Dental consonant

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 usually distinguished from sounds in which contact is made with the tongue and the gum ridge, as in English (see alveolar consonant) because of the acoustic similarity of the sounds and the fact that in the Roman alphabet, they are generally written using the same symbols (like t, d, n).

In the International Phonetic Alphabet, the diacritic for dental consonant is U+032A ◌̪ COMBINING BRIDGE BELOW.



For many languages, such as Albanian, Irish and Russian, velarization is generally associated with more dental articulations of coronal consonants. Thus, velarized consonants, such as Albanian /ɫ/, tend to be dental or denti-alveolar, and 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 stops that occur phonemically as voiced and voiceless and with or without aspiration. The nasal /n/ also exists but is quite alveolar and apical in articulation. To native speakers, the English alveolar /t/ and /d/ sound more like the corresponding retroflex consonants of their languages than like dentals.

Spanish /t/ and /d/ are 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] [4]

Although denti-alveolar consonants are often described as dental, it is the point of contact farthest to the back that is most relevant, defines the maximum acoustic space of resonance and gives a characteristic sound to a consonant.[5] In French, the contact that is farthest back is alveolar or sometimes slightly pre-alveolar.


Dental/denti-alveolar consonants as transcribed by the International Phonetic Alphabet include:

IPA Description Example
Language Orthography IPA Meaning
n̪ dental nasal Russian банк [bak] 'bank'
t̪ voiceless dental stop Finnish tutti [ut̪t̪i] 'pacifier'
d̪ voiced dental stop Arabic دين [iːn] 'religion'
voiceless dental sibilant fricative Polish kosa [kɔa] 'scythe'
voiced dental sibilant fricative Polish koza [kɔa] 'goat'
θ voiceless dental nonsibilant fricative
(also often called "interdental")
English thing [θɪŋ]
ð voiced dental nonsibilant fricative
(also often called "interdental")
English this [ðɪs]
ð̞ dental approximant Spanish codo [koð̞o] 'elbow'
l̪ dental lateral approximant Spanish alto [at̪o] 'tall'
r̪ dental trill Hungarian ró [oː] 'to carve'
t̪ʼ dental ejective
ɗ̪ voiced dental implosive
ǀ dental click Xhosa ukúcola [ukʼúkǀola] 'to grind fine'

See also


  1. ^ Recasens & Espinosa (2005:4)
  2. ^ Martínez-Celdrán, Fernández-Planas & Carrera-Sabaté (2003:257)
  3. ^ Rogers & d'Arcangeli (2004:117)
  4. ^ Real Academia Española (2011)
  5. ^ Ladefoged and Maddieson (1996),.


  • Ladefoged, Peter; Maddieson, Ian (1996). The Sounds of the World's Languages. Oxford: Blackwell. ISBN 978-0-631-19815-4.
  • 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
  • Real Academia Española; Association of Spanish Language Academies (2011), Nueva Gramática de la lengua española (English: New Grammar of the Spanish Language), 3 (Fonética y fonología), Espasa, ISBN 978-84-670-3321-2
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 (the 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 characteristics. 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 that are not palatalized like English palato-alveolar sh, or retroflex. To disambiguate, the bridge ([s̪, t̪, n̪, l̪], etc.) may be used for a dental consonant, or the under-bar ([s̠, t̠, n̠, l̠], etc.) may be used for the postalveolars. Note that [s̪] differs from dental [θ] in that the former is a sibilant and the latter is not. [s̠] differs from postalveolar [ʃ] in being unpalatalized. The bare letters [s, t, n, l], etc. cannot be assumed to specifically represent alveolars. The language may not make such distinctions, such that two or more coronal places of articulation 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: [s͇, t͇, n͇, l͇], etc., though that could also mean extra-retracted. The letters ⟨s, t, n, l⟩ 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 [p͇, b͇, m͇, f͇, v͇], where the lower lip contacts the alveolar ridge.)

