denti-alveolar before a following dental consonant.[3]

Although denti-alveolar consonants are often described as dental, it is the rear-most point of contact that is most relevant, for this is what defines the maximum acoustic space of resonance and will give a consonant its characteristic sound.[4] In the case of French, the rear-most contact is alveolar or sometimes slightly pre-alveolar.

Dental consonants in the world's languages[edit | edit source]

The dental/denti-alveolar consonants as transcribed by the International Phonetic Alphabet are:

IPA Description Example
Language Orthography IPA Meaning
n + bridge below dental nasal Spanish onda d̪a] wave
t + bridge below voiceless dental plosive Spanish toro [oɾo] bull
d + bridge below voiced dental plosive Spanish donde [õn̪e] where
voiceless dental sibilant fricative Polish kosa [kɔa] scythe
voiced dental sibilant fricative Polish koza [kɔa] goat
Greek small letter theta voiceless dental nonsibilant fricative
(also often called "interdental")
English thing [θɪŋ] thing
Latin small letter eth voiced dental nonsibilant fricative
(also often called "interdental")
English this [ðɪs] this
ð + down tack below dental approximant Spanish codo [koð̞o] elbow
l + bridge below dental lateral approximant Spanish alto [at̪o] tall
ɾ + bridge below dental flap Spanish pero [peɾ̪o] but
r + bridge below dental trill Marshallese Ebadon [ebˠɑˠon̪] Ebadon
t + bridge below + modifier letter apostrophe dental ejective
ɗ + bridge below voiced dental implosive
Latin letter dental click dental click release Xhosa ukúcola [ukʼúkǀola] to grind fine

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Recasens & Espinosa (2005:4)
  2. Martínez-Celdrán, Fernández-Planas & Carrera-Sabaté (2003:257)
  3. Rogers & d'Arcangeli (2004:117)
  4. Ladefoged, Peter (1996). The Sounds of the World's Languages, Oxford: Blackwell. ISBN 0-631-19814-8.

Bibliography[edit | edit source]

  • Ladefoged, Peter (1996). The Sounds of the World's Languages, Oxford: Blackwell. ISBN 0-631-19814-8.
  • Martínez-Celdrán, Eugenio; Fernández-Planas, Ana Ma.; Carrera-Sabaté, Josefina (2003), "Castilian Spanish", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 33 (2): 255–259, doi:10.1017/S0025100303001373 
  • Recasens, Daniel; Espinosa, Aina (2005), "Articulatory, positional and coarticulatory characteristics for clear /l/ and dark /l/: evidence from two Catalan dialects", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 35 (1): 1–25, doi:10.1017/S0025100305001878 
  • Rogers, Derek; d'Arcangeli, Luciana (2004), "Italian", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 34 (1): 117–121, doi:10.1017/S0025100304001628 

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