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Voiced alveolar fricative

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The voiced alveolar fricatives are consonantal sounds. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents these sounds depends on whether a sibilant or non-sibilant fricative is being described.

  • The symbol for the alveolar sibilant is ⟨z⟩, and the equivalent X-SAMPA symbol is z. The IPA letter ⟨z⟩ is not normally used for dental or postalveolar sibilants in narrow transcription unless modified by a diacritic (⟨⟩ and ⟨⟩ respectively).
  • The IPA symbol for the alveolar non-sibilant fricative is derived by means of diacritics; it can be ⟨ð̠⟩ or ⟨ɹ̝⟩.
Voiced coronal fricatives
Dental Denti-
Alveolar Post-alveolar
Retracted Retroflex Palato-
Sibilant plain ʐ ʒ ʑ
Non-sibilant ð ð͇ ɻ̝
tapped ɾ̞
Coronal sibilants
of articulation
ʐ retroflex
secondary palatalized coronal
ʑ alveolo-palatal
ʒ palato-alveolar
labialized coronal
velarized coronal
pharyngealized coronal
voice-onset time breathy coronal

Voiced alveolar sibilant

Voiced alveolar fricative
IPA Number133
Audio sample
Entity (decimal)z
Unicode (hex)U+007A
Braille⠵ (braille pattern dots-1356)
Voiced laminal dentalized alveolar sibilant
Voiced laminal predorsal alveolar sibilant
Voiced alveolar retracted sibilant
Entity (decimal)z​̺
Unicode (hex)U+007A U+033A

The voiced alveolar sibilant is common across European languages, but is relatively uncommon cross-linguistically compared to the voiceless variant. Only about 28% of the world's languages contain a voiced dental or alveolar sibilant. Moreover, 85% of the languages with some form of [z] are languages of Europe, Africa, or Western Asia.


  • 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.
  • There are at least three specific variants of [z]:
    • Dentalized laminal alveolar (commonly called "dental"), which means it is articulated with the tongue blade very close to the upper front teeth, with the tongue tip resting behind lower front teeth. The hissing effect in this variety of [z] is very strong.[1]
    • Non-retracted alveolar, which means it is articulated with either the tip or the blade of the tongue at the alveolar ridge, termed respectively apical and laminal. According to Ladefoged & Maddieson (1996) about half of English speakers use a non-retracted apical articulation.
    • Retracted alveolar, which means it is articulated with either the tip or the blade of the tongue slightly behind the alveolar ridge, termed respectively apical and laminal. Acoustically, it is close to [ʒ] or laminal [ʐ].
  • 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 intercostal muscles and abdominal muscles, as in most sounds.



Dentalized laminal alveolar

Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Armenian Eastern[2] զարդ/zart [z̪ɑɾt̪ʰ] 'decoration'
Azerbaijani[3] z [z̪ɔʁ] 'sprout'
Belarusian[4] база/baza [ˈbäz̪ä] 'base' Contrasts with palatalized form. See Belarusian phonology
Bulgarian[5] езеро/ezero [ˈɛz̪ɛro] 'lake' Contrasts with palatalized form.
Czech[6] zima [ˈz̪ɪmä] 'winter' See Czech phonology
English Multicultural London[7] zoo [z̪ʏˑy̯] 'zoo' See English phonology
French[8][9] zèbre [z̪ɛbʁ] 'zebra' See French phonology
Hungarian[10] zálog [ˈz̪äːl̪oɡ] 'pledge' See Hungarian phonology
Kashubian[11] [example needed]
Kazakh[12] заң/z [z̪ɑŋ] 'law'
Kyrgyz[13] заң/zań
Latvian[14] zars [z̪ärs̪] 'branch' See Latvian phonology
Macedonian[15] зошто/zošto [ˈz̪ɔʃt̪ɔ] 'why' See Macedonian phonology
Mirandese daprendizaige [d̪əpɾẽd̪iˈz̪ajʒ(ɯ̽)] 'learning' Contrasts seven sibilants altogether, preserving medieval Ibero-Romance contrasts.
Polish[1][16] zero [ˈz̪ɛrɔ] 'zero' See Polish phonology
Portuguese Most speakers Estados Unidos [isˈt̪ad̪uz̪‿ʉˈnid͡zᶶ(ˢ)] 'United States' See Portuguese phonology
Romanian[17] zar [z̪är] 'dice' See Romanian phonology
Russian[18] заезжать / zaězžať [z̪əɪˈʑʑætʲ] 'to pick up' Contrasts with palatalized form. See Russian phonology
Serbo-Croatian[19][20] зајам / zajam [z̪ǎːjäm] 'loan' See Serbo-Croatian phonology
Slovak zima [ˈz̪imä] 'winter'
Slovene[21] zima [ˈz̪ìːmá] 'winter'
Turkish[8][22] z [ɟø̞̈z̪] 'eye' See Turkish phonology
Ukrainian[23] зуб/zub [z̪ub] 'tooth' Contrasts with palatalized form. See Ukrainian phonology
Upper Sorbian[24] koza [ˈkɔz̪ä] 'goat'
Uzbek[25] zafar 'victory'
Vietnamese Hanoi[26] da [z̪äː] 'skin' See Vietnamese phonology

