Talk:Voiceless alveolar sibilant

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about's reversion of "vandalism". (see Wikipedia:Vandalism for a definition, adding a paragraph on the cross-linguistic frequency of a sound is not vandalism)

(I'm not sure if this Talk: page is appropriate for this). All the human language sounds articles such as this one currently contain links in titles such as 'In English'. This is imho ugly. Moreover, the Wikipedia manual of style states:

"Avoid links within headers. Depending on settings, some users may not see them clearly. It is much better to put the appropriate link in the first sentence under the header."

It is quite a bit of work to change this on all these articles, but I think it should be done. I am not sure what the best way is, but I certainly do not want to go into a revert war over this. --Lenthe 21:37, 10 July 2005 (UTC)

Fricative or sibilant?[edit]

Kwamikagami's edit of 10 August changed some, but not all, occurences of "voiceless alveolar fricative" to "voiceless alveolar sibilant". Not knowing myself which is more correct I've restored 'fricative'. If it should be changed to 'sibilant', then all occurences in the article should be changed and the page renamed. IceKarma 22:44, 23 August 2005 (UTC)

Sibilants are a subtype of fricative. However, there are alveolar fricatives besides [s] and [z]. The name of the article is appropriate, but there should perhaps be subcategories in the article. kwami 01:59, 2005 August 24 (UTC)


I see many charts listing the IPA [s] as dental. I've also seen a description of the sound that makes the person touch their bottom row of teeth while pronouncing it. I tried it and it sounds similar. What is this phenomenon? -Iopq 05:17, 19 October 2005 (UTC)

IPA [s] may be dental, alveolar, or postalveolar - the symbol is intentionally ambiguous. (The title of the article is misleading.)
No sound requires that you touch the lower teeth. This is probably a way to get you to make a laminal [s]. Which language was the description for? kwami 06:00, 19 October 2005 (UTC)
I've seen this in descriptions of Ukrainian. -Iopq 21:06, 19 October 2005 (UTC)

In my humble opinion, it's not possible to understand the definite way of articulation of the letter "s" Here

"Its place of active articulation is usually laminal, meaning that the tongue blade (the part just behind the top) contacts the alveolar ridge, with the tongue tip resting behind the lower front teeth. However, according to Ladefoged and Maddieson,[3] an apical articulation (with the tongue tip touching the alveolar ridge) is also possible, with in fact about an equal number of English speakers using each of the two types."

which alveolar ridges (in bold) are meant (upper or lower)? And "behind the lower front teeth" above means that the tip of the tongue touches the upper alveolar ridge? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:35, 8 June 2013 (UTC)

Always the upper ridge in phonetics. No, it means exactly what it says; the blade (the active articulator) touches the alveolar ridge and the tip rests on/behind the lower teeth/gums (doing nothing :-). — Lfdder (talk) 13:18, 8 June 2013 (UTC)

merge with Voiceless apicoalveolar fricative[edit]

I think it's a bit excessive having a separate page for this just as having one for a palatalized uvular ejective would. Any thoughts? Ƶ§œš¹ [aɪm ˈfɻɛ̃ⁿdˡi] 13:26, 15 February 2007 (UTC)

