Voiceless dental fricative

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Voiceless dental non-sibilant fricative
θ
IPA number 130
Encoding
Entity (decimal) θ
Unicode (hex) U+03B8
X-SAMPA T
Kirshenbaum T
Braille ⠨ (braille pattern dots-46) ⠹ (braille pattern dots-1456)
Sound

The voiceless dental non-sibilant fricative is a type of consonantal sound used in some oral languages. It is familiar to English speakers as the 'th' in thing. Though rather rare as a phoneme in the world's inventory of languages, it is encountered in some of the most widespread and influential (see below). The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is θ, and the equivalent X-SAMPA symbol is T. The IPA symbol is the Greek letter theta, which is used for this sound in Greek, and the sound is thus often referred to as "theta".

The dental non-sibilant fricatives are often called "interdental" because they are often produced with the tongue between the upper and lower teeth, and not just against the back of the upper or lower teeth, as they are with other dental consonants.

Among the more than 60 languages with over 10 million speakers, only English, Standard Arabic, European standard Spanish, Burmese, and Greek have the voiceless dental non-sibilant fricative. Speakers of languages and dialects without the sound sometimes have difficulty producing or distinguishing it from similar sounds, especially if they have had no chance to acquire it in childhood, and typically replace it with a voiceless alveolar fricative (/s/), voiceless dental stop (/t/), or a voiceless labiodental fricative (/f/; known respectively as th-alveolarization, th-stopping,[1] and th-fronting[2]).

Among Turkic languages, Bashkir and Turkmen have voiceless dental non-sibilant fricative.

The sound is known to have disappeared from a number of languages, e.g. from most of the Germanic languages or dialects, where it is retained only in English and Icelandic, but it is alveolar in the latter.[3][4]

Features[edit]

Features of the voiceless dental non-sibilant fricative:

  • Its manner of articulation is fricative, which means it is produced by constricting air flow through a narrow channel at the place of articulation, causing turbulence. It does not have the grooved tongue and directed airflow, or the high frequencies, of a sibilant.
  • Its place of articulation is dental, which means it is articulated with the tongue at either the upper or lower teeth, or both. (Most stops and liquids described as dental are actually denti-alveolar.)
  • 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.

Occurrence[edit]

Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Albanian thotë [θɔtə] 'says'
Arabic Standard[5] ثابت [ˈθaːbit] 'firm' See Arabic phonology. Represented by <ث>
Amami [θeda] 'sun'
Arapaho yoo3on [jɔːθɔn] 'bee'
Assyrian Neo-Aramaic [Beθa] 'house' Mostly used in the Tyari, Barwari, Tel Keppe, Batnaya
and Alqosh dialects; /t/ is widespread in the other varieties.
Bashkir уҫал [uθɑɫ] 'angry'
Berber Kabyle fa [faθ] 'to cut'
Berta [θɪ́ŋɑ̀] 'to eat'
Burmese သုံး thon: [θòʊ̃] 'three'
Cornish eth [ɛθ] 'eight'
Emiliano-Romagnolo
[citation needed]
faza [ˈfaːθɐ] 'face'
English thin [θɪn] 'thin' See English phonology
Galician Most dialects cero [ˈθɛɾʊ][6] 'zero' Descends from early /ts/ and /dz/
Greek θάλασσα [ˈθalasa] 'sea' See Modern Greek phonology
Gweno [riθo] 'eye'
Gwich’in th [θaɬ] 'pants'
Hän nihthän [nihθɑn] 'I want'
Harsusi [θəroː] 'two'
Hebrew Iraqi עברית [ʕibˈriːθ] 'Hebrew language' See Modern Hebrew phonology
Yemenite [ʕivˈriːθ]
Hlai Basadung [θsio] 'one'
Italian Tuscan[7] i capitani [iˌhäɸiˈθäːni] 'the captains' Intervocalic allophone of /t/; it may be an approximant [θ̞] instead.
See Italian phonology, Tuscan gorgia
Japanese [θuki] 'Moon' Only by some speakers; usually pronounced /ts/.
Karen Sgaw [θø˧] 'three'
Karuk [jiθa] 'one'
Kickapoo [nɛθwi] 'three'
Kwama [mɑ̄ˈθíl] 'to laugh'
Leonese ceru [θeɾu] 'zero'
Lorediakarkar [θar] 'four'
Massa [faθ] 'five'
Saanich ŦES [teθʔəs] 'eight'
Sardinian Nuorese petha [pɛθa] 'meat'
Shark Bay [θar] 'four'
Shawnee nthwi [nθwɪ] 'three'
Sioux Lakota ? [ktũˈθa] 'four'
Spanish Castilian[8] cazar [käˈθär] 'to hunt' Interdental. See Spanish phonology and Ceceo
Swahili thamini [θɑmini] 'value'
Tanacross thiit [θiːtʰ] 'embers'
Toda உஇனபஒ [wɨnboθ] 'nine'
Turkmen sekiz [θekið] 'eight'
Tutchone Northern tho [θo] 'pants'
Southern thü [θɨ]
Upland Yuman Havasupai [θerap] 'five'
Hualapai [θarap]
Yavapai [θerapi]
Wolaytta shiththa [ɕiθθa] 'flower'
Welsh saith [saiθ] 'seven'
Zhuang saw [θaːu˨˦] 'language'

Voiceless corono-dentoalveolar sibilant[edit]

Voiceless corono-dentoalveolar sibilant
θ

The voiceless corono-dentoalveolar sibilant is the only sibilant fricative in some dialects of Andalusian Spanish. It doesn't have an official symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet, and is usually represented by an ad-hoc symbol such as or θ.

Dalbor (1980) describes this sound as follows: "[s̄] is a voiceless, corono-dentoalveolar groove fricative, the so-called s coronal or s plana because of the relatively flat shape of the tongue body.... To this writer, the coronal [s̄], heard throughout Andalusia, should be characterized by such terms as "soft," "fuzzy," or "imprecise," which, as we shall see, brings it quite close to one variety of /θ/ … Canfield has referred, quite correctly, in our opinion, to this [s̄] as "the lisping coronal-dental," and Amado Alonso remarks how close it is to the post-dental [θ̦], suggesting a combined symbol ] to represent it."

Features[edit]

Features of the voiceless corono-dentoalveolar sibilant:

  • 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 denti-alveolar, which means it is articulated with a flat tongue against the alveolar ridge and upper teeth.
  • It is normally apical, which means it is pronounced with the very tip of the tongue.
  • 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.
  • Its manner of articulation is fricative, which means it is produced by constricting air flow through a narrow channel at the place of articulation, causing turbulence.
  • The airstream mechanism is pulmonic, which means it is articulated by pushing air solely with the lungs and diaphragm, as in most sounds.

Occurrence[edit]

Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Spanish Andalusian[9] casa [ˈka̠s̄a̠] 'house' Present in dialects with ceceo. See Spanish phonology

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Bibliography[edit]

External links[edit]