Non-retracted alveolar

Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Adyghe зы [ˈzə] 'one'
Albanian zjarr [zjar] 'fire'
Arabic Standard[27] زائِر [ˈzaːʔir] 'visitor' See Arabic phonology
Assamese লকীয়া [zɔlɔkija] 'chili'
Assyrian ܙܢ̱ܓܐ zìga [ziɡa] 'bell'
Bengali নামা [namaz] 'Salah' Mostly in loanwords and often replaced by []. See Bengali phonology
Breton iliz [iliz] 'church'
Chechen зурма / zurma [zuɾma] 'music'
Dutch[28][29] zaad [z̻aːt̻] 'seed' Laminal; may have only mid-to-low pitched friction in the Netherlands.[28][29] See Dutch phonology
Emilian Bolognese raån [raːz̺ʌŋ] 'reason' Palatalized apical; may be [ʐ] or [ʒ] instead.
English zoo [zuː] 'zoo' Absent from some Scottish and Asian dialects. See English phonology
Esperanto kuzo [ˈkuzo] 'cousin' See Esperanto phonology
Georgian[30] არი [ˈzɑɾi] 'bell'
Greek Athens dialect[31] ζάλη / záli [ˈz̻ali] 'dizziness' See Modern Greek phonology
Hebrew זאב [zeˈʔev] 'wolf' See Modern Hebrew phonology
Hindustani Hindi ज़मीन [zəmiːn] 'land' May be replaced in Hindi by []. See Hindustani phonology
Urdu زمین
Japanese[32] 全部 / zenbu [zembɯ] 'everything' See Japanese phonology
Kabardian зы [ˈzə] 'one'
Kalaw Lagaw Ya zilamiz [zilʌmiz] 'go'
Kashmiri ज़ानुन / زانُن [zaːnun] 'to know'
Khmer បែលហ្ស៊ិក / bêlhsĭk [ɓaelzɨk] noun: 'Belgium', 'Belgian(s)'
adjective: 'Belgian'
See Khmer phonology
Konda[33][34] sunz [sunz] 'to sleep'
Malay beza [bezə] 'difference'
Maltese żelu [zelu] 'zeal'
Marathi [zər] 'if' See Marathi phonology.
Occitan Limousin jòune [ˈzɒwne] 'young' See Occitan phonology
Persian روز [ɾuːz] 'day'
Portuguese[35] casa [ˈkazɐ] 'house' See Portuguese phonology
Punjabi Gurmukhi ਜ਼ਾ [həˈzaːr] 'thousand' May be replaced by [] in Gurmukhi (Indian) varieties.
Shahmukhi ہزار
Spanish Andalusian comunismo [ko̞muˈnizmo̞] 'Communism' Allophone of /s/ before voiced consonants, when it is not debuccalized to [h ~ ɦ]. Present in dialects which realize /s/ as a non-retracted alveolar fricative. Before /d/ it is dental [z̪].
Latin American
Swahili lazima [lɑzimɑ] 'must'
Tamil Jaffna Tamil கடுதாசி [kɐɖuðaːzi] 'letter' Was only reported for 1 speaker in the sample but he pronounced it regularly.[36]
West Frisian[37] sizze [ˈsɪzə] 'to say' It never occurs in word-initial positions. See West Frisian phonology
Yi / ssy [zɹ̩˧] 'generation'
Yiddish זון / zien [zin] 'son'
Zapotec Tilquiapan[38] guanaz [ɡʷanaz] 'went to grab'