The alveolar fricative and the apicoalveolar fricative are two different fricatives. For example, Basque has a laminal fricative and an apicoalveolar fricative. Also, the occurrence of apicoalveolar fricatives is in several major languages of the world and it needs a page to describe them. If we merge the pages with alveolar fricatives, then they need to expanded to include the various alveolar fricatives. azalea_pomp
I think that the alveolar fricative pages can tolerate explaining the distinction. Would you suggest that there be a distinction like with the sibilant non-sibilant versions already on the page? Ƶ§œš¹ [aɪm ˈfɻɛ̃ⁿdˡi] 03:36, 16 February 2007 (UTC)
Yes that distinction as well as one for the laminal fricatives. Since both the laminal and apical use the alveolar ridge, the laminals use the blade of the tongue while the apicals use the tip of the tongue. The occurrence section will have to be subdivded as Basque makes a distinction between laminal and apical voiceless fricatives as well as some Portuguese dialects I believe. Several varities of Spanish (most of the Iberia and one of Colombia), Catalan, Gascon, several Occitan dialects, and Greek have apico-alveolar fricatives. I am not sure if you have ever heard an apicoalveolar fricative, but it does have a whistling quality as several of my sources I listed also mention. azalea_pomp
That seems a bit excessive; having separate sections and separate tables/lists that is. Mentioning the contrast and illuminating the reader on the distinctions is perfectly appropriate. Also, having one table but using diacritics to show the contrast would be helpful enough to the reader. Ƶ§œš¹ [aɪm ˈfɻɛ̃ⁿdˡi] 06:35, 16 February 2007 (UTC)
It just seems to me that merging pages should only be done if essentially the same information exists on both pages. Since this sound is distinctly different from the other, I don't see the logic in eliminating this page.

Spanish example[edit]

I wonder about the choice of saltador and the English translation "jumper" to represent Spanish in the table. For one thing, the three-syllable word is not among the most common in Spanish, and the translation "jumper" could be mistaken for a garment (what Americans call a sweater) rather than "one who jumps." — (talk) 20:01, 2 December 2009 (UTC)

What example would you rather see? — Ƶ§œš¹ [aɪm ˈfɻɛ̃ⁿdˡi] 02:59, 3 December 2009 (UTC)

Hiberno-English example[edit]

I'm a native speaker of Hiberno-English and I don't pronounce "attain" with the fricative in question but with normal plosive t. I believe this is always the case when the following syllable is accented. A better example would be "better", or "slit", but I'd prefer someone more expert do the IPA rendering. ­— Éamonn McManus 16:44, 11 January 2010 (UTC)

I used an example from the source that backs this fact up at Hiberno-English. — Ƶ§œš¹ [aɪm ˈfɹ̠ˤʷɛ̃ɾ̃ˡi] 20:35, 11 January 2010 (UTC)

Merge with Voiceless apico-alveolar fricative (again)[edit]

As I proposed the last time there were two separate articles, I think we should not have two separate alveolar sibilant pages:

  1. In this case, keeping two separate articles does not add to the reader's understanding of the topic in any way that having one article could not do; indeed, keeping information in two different places can actually spread the knowledge too thin.
  2. The apico-alveolar and the lamino-alveolar sibilants are similar acoustically, such that there is free variation between them in English. Very few languages contrast them and linguistic descriptions are often vague enough to not clarify which alveolar sibilant is being referred to here.
  3. It's not clear exactly what title would suffice for the non-apical alveolar sibilant.

Ƶ§œš¹ [aɪm ˈfɹ̠ˤʷɛ̃ɾ̃ˡi] 13:33, 25 May 2011 (UTC)

