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Voiced alveolar sibilant
IPA number 133
Entity (decimal) z
Unicode (hex) U+007A
Kirshenbaum z
[[File:Template:IPA audio filename| center| 150px]]

[create] Documentation

The voiced alveolar fricatives are consonantal sounds. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents these sounds depends on whether a sibilant or non-sibilant fricative is being described.

  • The symbol for the alveolar sibilant is ⟨z⟩, and the equivalent X-SAMPA symbol is z. The IPA letter ⟨z⟩ is not normally used for dental or postalveolar sibilants unless modified by a diacritic (⟨⟩ and ⟨⟩ respectively).
  • The IPA symbol for the alveolar non-sibilant fricative is derived by means of diacritics; it can be ⟨ð̠⟩ or ⟨ɹ̝⟩.
Coronal fricatives
Dental Alveolar Postalveolar
retroflex palato-
sibilant ʐ ʒ ʑ
non-sibilant ð ð̠/ð͇/ɹ̝ ɻ̝

Voiced alveolar sibilant[]

The voiced alveolar sibilant is common across European languages but is relatively uncommon cross-linguistically compared to the voiceless variant. Only about 28% of the world's languages contain a voiced dental or alveolar sibilant. Moreover, 85% of the languages with some form of [z] are languages of Europe, Africa or Western Asia.

In the eastern half of Asia, the Pacific and the Americas, [z] is very rare as a phoneme. The presence of [z] in a given language always implies the presence of a voiceless [s].[citation needed]


Features of the voiced alveolar fricative:



  • It is an oral consonant, which means air is allowed to escape through the mouth only.
  • It is a central consonant, which means it is produced by directing the airstream along the center of the tongue, rather than to the sides.
  • The airstream mechanism is pulmonic, which means it is articulated by pushing air solely with the lungs and diaphragm, as in most sounds.


In the following transcriptions, diacritics may be used to distinguish between apical [z̺] and laminal [z̻].

Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Albanian zjarr [zjar] 'fire'
Arabic Standard[1] زائِر [ˈzaːʔir] 'visitor' See Arabic phonology
Armenian զարդ [zɑɾtʰ] align="center"| 'decoration'
Breton iliz [iliz] 'church'
Catalan[2][3] zel [ˈz̺ɛɫ] 'zeal' See Catalan phonology
Chechen зурма/zurma [zuɾma] 'music'
Czech zima [zɪma] 'winter' See Czech phonology
Dutch[4] zee [zeː] 'sea' Apical in some northern dialects. See Dutch phonology
English size [saɪz] 'size' See English phonology
French[5] zèbre [zɛbʀ] 'zebra' See French phonology
Georgian[6] არი [ˈzɑɾi] 'bell'
German süß [zyːs] 'sweet' See German phonology
Greek Athens dialect[7] ζάλη/záli [ˈz̻ali] 'dizziness' See Modern Greek phonology
Hebrew זאב [zeʔˈev] 'wolf' See Modern Hebrew phonology
Hindi ज़मीन [zəmiːn] 'land' See Hindi-Urdu phonology
Hungarian zálog [zaːloɡ] 'pledge' See Hungarian phonology
Italian[8] caso [ˈkazo] 'case' See Italian phonology
Japanese[9] 全部/zenbu [zembɯ] 'everything' See Japanese phonology
Kala Lagaw Ya zilamiz [zilʌmiz] 'go'
Kashmiri ज़ानुन, زانُن [zaːnun] 'to know'
Occitan Gascon casèrna [kazɛrno] 'barracks'
Languedocien ser [beze] 'to see'
Limousin jòune [ˈzɒwne] 'young'
Malay zaman [zaman] 'age, period'
Maltese zelu [zelu] 'zeal'
Polish[10] zero [ˈzɛrɔ] align="center"| 'zero' See Polish phonology
Portuguese[11] casa [ˈkazɐ] 'house' See Portuguese phonology
Romanian[12] zar [z̪ar] 'dice' See Romanian phonology.
Russian[13] заезжать/zaezžat}} [zəɪˈʑʑætʲ] 'to pick up' Contrasts with palatalized version. See Russian phonology
Slovak zima [zɪma] 'winter'
Swahili lazima [lɑzimɑ] 'must'
Turkish z [ɡœz] 'eye' See Turkish phonology
Ukrainian зуб [zub] 'tooth' See Ukrainian phonology
Urdu زمین [zəmiːn] 'land' See Hindi-Urdu phonology
Vietnamese Northern dialects da [zaː] 'skin' See Vietnamese phonology
West Frisian sizze [sɪzə] 'to say' Never occurs in word-initial positions.
Yi /ssy [zɿ˧] 'generation'
Yiddish zien [zin] 'son'
Zapotec Tilquiapan[14] guanaz [ɡʷanaz]

Template:Voiced alveolar non-sibilant fricative

See also[]



  • Adams, Douglas Q. (1975), "The Distribution of Retracted Sibilants in Medieval Europe", Language (Linguistic Society of America) 51 (2): 282–292, doi:10.2307/412855 
  • Carbonell, Joan F.; Llisterri, Joaquim (1992), "Catalan", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 22 (1-2): 53–56, doi:10.1017/S0025100300004618 
  • Cruz-Ferreira, Madalena (1995), "European Portuguese", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 25 (2): 90–94, doi:10.1017/S0025100300005223 
  • Fougeron, Cecile; Smith, Caroline L (1993), "Illustrations of the IPA:French", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 23 (2): 73–76, doi:10.1017/S0025100300004874 
  • Gussenhoven, Carlos (1992), "Dutch", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 22 (2): 45–47, doi:10.1017/S002510030000459X 
  • Jassem, Wiktor (2003), "Polish", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 33 (1): 103–107, doi:10.1017/S0025100303001191 
  • Honeybone, P (2001), "Lenition inhibition in Liverpool English", English Language and Linguistics 5 (2): 213–249 
  • Jones, Daniel; Dennis, Ward (1969), The Phonetics of Russian, Cambridge University Press 
  • Maddieson, Ian (1984), Patterns of Sound, Camebridge University Press 
  • Marotta, Giovanna; Barth, Marlen (2005), "Acoustic and sociolingustic aspects of lenition in Liverpool English", Studi Linguistici e Filologici Online 3 (2): 377–413, 
  • 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 
  • Merrill, Elizabeth (2008), "Tilquiapan Zapotec", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 38 (1): 107–114 
  • Okada, Hideo (1991), "Phonetic Representation:Japanese", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 21 (2): 94–97 
  • Pandeli, H; Eska, J; Ball, Martin; Rahilly, J (1997), "Problems of phonetic transcription: the case of the Hiberno-English slit-t", Journal of the International Phonetic Association'' 27: 65–75, doi:10.1017/S0025100300005430 
  • Rogers, Derek; d'Arcangeli, Luciana (2004), "Italian", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 34 (1): 117–121, doi:10.1017/S0025100304001628 
  • Shosted, Ryan K.; Vakhtang, Chikovani (2006), "Standard Georgian", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 36 (2): 255–264, doi:10.1017/S0025100306002659 
  • Torreblanca, Máximo (1988), "Latín Basium, Castellano Beso, Catalán Bes, Portugués Beijo", Hispanic Review (University of Pennsylvania Press) 56 (3): 343–348, doi:10.2307/474023 
  • Thelwall, Robin (1990), "Illustrations of the IPA: Arabic", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 20 (2): 37–41 
  • Wheeler, Max W (2005), The Phonology Of Catalan, Oxford: Oxford University Press, ISBN 0199258147 

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