Retracted alveolar

Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Catalan[39][40] zel [ˈz̺ɛɫ] 'zeal' Apical. See Catalan phonology
Galician mesmo [ˈme̞z̺mo̞] 'same' Apical. Allophone of /s/ before voiced consonants. Before /d/ it is pronounced dentally [z̪].
Greek[41] μάζα / za [ˈmɐz̠ɐ] 'mass' See Modern Greek phonology
Italian Central Italy[42] caso [ˈkäːz̠o] 'case' Present in Lazio north of Cape Linaro,[42] most of Umbria[42] (save Perugia and the extreme south)[42] and Le Marche south of the Potenza.[42]
Northern Italy[43][44] Apical.[45] Present in many areas north of the La Spezia–Rimini Line.[46][47] See Italian phonology
Sicily[42] Present south and west of a line drawn from Syracuse to Cefalù.[42]
Low German[48] [example needed]
Maldivian zaraafaa [z̺aˈraːfaː] 'giraffe'
Mirandese eisistir [e̞jz̺is̺ˈtiɾ] 'to exist' Apical. Mirandese and neighboring Portuguese dialects were the only surviving oral tradition to preserve all seven mediaeval Ibero-Romance sibilants: ⟨ch⟩ //, ⟨x⟩ /ʃ/, ⟨g⟩/⟨j⟩ /ʒ/, ⟨c⟩/⟨ç⟩ //, ⟨z⟩ /z̪/, ⟨s⟩/-⟨ss⟩- //, -⟨s⟩- /z̺/
Occitan Gascon casèrna [kaz̺ɛrno] 'barracks' See Occitan phonology
Languedocien ser [bez̺e] 'to see'
Piedmontese amis [aˈmiz̠] 'friend' Apical. See Piemontese phonology
Portuguese Coastal Northern European [example needed] Merges with non-retracted /z/. See Portuguese phonology
Inland Northern European [example needed] Apical. Contrasts with non-retracted /z/. See Portuguese phonology
Spanish Andean mismo [ˈmiz̺mo̞] 'same' Apical. Allophone of /s/ before voiced consonants. Before /d/ it is pronounced dentally [z̪]. See Spanish phonology
Paisa Region


Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
German Standard[49] sauber [ˈzäʊ̯bɐ] 'clean' Varies between dentalized laminal, non-retracted laminal and non-retracted apical.[49] See Standard German phonology
Italian Standard[50] caso [ˈkäːzo] 'case' Varies between dentalized laminal and non-retracted apical.[50] See Italian phonology
Ticino[45] Varies between dentalized laminal and non-retracted apical.[51] Both variants may be labiodentalized.[45] See Italian phonology

Voiced alveolar non-sibilant fricative

Voiced alveolar non-sibilant fricative
Audio sample
Entity (decimal)ð​̠
Unicode (hex)U+00F0 U+0320
Voiced alveolar tapped fricative
IPA Number124 430
Audio sample

The voiced alveolar non-sibilant fricative is a consonantal sound. As the International Phonetic Alphabet does not have separate symbols for the alveolar consonants (the same symbol is used for all coronal places of articulation that are not palatalized), it can represent the sound as in a number of ways including ⟨ð̠⟩ or ⟨ð͇⟩ (retracted or alveolarized [ð], respectively), ⟨ɹ̝⟩ (constricted [ɹ]), or ⟨⟩ (lowered [d]).