Alveolar stop

In phonetics and phonology, an alveolar stop is a type of consonantal sound, made with the tongue in contact with the alveolar ridge located just behind the teeth (hence alveolar), held tightly enough to block the passage of air (hence a stop consonant). The most common sounds are the stops [t] and [d], as in English toe and doe, and the voiced nasal [n]. The 2-D finite element mode of the front part of the midsagittal tongue can stimulate the air pressed release of an alveolar stop. Alveolar consonants in children’s productions have generally been demonstrated to undergo smaller vowel-related coarticulatory effects than labial and velar consonants, thus yielding consonant-specific patterns similar to those observed in adults.

The upcoming vowel target is adjusted to demand force and effort during the coarticulating process. More generally, several kinds are distinguished:

[t], voiceless alveolar stop

[d], voiced alveolar stop

[n], voiced alveolar nasal

[n̥], voiceless alveolar nasal

[tʼ], alveolar ejective

[ɗ ], voiced alveolar implosive

[ɗ̥ ] or [tʼ↓] voiceless alveolar implosive (very rare)Note that alveolar and dental stops are not always carefully distinguished. Acoustically, the two types of sounds are similar, and it is rare for a language to have both types.

If necessary, an alveolar consonant can be transcribed with the combining equals sign below ⟨◌͇⟩, as with ⟨t͇⟩ for the voiceless alveolar stop. A dental consonant can be transcribed with the combining bridge below ⟨t̪⟩, and a postalveolar consonant with the retraction diacritic, the combining minus sign below ⟨t̠⟩.


In Aboriginal cultures of south-east Australia, Daramulum (variations: Darhumulan, Daramulan, Dhurramoolun or Dharramaalan) (“one legged”, from dharra 'leg, thigh' + maal 'one' + -an suffix) is a sky hero associated with Baiame, and an emu-wife. He is a shapeshifter.Engravings of Daramulum are sometimes accompanied by indentations that may represent star groups.Daramulum is depicted on rock art off Elvina Track in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, near to a carving of his emu-wife. He is depicted in semi-profile, with one arm, an emu-back (i.e. pointed buttocks), and a large foot.His voice can be heard through the medium of the bullroarer which is whirled through the air during initiation ceremonies. He now lives in the trees of the bush, particularly in the burls or growths which are found on the trunks of trees, and only leaves them for initiation ceremonies. The bullroarer must be cut from a tree which contains his spirit for it to work.For the Guringai, Daramulum is represented by the Alpha Crucis of the Southern Cross, with the remainder of the Cross representing the head of his emu wife (of the emu in the sky constellation).A religion centred on Darhumulan is an identifying feature of the Yuin nation.


Dental may refer to:

Having to do with teeth

Dentistry, a medical profession dealing with teeth

Dental consonant, in linguistics

Dental Records, an independent UK record label

Dental Hygienist, a person who cleans teeth in a Dental office

Dental Assistant, a person who assists Dentist in a Dental office

Dental technician, a person who makes dentures

General Dental Council, a United Kingdom organization which regulates all dental professionals in the country

Denti-alveolar consonant

In linguistics, a denti-alveolar consonant or dento-alveolar consonant is a consonant that is articulated with a flat tongue against the alveolar ridge and upper teeth, such as /t/ and /d/ in languages such as Spanish and French. That is, a denti-alveolar consonant is one that is alveolar and laminal.

Although denti-alveolar consonants are often labeled as "dental" because only the forward contact with the teeth is visible, the point of contact of the tongue that is farthest back is most relevant, defines the maximum acoustic space of resonance and gives a characteristic sound to a consonant.In French, the contact that is farthest back is alveolar or sometimes slightly pre-alveolar. Spanish /t/ and /d/ are laminal denti-alveolar, and /l/ and /n/ are alveolar but assimilate to a following /t/ or /d/. Similarly, Italian /t/, /d/, /t͡s/, /d͡z/ are denti-alveolar, and /l/ and /n/ are alveolar.The dental clicks are also laminal denti-alveolar.

