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An obstruent is a consonant sound such as [k], [d͡ʒ], or [f] that is formed by obstructing airflow, causing a strong gradient of air pressure in the vocal tract. Obstruents contrast with sonorants, which have no such obstruction.

Obstruents are subdivided into stops, such as [‏p, t, k, b, d, ɡ], with complete occlusion of the vocal tract, often followed by a release burst; fricatives, such as [f, s, ʃ, x, v, z, ʒ, ɣ], with limited closure, not stopping airflow but making it turbulent; and affricates, which begin with complete occlusion but then release into a fricative-like release. Obstruents are prototypically voiceless, though voiced obstruents are common. This contrasts with sonorants, which are prototypically voiced and only rarely voiceless.

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