Few languages also have the voiced alveolar tapped fricative, which is simply a very brief apical alveolar non-sibilant fricative, with the tongue making the gesture for a tapped stop but not making full contact. It can be indicated in the IPA with the lowering diacritic to show that full occlusion does not occur. Flapped fricatives are theoretically possible but are not attested.[52]




Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Aragonese Chistabino[53] aire [ˈäi̯ɾ̞e̞] 'air' Tapped; common realization of /ɾ/.[53]
Czech[54] čtyři [ˈt͡ʃtɪɹ̝ɪ] 'four' May be a fricative trill[54] or a tap fricative instead.[55] It contrasts with /r/ and /ʒ/. See Czech phonology
Dahalo[56] [káð̠i] 'work' Apical; only weakly fricated. It is a common intervocalic allophone of /d̠/, and may be an approximant [ð̠˕] or simply a plosive [d] instead.[57]
Dutch[58] voor [vöːɹ̝] 'for' One of many possible realizations of /r/; distribution unclear. See Dutch phonology
Emilian Bolognese chè [ˈkɛːð̠] 'case' Laminal
English Scouse[59] maid [meɪð̠] 'maid' Allophone of /d/. See English phonology
South African[60][61] round [ɹ̝æʊ̯nd] 'round' Apical,[61] present in some urban dialects.[60] See South African English phonology
Icelandic[62][63] bróðir [ˈpro͡uːð̠ɪr] 'brother' Usually apical,[62][63] may be closer to an approximant. See Icelandic phonology
Italian Sicily[64] terra [ˈt̪ɛɹ̝ä] 'earth' Apical; corresponds to /rr/ in standard Italian.[64] See Italian phonology
Manx mooar [muːɹ̝] 'big' Common word-final realization of /r/.
Spanish[65] Aragonese aire [ˈäi̯ɾ̞e̞] 'air' Tapped; possible realization of /ɾ/.[65] See Spanish phonology
Swedish Central Standard[66][67] vandrare [²vän̪ːd̪ɹ̝äɹɛ] 'wanderer' Allophone of /r/ around the Stockholm area. See Swedish phonology
Tacana[68] [example needed] Tapped.[68]
Turkish[69] rüya [ˈɾ̞yːjɑ] 'dream' Tapped; word-initial allophone of /ɾ/.[69] See Turkish phonology

Voiced lateral-median fricative

Voiced alveolar lateral–median fricative
Voiceless dental lateral–median fricative

The voiced alveolar non-sibilant fricative (also known as a "lisp" fricative) is a consonantal sound. Consonants is pronounced with simultaneous lateral and central airflow.




Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Arabic[70][71][72] Rijal Almaʽa ضبع [ðˡˤabʕ] 'hyena'
Mehri[73] ذوفر [ðˡˤoːfar] 'plait'