English irregular verbs

The English language has a large number of irregular verbs, approaching 200 in normal use—and significantly more if prefixed forms are counted. In most cases, the irregularity concerns the past tense (also called preterite) or the past participle.

The other inflected parts of the verb—the third person singular present indicative in -[e]s, and the present participle and gerund form in -ing—are formed regularly in most cases. There are a few exceptions: the verb be has irregular forms throughout the present tense; the verbs have, do, go and say have irregular -[e]s forms; and certain defective verbs (such as the modal auxiliaries) lack most inflection.

The irregular verbs include many of the most common verbs: the dozen most frequently used English verbs are all irregular. New verbs (including loans from other languages, and nouns employed as verbs) usually follow the regular inflection, unless they are compound formations from an existing irregular verb (such as housesit, from sit).

Irregular verbs in Modern English typically derive from verbs that followed more regular patterns at a previous stage in the history of the language. In particular, many such verbs derive from Germanic strong verbs, which make many of their inflected forms through vowel gradation, as can be observed in Modern English patterns such as sing–sang–sung. The regular verbs, on the other hand, with their preterites and past participles ending in -ed, follow the weak conjugation, which originally involved adding a dental consonant (-t or -d). Nonetheless, there are also many irregular verbs that follow or partially follow the weak conjugation.For information on the conjugation of regular verbs in English, as well as other points concerning verb usage, see English verbs.

German verbs

German verbs may be classified as either weak, with a dental consonant inflection, or strong, showing a vowel gradation (ablaut). Both of these are regular systems. Most verbs of both types are regular, though various subgroups and anomalies do arise; however, textbooks for learners often class all strong verbs as irregular. The only completely irregular verb in the language is sein (to be). There are more than 200 strong and irregular verbs, but there is a gradual tendency for strong verbs to become weak.As German is a Germanic language, the German verb can be understood historically as a development of the Germanic verb.

Germanic languages

The Germanic languages are a branch of the Indo-European language family spoken natively by a population of about 515 million people mainly in Europe, North America, Oceania, and Southern Africa.

The West Germanic languages include the three most widely spoken Germanic languages: English with around 360–400 million native speakers; German, with over 100 million native speakers; and Dutch, with 24 million native speakers. Other West Germanic languages include Afrikaans, an offshoot of Dutch, with over 7.1 million native speakers; Low German, considered a separate collection of unstandardized dialects, with roughly 0.3 million native speakers and probably 6.7–10 million people who can understand it (at least 5 million in Germany and 1.7 million in the Netherlands); Yiddish, once used by approximately 13 million Jews in pre-World War II Europe, and Scots, both with 1.5 million native speakers; Limburgish varieties with roughly 1.3 million speakers along the Dutch–Belgian–German border; and the Frisian languages with over 0.5 million native speakers in the Netherlands and Germany.

The main North Germanic languages are Danish, Faroese, Icelandic, Norwegian and Swedish, which have a combined total of about 20 million speakers.

The East Germanic branch included Gothic, Burgundian, and Vandalic, all of which are now extinct. The last to die off was Crimean Gothic, spoken until the late 18th century in some isolated areas of Crimea.The SIL Ethnologue lists 48 different living Germanic languages, 41 of which belong to the Western branch and six to the Northern branch; it places Riograndenser Hunsrückisch German in neither of the categories, but it is often considered a German dialect by linguists. The total number of Germanic languages throughout history is unknown as some of them, especially the East Germanic languages, disappeared during or after the Migration Period. Some of the West Germanic languages also did not survive past the Migration Period, including Lombardic. As a result of World War II, the German language suffered a significant loss of Sprachraum, as well as moribundness and extinction of several of its dialects. In the 21st century, its dialects are dying out anyway due to Standard German gaining primacy.The common ancestor of all of the languages in this branch is called Proto-Germanic, also known as Common Germanic, which was spoken in about the middle of the 1st millennium BC in Iron Age Scandinavia. Proto-Germanic, along with all of its descendants, is characterised by a number of unique linguistic features, most famously the consonant change known as Grimm's law. Early varieties of Germanic entered history with the Germanic tribes moving south from Scandinavia in the 2nd century BC, to settle in the area of today's northern Germany and southern Denmark.

