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Voiceless dental and alveolar stops

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Voiceless dental and alveolar stops

Voiceless alveolar stop
IPA number 103
Entity (decimal) t
Unicode (hex) U+0074
Kirshenbaum t
Braille ⠞ (braille pattern dots-2345)

The voiceless alveolar stop is a type of consonantal sound used in many spoken languages. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents voiceless dental, alveolar, and postalveolar stops is t, and the equivalent X-SAMPA symbol is t. The dental stop can be distinguished with the underbridge diacritic, , the postalveolar with a retraction line, , and the Extensions to the IPA have a double underline diacritic which can be used to explicitly specify an alveolar pronunciation, .

The [t] sound is a very common sound cross-linguistically;[1] the most common consonant phonemes of the world's languages are [t], [k] and [p]. Most languages have at least a plain [t], and some distinguish more than one variety. Some languages without a [t] are Hawaiian (except for Ni‘ihau; Hawaiian uses a voiceless velar stop when adopting loanwords with [t]), colloquial Samoan (which also lacks an [n]), and Nǁng of South Africa.


  • Features 1
  • Occurrence 2
    • Alveolar 2.1
    • Dental or denti-alveolar 2.2
    • Variable 2.3
  • See also 3
  • References 4
  • Bibliography 5


Here are features of the voiceless alveolar stop:

  • Its manner of articulation is occlusive, which means it is produced by obstructing airflow in the vocal tract. Since the consonant is also oral, with no nasal outlet, the airflow is blocked entirely, and the consonant is a stop.
  • There are four specific variants of [t]:
    • Dental, which means it is articulated with either the tip or the blade of the tongue at the upper teeth, termed respectively apical and laminal.
    • Denti-alveolar, which means it is articulated with the blade of the tongue at the alveolar ridge, and the tip of the tongue behind upper teeth.
    • Alveolar, which means it is articulated with either the tip or the blade of the tongue at the alveolar ridge, termed respectively apical and laminal.
    • Postalveolar, which means it is articulated with either the tip or the blade of the tongue behind the alveolar ridge, termed respectively apical and laminal.
  • Its phonation is voiceless, which means it is produced without vibrations of the vocal cords. In some languages the vocal cords are actively separated, so it is always voiceless; in others the cords are lax, so that it may take on the voicing of adjacent sounds.
  • 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.



Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Adyghe тфы     'five'
Arabic Egyptian توكة tōka [ˈtoːkæ] 'barrette' See Egyptian Arabic phonology
Standard تين tīn [tiːn] 'fig' Articulation may be alveolar or dental depending on the speaker's native dialect. See Arabic phonology
Assyrian Neo-Aramaic [bet̪a] 'house' Most speakers. In the Tyari, Barwari and Chaldean Neo-Aramaic dialects θ is used.
Czech toto [ˈtoto] 'this' See Czech phonology
Danish Standard[2] dåse [ˈtɔ̽ːsə] 'can (n.)' Usually transcribed /d̥/ or /d/. Contrasts with the affricate [t͡s] or aspirated stop [tʰ] (depending on the dialect), which are usually transcribed /tˢ/ or /t/.[3] See Danish phonology
Dutch[4] taal [taːɫ] 'language' See Dutch phonology
English Most speakers tick [tʰɪk] 'tick' See English phonology
New York[5] Varies between apical and laminal, with the latter being predominant.[5]
Finnish parta [ˈpɑrtɑ] 'beard' Allophone of the voiceless dental stop. See Finnish phonology
Hebrew תמונה [tmuna] 'image' see Modern Hebrew phonology
Hungarian[6] tutaj [ˈtutɒj] 'raft' See Hungarian phonology
Japanese[7] 特別 tokubetsu [tokɯbetsɯ] 'special' See Japanese phonology
Kabardian тхуы About this sound    'five'
Korean teok [tʰʌk̚] 'jaw' See Korean phonology
Luxembourgish[8] dënn [tɵ̞n] 'thin' Less often voiced [d]. It is usually transcribed /d/, and it contrasts with voiceless aspirated form, which is usually transcribed /t/.[8] See Luxembourgish phonology
Malay tahun [tähon] 'year' See Malay phonology
Maltese tassew [tasˈsew] 'true'
Nunggubuyu[9] [taɾawa] 'greedy'
Nuosu da [ta˧] 'place' Contrasts aspirated and unaspirated forms
Portuguese[10] Some dialects troço [ˈtɾɔsu] 'thing' (pejoratively) Allophone before alveolar /ɾ/. In other dialects /ɾ/ takes a denti-alveolar allophone instead. See Portuguese phonology
Thai ta [taː˥˧] 'eye'
Vietnamese ti [ti] 'flaw' See Vietnamese phonology
West Frisian tosk [ˈtosk] 'tooth'
Voiceless dental stop

