Dental consonant

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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.

Dental
◌̪

Cross-linguistically

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 laminal denti-alveolar,[2] but /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.

Occurrence

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

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

References

Sources

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