See also



  1. ^ a b Puppel, Nawrocka-Fisiak & Krassowska (1977:149), cited in Ladefoged & Maddieson (1996:154)
  2. ^ Kozintseva (1995), p. 7.
  3. ^ Axundov (1983), pp. 115, 136, 139–142.
  4. ^ Padluzhny (1989), p. 47.
  5. ^ Klagstad (1958), p. 46.
  6. ^ Palková (1994), p. 228.
  7. ^ "english speech services | Accent of the Year / sibilants in MLE". 31 December 2011. Retrieved 2 December 2015.
  8. ^ a b Adams (1975), p. 288.
  9. ^ Fougeron & Smith (1999), p. 79.
  10. ^ Szende (1999), p. 104.
  11. ^ Jerzy Treder. "Fonetyka i fonologia". Archived from the original on 2016-03-04.
  12. ^ Kara (2002), p. 10.
  13. ^ Kara (2003), p. 11.
  14. ^ Nau (1998), p. 6.
  15. ^ Lunt (1952), p. 1.
  16. ^ Rocławski (1976), pp. 149.
  17. ^ Ovidiu Drăghici. "Limba Română contemporană. Fonetică. Fonologie. Ortografie. Lexicologie" (PDF). Retrieved April 19, 2013.[permanent dead link]
  18. ^ Chew (2003), p. 67.
  19. ^ Kordić (2006), p. 5.
  20. ^ Landau et al. (1999), p. 67.
  21. ^ Pretnar & Tokarz (1980:21)
  22. ^ Zimmer & Orgun (1999), p. 154.
  23. ^ Buk, Solomija; Mačutek, Ján; Rovenchak, Andrij (2008). "Some properties of the Ukrainian writing system". Glottometrics. 16 (16): 63–79. arXiv:0802.4198. Bibcode:2008arXiv0802.4198B. (PDF ram-verlag.eu)
  24. ^ Šewc-Schuster (1984), pp. 22, 38, 39.
  25. ^ Sjoberg (1963), p. 11.
  26. ^ Thompson (1987), pp. 5 and 7.
  27. ^ Thelwall (1990), p. 37.
  28. ^ a b Gussenhoven (1999), p. 75.
  29. ^ a b Collins & Mees (2003), p. 190.
  30. ^ Shosted & Chikovani (2006), p. 255.
  31. ^ Adams (1975), p. 283.
  32. ^ Okada (1999), p. 117.
  33. ^ Emeneau (1970).
  34. ^ Krishnamurti (2003), p. 70.
  35. ^ Cruz-Ferreira (1995), p. 91.
  36. ^ Zvelebil, Kamil (1965). Some features of Ceylon Tamil. Indo-Iranian Journal. Vol. 9. JSTOR. pp. 113–138. JSTOR 24650188.
  37. ^ Sipma (1913), p. 16.
  38. ^ Merrill (2008), p. 108.
  39. ^ Carbonell & Llisterri (1992), p. 54.
  40. ^ Torreblanca (1988), p. 347.
  41. ^ Arvaniti (2007), p. 12.
  42. ^ a b c d e f g Adams (1975), p. 286.
  43. ^ Adams (1975), pp. 285–286.
  44. ^ Canepari (1992), p. 71-72.
  45. ^ a b c Canepari (1992), p. 72.
  46. ^ Canepari (1992), p. 71.
  47. ^ Adams (1975), p. 285.
  48. ^ Adams (1975), p. 289.
  49. ^ a b Mangold (2005), p. 50.
  50. ^ a b Canepari (1992), p. 68.
  51. ^ Canepari (1992), pp. 68 and 72.
  52. ^ Laver (1994), p. 263.
  53. ^ a b Mott (2007), pp. 104, 112.
  54. ^ a b Ladefoged & Maddieson (1996), pp. 228–230 and 233.
  55. ^ Šimáčková, Podlipský & Chládková (2012), p. 226.
  56. ^ Maddieson et al. (1993:34)
  57. ^ Maddieson et al. (1993:28, 34)
  58. ^ Collins & Mees (2003:199). Authors do not say where exactly it is used.
  59. ^ Watson (2007), pp. 352–353.
  60. ^ a b Ladefoged & Maddieson (1996), p. 236.
  61. ^ a b Ogden (2009), p. 92.
  62. ^ a b Pétursson (1971:?), cited in Ladefoged & Maddieson (1996:145)
  63. ^ a b Grønnum (2005:139)
  64. ^ a b Canepari (1992), pp. 64–65.
  65. ^ a b Mott (2007), p. 112.
  66. ^ Engstrand (1999), pp. 141.
  67. ^ Engstrand (2004), p. 167.
  68. ^ a b "UPSID r[F". Retrieved 24 January 2016.
  69. ^ a b Yavuz & Balcı (2011), p. 25.
  70. ^ Heselwood (2013) Phonetic transcription in theory and practice, p 122–123
  71. ^ Janet Watson (January 2011). "Lateral fricatives and lateral emphatics in southern Saudi Arabia and Mehri". academia.edu.
  72. ^ Watson, Janet (January 2013). "Lateral reflexes of Proto-Semitic D and Dh in Al-Rubu'ah dialect, south-west Saudi Arabic: Electropalatographic and acoustic evidence". Nicht Nur mit Engelszungen: Beiträge zur Semitischen Dialektologie: Festschrift für Werner Arnold.
  73. ^ Janet Watson (January 2011). "Lateral fricatives and lateral emphatics in southern Saudi Arabia and Mehri". academia.edu.


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