Postalveolar consonant

Postalveolar consonant

Postalveolar consonants are consonants articulated with the tongue near or touching the "back" of the alveolar ridge, placing them a bit further back in the mouth than the alveolar consonants, which are at the ridge itself, but not as far back as the hard palate (the place of articulation for palatal consonants).

Among the fricatives and affricates, a subtype called "palato-alveolar" consonants (see below) are shown with examples in the table. The alveolo-palatal and retroflex consonants are also postalveolar in their point of articulation, but they are given separate columns in the IPA chart, and illustrated with examples in their own articles.

The palato-alveolar sibilants and postalveolar clicks identified by the International Phonetic Alphabet are:

Types of postalveolar fricatives and affricates

The difference between "palato-alveolar", "alveolo-palatal", "retroflex", and several other articulations is in the shape of the tongue rather than the location of the contact with the roof of the mouth. All are postalveolar in that sense.

One variable in tongue shape is whether the contact occurs with the very tip of the tongue (an "apical" articulation IPA| [ʃ̺] ); with the surface just above the tip, called the "blade" of the tongue (a "laminal" articulation IPA| [ʃ̻] ); or with the underside of the tip (a "sub-apical" articulation). Laminal articulations are often palatal, but may have postalveolar allophones.

A second variable is the amount of raising of the tongue behind this point of contact, which amounts to a degree of palatalization. From least to most palatalized, the attested possibilities are "flat" IPA| [s̠] , bunched-up or "domed" palato-alveolar IPA| [ʃ] , and alveolo-palatal IPA| [ɕ] . Of course, these possibilities may all be voiced as well: IPA| [z̠, ʒ, ʑ] .

There is an additional postalveolar articulation found in Circassian languages such as Ubyx: the tip of the tongue rests against the lower teeth so that there is no sublingual cavity. Ladefoged has called this a "closed" laminal postalveolar" articulation; Catford describes the fricatives as "hissing-hushing" sounds, and transcribes them as IPA| [ŝ, ẑ] ("note: this is not IPA notation"). Presumably this "closed" articulation may be combined with the other two as a third variable, but this is not attested.

The attested possibilities, with exemplar languages, are as follows. Note that the IPA diacritics are simplified; some articulations would require two diacritics to be fully specified, but only one is used in order to keep the results legible without the need for OpenType IPA fonts. Also, Ladefoged has resurrected an obsolete IPA symbol, the under dot, to indicate "apical postalveolar" (normally included in the category of retroflex consonants), and that notation is used here. (Note that the notation IPA|s̠, ṣ is sometimes reversed; either may also be called 'retroflex' and written IPA|ʂ.)

Other postalveolars

Some languages which distinguish "dental" vs. "alveolar" stops have something closer to prealveolar and postalveolar. Such is the case for Malayalam speakers who trill both of that language's rhotics: IPA| [r̟] vs. IPA| [r̠] . Since these are trills and therefore both apical, the latter is usually termed "retroflex".

However, in some non-standard forms of Malayalam, there is a laminal postalveolar nasal that contrasts with apical alveolar, palatal, and subapical retroflex nasals: IPA|m n̟ n͇ n̠ ɳ ɲ ŋ.

ee also

* Place of articulation
* Alveolo-palatal consonant
* Retroflex consonant
* List of phonetics topics



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