Unfortunately what you say here isn't quite true, as I wrote in Talk:voiceless apico-alveolar sibilant. There is evidently free variation between a grooved apical alveolar sibilant and a grooved laminal alveolar sibilant, but certainly not between latter and the retroflex apical alveolar sibilant of (northern peninsular) Spanish, Basque and Catalan. Possibly "grooved" and "retroflex" aren't the best terms. Perhaps "flat" (SOWL's term) is better than "retroflex". Neither term is usually found in the Spanish literature, and "retroflex" is more commonly used overall. The basic problem seems to be that the phonetic understanding of tongue shape is still pretty basic, probably because (a) there's no way to see what's going on by looking into the mouth, (b) it's extremely hard to figure out what's going on by introspection, (c) traditional tools like palatography don't help much either. Only x-raying helps. However, this isn't easy to do in field work, and understandably not everyone wants their head x-rayed.
However, since the apico-alveolar fricative sounds like a higher-pitched retroflex (or "flat postalveolar") fricative, and hardly like English /s/, it's likely that few if any languages whose sources don't specifically describe a sound as "apico-alveolar" or "retroflex" have this sound. Benwing (talk) 08:21, 1 June 2011 (UTC)
BTW I wrote to Ian Maddieson asking him to clarify what's going on with the apico-alveolar and apico-dental sibilants, and what the actual feature is that distinguishes "hissing" from "hushing" sibilants (as well as a host of other sibilant-related questions, some of which concern objections that kwami seems to have had to my new sibilants article). Hopefully he'll respond soon. Benwing (talk) 10:28, 1 June 2011 (UTC)
This is getting more confusing. If it's retroflex, what is the difference between this and the retroflex sounds of Russian, Polish, and Mandarin Chinese? — Ƶ§œš¹ [aɪm ˈfɹ̠ˤʷɛ̃ɾ̃ˡi] 21:56, 2 June 2011 (UTC)
Well, Polish mysz [mɘ̟ʂ] has a depalatalized /ʃ/ element to it, which is absent in european Spanish, european Portuguese, etc. It just sounds different. I'm not saying it deserves a different IPA symbol (though I'd be very happy to see one), but it's considerably different from English and German [s̺], [ʃ], and Polish [s̪], [ʂ] and [ɕ]. None of the five aforementioned consonants sound like european Spanish [s̺] in saber [s̺äˈβ̞e̞ɾ]. -- (talk) 20:35, 20 July 2012 (UTC)
This is a very complicated problem and sibilants are clearly in urgent need of further research. Although I am very unsure of all the phonetic detail involved, my preliminary impression is as follows: The standard alveolar sibilant is formed at the sockets immediately behind the teeth (the alveoli), the retracted sibilant at the post-alveolar place, which is the edge or rim (limbus alveolaris = alveolar crest?) of the part behind the teeth where the curvature of the bottom of the upper jaw ascends into the roof of the hard palate (I think the part behind the teeth I mean is called the processus alveolaris – and identical with the alveolar ridge? – and more pronounced in the upper jaw; interestingly, Khoisan do not seem to have this ridge). The apical sibilants are formed with the tip of the tongue (the foremost part, not literally the tip) as active articulator, the laminal sibilants at a spot slightly further back, but not much further back, because if you articulate the retracted laminal sibilant closer to the centre of the tongue, it turns into (alveolopalatal) [ɕ]. My impression is now that the tongue is really flat in those sibilants and not actually retroflexed, although I could be wrong, of course. I have come to this conclusion mostly through experimentation. The apico-alveolar sibilant sounds like the typical (British?) English hissed sibilant to me, the lamino-alveolar one like the typical German hissed sibilant, the apico-post-alveolar one like the sibilant of many Peninsular Spanish varieties and the lamino-post-alveolar one like the Greek sibilant. The palatoalveolar [ʃ] combines a palatal (or even velar) with a post-alveolar contact (I've also seen [ʃ] called post-alveolar, which is only half-correct) and thus resembles an apico-post-alveolar Spanish [s] combined with [ç] (or even [x]). (This double constriction explains the distinctive manner in which the tongue is arched up when articulating an [ʃ]). That is, the apical region of the tongue touches the post-alveolar place of the upper jaw and the (post-)laminal region of the tongue touches the hard palate, the tongue roof (or even the velum, the soft palate). However, the back contact is apparently more loose and more like an approximant; still, this explains why ([sk] >) [sx] tends to change into [ʃ]. Which, for its part, does indeed resemble [ʂ] a lot, and [ʂ] is difficult to distinguish from [ʃ] if [ʂ] is only apical or laminal and not sub-apical. Finally, [ɧ] is similar to (a labialised) [ʃ] in combining a palatal (or even velar) with a labial contact. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 18:47, 29 October 2014 (UTC)
Just in case my syntax was unclear, the relative clause "where the curvature [...]" is supposed to determine "edge or rim", not "the part behind the teeth"; I don't know how to phrase it in an unambiguous way. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 18:55, 29 October 2014 (UTC)
Peter Schrijver's observation is, and I agree with him here, that post-alveolar ("retracted", "dull") sibilants occur (mainly, or precisely?) in those languages where there is no second contrasting sibilant (in regard to place of articulation; I generally ignore voicing here), i. e., only a hissing /s/-type sibilant and no hushing /ʃ/- or /ʂ/-type sibilant; moreover, those languages also have, or recently used to have, contrasting interdental fricatives of some kind. This indicates that the choice of using alveolar or post-alveolar sibilants is determined by the need for contrast maximisation. This is similar to the way [ʃ] often features some kind of lip-rounding in German (and also English and French and perhaps further languages?), or is retroflexed in other (such as Slavic) languages, to maximise contrast with other sibilants or fricatives such as [ç] (which is often turned into unrounded [ʃ] or [ɕ] in German dialects and accents), [ɕ] (for example in Slavic) or even [s] itself. (Of course, [ʃ] with lip-rounding resembles [ɧ] even more closely. The origin of [ɧ] in Swedish is apparently a cluster of [s] and [ç] or [ɕ], so the intermediate step would appear to have been some kind of [sç] or [ʃɕ] with additional, non-contrastive lip-rounding as well.)
Given that Proto-Indo-European, and many older Indo-European languages (like modern languages spoken in the peripheries of Europe) are of the type with only one kind of sibilant and only interdental fricatives in addition sometimes, one should expected that Proto-Indo-European and many older Indo-European languages had post-alveolar /s/. And indeed that's what some scholars have argued based on other reasons, see here. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 19:19, 29 October 2014 (UTC)