Glossary of sound laws in the Indo-European languages

This glossary gives a general overview of the various sound laws that have been formulated by linguists for the various Indo-European languages. A concise description is given for each rule; more details are given in their articles.

Labiodental consonant

In phonetics, labiodentals are consonants articulated with the lower lip and the upper teeth.

Lateral consonant

A lateral is consonant in which the airstream proceeds along the sides of the tongue, but it is blocked by the tongue from going through the middle of the mouth. An example of a lateral consonant is the English l, as in Larry.

For the most common laterals, the tip of the tongue makes contact with the upper teeth (see dental consonant) or the upper gum (see alveolar consonant), but there are many other possible places for laterals to be made. The most common laterals are approximants and belong to the class of liquids, but lateral fricatives and affricates are also common in some parts of the world. Some languages, such as the Iwaidja and Ilgar languages of Australia, have lateral flaps, and others, such as the Xhosa and Zulu languages of Africa, have lateral clicks.

When pronouncing the labiodental fricatives [f] and [v], the lip blocks the airflow in the centre of the vocal tract, so the airstream proceeds along the sides instead. Nevertheless, they are not considered lateral consonants because the airflow never goes over the tongue. No known language makes a distinction between lateral and non-lateral labiodentals. Plosives are never lateral, but they may have lateral release. Nasals are never lateral either, but some languages have lateral nasal clicks. For consonants articulated in the throat (laryngeals), the lateral distinction is not made by any language, although pharyngeal and epiglottal laterals are reportedly possible.

Martuthunira language

Martuthunira is an extinct Australian Aboriginal language, that was the traditional language of the Martuthunira people of Western Australia.

The last fluent speaker of Martuthunira, Algy Paterson, died on 6 August 1995. From 1980 he worked with the linguist Alan Dench to preserve Martuthunira in writing, and it is from their work that most of our knowledge of Martuthunira today comes.


In traditional Icelandic grammar, ri-sagnir (Icelandic: "ri-verbs") is a term that refes to the four verbs in the language that have a -ri suffix in the past tense as opposed to a suffix containing a dental consonant such as -d or -ð. These verbs are also the only verbs in Icelandic which inflect with the mixed conjugation (is) except for the preterite-present verbs.

SAMPA chart

The following show the typical symbols for consonants and vowels used in SAMPA, an ASCII-based system based on the International Phonetic Alphabet. Note that SAMPA is not a universal system as it varies from language to language.

Tirax language

Tirax is an Oceanic language spoken in north east Malakula, Vanuatu.


In historical linguistics, transphonologization (also known as rephonologization or cheshirization, see below) is a type of sound change whereby a phonemic contrast that used to involve a certain feature X evolves in such a way that the contrast is preserved, yet becomes associated with a different feature Y.

For example, a language contrasting two words */sat/ vs. */san/ may evolve historically so that final consonants are dropped, yet the modern language preserves the contrast through the nature of the vowel, as in a pair /sa/ vs. /sã/. Such a situation would be described by saying that a former contrast between oral and nasal consonants has been transphonologized into a contrast between oral vs. nasal vowels.

The term transphonologization was coined by André-Georges Haudricourt. The concept was defined and amply illustrated by Hagège & Haudricourt; it has been mentioned by several followers of Panchronic phonology, and beyond.

Xiguan dialect

The Xiguan accent (Chinese: 西關口音) or Xiguan dialect (Chinese: 西關話), is a sub-dialect of the Guangzhou dialect of Cantonese, spoken in Xiguan. Cantonese takes Guangzhou dialect as its standard and Guangzhou dialect once took Xiguan as its standard. With an increasing number of outsiders moving in, Xiguan dialect can only be heard among the older population and it is near extinction. The Guangzhouhua Zidian (Chinese: 廣州話字典; literally: 'Guangzhou Dialect Dictionary') includes Xiguan alongside Nanhai and Hong Kong.

IPA topics

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