The voiced palato-alveolar fricative or voiced domed postalveolar fricative is a type of consonantal sound, used in some spoken languages. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is ⟨ʒ⟩, and the equivalent X-SAMPA symbol is Z. An alternative symbol used in some older and American linguistic literature is ⟨ž⟩, a z with a háček. The sound occurs in many languages and, as in English and French, may have simultaneous lip rounding ([ʒʷ]), although this is rarely indicated in transcription.
Although present in English, apart from loanwords, mainly from French (thus written with <g> and <j>), the sound is not represented by a specific letter or digraph, but is formed by yod-coalescence of [z] and [j] in words such as measure. In some transcriptions of alphabets such as Cyrillic, as well as the Wikipedia pronunciation respelling for English, the sound is represented by the digraph zh.
Features of the voiced palato-alveolar fricative:
- Its manner of articulation is sibilant fricative, which means it is generally produced by channeling air flow along a groove in the back of the tongue up to the place of articulation, at which point it is focused against the sharp edge of the nearly clenched teeth, causing high-frequency turbulence.
- Its place of articulation is palato-alveolar, that is, domed (partially palatalized) postalveolar, which means it is articulated with the blade of the tongue behind the alveolar ridge, and the front of the tongue bunched up ("domed") at the palate.
- Its phonation is voiced, which means the vocal cords vibrate during the articulation.
- 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.
The sound in Russian denoted by <ж> is commonly transcribed as a palato-alveolar fricative but is actually a laminal retroflex fricative.
See also 
- Cruz-Ferreira, Madalena (1995), "European Portuguese", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 25 (2): 90–94, doi:10.1017/S0025100300005223
- Dum-Tragut, Jasmine (2009), Armenian: Modern Eastern Armenian, Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company
- Fougeron, Cecile; Smith, Caroline L (1993), "French", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 23 (2): 73–76, doi:10.1017/S0025100300004874
- 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, doi:10.1017/S0025100308003344
- Shosted, Ryan K.; Chikovani, Vakhtang (2006), "Standard Georgian", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 36 (2): 255–264, doi:10.1017/S0025100306002659
- Watson, Janet (2002), The Phonology and Morphology of Arabic, New York: Oxford University Press