"Alveolar" is confusing[edit]

I actually think this article should not have "alveolar" in its name at all, or at the very least should say "alveolar/dental". Same goes for all the other anterior coronal sounds. The alveolarness is not the relevant factor here.

On top of this, there are at least six separate voiceless alveolar fricatives, all of which can equally be "dental" (or at least "denti-alveolar"):

Name Distinguishing feature
Hissing ("grooved") sibilant Sibilant=yes Shape=grooved
Hissing-lisping ("apico-dental") sibilant (although I can make an alveolar sibilant with basically the same sound) Sibilant=yes Shape=??
Retroflex/flat/grave ("apico-alveolar") sibilant Sibilant=yes Shape=flat/retroflex
Lateral fricative Sibilant=no Lateral=yes Rhotic=no
Th-type fricative Sibilant=no Lateral=no Rhotic=no
R-type fricative Sibilant=no Lateral=no Rhotic=yes

Benwing (talk) 08:33, 1 June 2011 (UTC)

Laminal alveolar and denti-alveolar[edit]

In this article, a laminal alveolar fricative is listed; in voiceless dental fricative article, a denti-alveolar fricative is listed. (It was previously described as corono-dentoalveolar, but that's idiosyncratic terminology and I changed it to denti-alveolar, the terminology used on Wikipedia.

I'm curious, is there a difference between the two, and what is it? Is it the precise position on the alveolar ridge: directly behind the teeth as opposed to a little farther back from the teeth? — Eru·tuon 19:55, 17 February 2015 (UTC)

The latter sounds like a strong [θ] and by definition has a lisped, kind of "distorted" quality, which is considered normal for some Andalusian dialects. I suppose that at least sometimes it is in free variation with [θ]. On the other hand, an alveolar [s] of lisped quality is universally considered a speech defect. — Peter238 (v̥ɪˑzɪʔ mɑˑɪ̯ tˢʰoˑk̚ pʰɛˑɪ̯d̥ʒ̊) 21:43, 17 February 2015 (UTC)

Toda apical post-alveolar sibilant retracted?[edit]

Does anybody here know if the Toda sibilant described as "apical post-alveolar" here is comparable to the retracted sibilants found in European languages and dialects? The description "apical post-alveolar" sounds like it to me ... --Florian Blaschke (talk) 16:55, 3 December 2015 (UTC)