Dental or denti-alveolar

Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Aleut[11] tiistax̂ [t̪iːstaχ] 'dough' Laminal denti-alveolar.
Armenian Eastern[12] տուն     'house' Laminal denti-alveolar.
Belarusian[13] стагоддзе [s̪t̪äˈɣod̪d̪͡z̪ʲe] 'century' Laminal denti-alveolar. See Belarusian phonology
Basque toki [t̪oki] 'place' Laminal denti-alveolar.
Bengali তুমি [t̪umi] 'you' Laminal denti-alveolar, contrasts with aspirated form. See Bengali phonology
Catalan[14] tothom [t̪uˈt̪ɔm] 'everyone' Laminal denti-alveolar. See Catalan phonology
Chinese Hakka[15] ta3 [t̪ʰa˧] 'he/she' Laminal denti-alveolar, contrasts with an unaspirated form.
Dinka[16] th [mɛ̀t̪] 'child' Laminal denti-alveolar, contrasts with alveolar /t/.
Dutch Belgian taal [t̪aːl̪] 'language' Laminal denti-alveolar.
English Dublin[17] thin [t̪ʰɪn] 'thin' Laminal denti-alveolar, corresponds to [θ] in other dialects; in Dublin it may be [t͡θ] instead.[17] See English phonology
Southern Irish[18]
Ulster[19] train [t̪ɹeːn] 'train' Laminal denti-alveolar. Allophone of /t/ before /r/, in free variation with an alveolar stop.
Finnish tutti [ˈt̪ut̪ːi] 'pacifier' Laminal denti-alveolar. See Finnish phonology
French[20] tordu [t̪ɔʁd̪y] 'crooked' Laminal denti-alveolar. See French phonology
Hindustani[21] तीन / تین [t̪iːn] 'three' Laminal denti-alveolar. Contrasts with aspirated form. See Hindustani phonology
Indonesian[22] tabir [t̪abir] 'curtain' Laminal denti-alveolar.
Italian[23] tale [ˈt̪ale] 'such' Laminal denti-alveolar. See Italian phonology
Kashubian[24] Laminal denti-alveolar.
Kyrgyz[25] туз [t̪us̪] 'salt' Laminal denti-alveolar.
Latvian[26] tabula [ˈt̪äbulä] 'table' Laminal denti-alveolar. See Latvian phonology
Marathi बला [t̪əbˈlaː] 'tabla' Laminal denti-alveolar, contrasts with aspirated form. See Marathi phonology
Nunggubuyu[9] [t̪aɾaɡ] 'whiskers' Laminal denti-alveolar.
Pazeh[27] [mut̪apɛt̪aˈpɛh] 'keep clapping' Dental.
Polish[28] tom     'volume' Laminal denti-alveolar. See Polish phonology
Portuguese[29] Many dialects montanha [mõˈt̪ɐɲɐ] 'mountain' Laminal denti-alveolar. Likely to have allophones among native speakers, as it may affricate to [], [] and/or [ts] in certain environments. See Portuguese phonology
Punjabi ਤੇਲ [t̪eːl] 'oil' Laminal denti-alveolar.
Russian[30] толстый [ˈt̪ʷo̞ɫ̪s̪t̪ɨ̞j] 'fat' Laminal denti-alveolar. See Russian phonology
Slovene[31] tip [t̪íːp] 'type' Laminal denti-alveolar.
Spanish[32] tango [ˈt̪ãŋɡo̞] 'tango' Laminal denti-alveolar. See Spanish phonology
Swedish[33] tåg [ˈt̪ʰoːɡ] 'train' Laminal denti-alveolar. See Swedish phonology
Temne[34] -- Dental.
Turkish at [ät̪] 'horse' Laminal denti-alveolar. See Turkish phonology
Ukrainian[35] брат [brɑt̪] 'brother' Laminal denti-alveolar. See Ukrainian phonology
Uzbek[36] -- Laminal denti-alveolar. Slightly aspirated before vowels.[36]
Vietnamese[37] tuần [t̪wən˨˩] 'week' Laminal denti-alveolar, contrasts with aspirated form. See Vietnamese phonology
Zapotec Tilquiapan[38] tant [t̪ant̪] 'so much' Laminal denti-alveolar.


Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
English Broad South African[39] talk [toːk] 'talk' Denti-alveolar for some speakers, alveolar for other speakers.[39][40][41]
Scottish[40] [tʰɔk]
Welsh[41] [tʰɒːk]
German Standard[42] Tochter [ˈtɔxtɐ] 'daughter' Varies between laminal denti-alveolar, laminal alveolar and apical alveolar.[42] See Standard German phonology
Greek[43] τρία tria [ˈtria] 'three' Varies between dental, denti-alveolar and alveolar, depending on the environment.[43] See Modern Greek phonology
Norwegian Standard Eastern[44] dans [tɑns] 'dance' Varies between laminal denti-alveolar and laminal alveolar. It is usually transcribed /d/. It may be partially voiced [], and it contrasts with voiceless aspirated form, which is usually transcribed /t/.[44] See Norwegian phonology
Persian[45] توت [tut] 'berry' Varies between laminal denti-alveolar and apical alveolar.[45] See Persian phonology
Slovak[46][47] to [to̞] 'that' Varies between laminal denti-alveolar and laminal alveolar.[46][47] See Slovak phonology

See also


  1. ^ Liberman et al. (1967), p. ?.
  2. ^ Basbøll (2005), p. 61.
  3. ^ Grønnum (2005), p. 120.
  4. ^ Gussenhoven (1992), p. 45.
  5. ^ a b Wells (1982b), p. 515.
  6. ^ Szende (1994), p. 91.
  7. ^ Okada (1991), p. 94.
  8. ^ a b Gilles & Trouvain (2013), pp. 67–68.
  9. ^ a b Ladefoged (2005), p. 158.
  10. ^ Palatalization in Brazilian Portuguese revisited (Portuguese)
  11. ^ Ladefoged (2005), p. 165.
  12. ^ Dum-Tragut (2009), p. 17.
  13. ^ Padluzhny (1989), p. 47.
  14. ^ Carbonell & Llisterri (1992), p. 53.
  15. ^ Lee & Zee (2009), p. 109.
  16. ^ Remijsen & Manyang (2009), pp. 115 and 121.
  17. ^ a b Collins & Mees (2003), p. 302.
  18. ^ Roca & Johnson (1999), p. 24.
  19. ^
  20. ^ Fougeron & Smith (1993), p. 73.
  21. ^ Ladefoged (2005), p. 141.
  22. ^ Soderberg & Olson (2008), p. 210.
  23. ^ Rogers & d'Arcangeli (2004), p. 117.
  24. ^
  25. ^ Kara (2003), p. 11.
  26. ^ Nau (1998), p. 6.
  27. ^ Blust (1999), p. 330.
  28. ^ Jassem (2003), p. 103.
  29. ^ Cruz-Ferreira (1995), p. 91.
  30. ^ Jones & Ward (1969), p. 99.
  31. ^ Pretnar & Tokarz (1980), p. 21.
  32. ^ Martínez-Celdrán, Fernández-Planas & Carrera-Sabaté (2003), p. 255.
  33. ^ Engstrand (1999), p. 141.
  34. ^ Ladefoged & Maddieson (1996), p. ?.
  35. ^
  36. ^ a b Sjoberg (1963), p. 10.
  37. ^ Thompson (1959), pp. 458–461.
  38. ^ Merrill (2008), p. 108.
  39. ^ a b Lass (2002), p. 120.
  40. ^ a b Scobbie, Gordeeva & Matthews (2006), p. 4.
  41. ^ a b Wells (1982a), p. 388.
  42. ^ a b Mangold (2005), p. 47.
  43. ^ a b Arvaniti (2007), p. 10.
  44. ^ a b Kristoffersen (2000), p. 22.
  45. ^ a b Mahootian (2002:287–289)
  46. ^ a b Kráľ (1988), p. 72.
  47. ^ a b Pavlík (2004), pp. 98–99.


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