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Voiceless dental and alveolar plosives

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Voiceless alveolar plosive
IPA Number103
Audio sample
Entity (decimal)t
Unicode (hex)U+0074
Braille⠞ (braille pattern dots-2345)
Voiceless dental plosive
IPA Number103 408
Audio sample
Entity (decimal)t​̪
Unicode (hex)U+0074 U+032A
Braille⠞ (braille pattern dots-2345)⠠ (braille pattern dots-6)⠹ (braille pattern dots-1456)

The voiceless alveolar, dental and postalveolar plosives (or stops) are types of consonantal sounds used in almost all spoken languages. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents voiceless dental, alveolar, and postalveolar plosives is ⟨t⟩, and the equivalent X-SAMPA symbol is t. The voiceless dental plosive can be distinguished with the underbridge diacritic, ⟨⟩ and the postalveolar with a retraction line, ⟨⟩, and the Extensions to the IPA have a double underline diacritic which can be used to explicitly specify an alveolar pronunciation, ⟨⟩.

The [t] sound is a very common sound cross-linguistically.[1] Most languages have at least a plain [t], and some distinguish more than one variety. Some languages without a [t] are colloquial Samoan (which also lacks an [n]), Abau, and Nǁng of South Africa.[citation needed]

There are only a few languages which distinguish dental and alveolar stops, Kota, Toda, Venda and many Australian Aboriginal languages being a few of them; certain varieties of Hiberno-English also distinguish them (with [t̪] being the local realisation of the Standard English phoneme /θ/, represented by ⟨th⟩).


Here are features of the voiceless alveolar stop:

  • Its manner of articulation is occlusive, which means it is produced by obstructing airflow in the vocal tract. Since the consonant is also oral, with no nasal outlet, the airflow is blocked entirely, and the consonant is a plosive.
  • There are three specific variants of [t]:
    • Dental, which means it is articulated with either the tip or the blade of the tongue at the upper teeth, termed respectively apical and laminal.
    • Denti-alveolar, which means it is articulated with the blade of the tongue at the alveolar ridge, and the tip of the tongue behind upper teeth.
    • 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.
  • 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 intercostal muscles and abdominal muscles, as in most sounds.


IPA Description
t plain t
dental t
postalveolar t
aspirated t
palatalized t
labialized t
t with no audible release
voiced t
tense t
ejective t


Dental or denti-alveolar[edit]

Occurrence of [t̪] in various languages
Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Aleut[2] tiistax̂ [t̪iːstaχ] 'dough' Laminal denti-alveolar.
Armenian Eastern[3] տուն [t̪un] 'house' Laminal denti-alveolar.
Assyrian Neo-Aramaic ܬܠܬ̱ܐ/ţlo [t̪lɑ] 'three'
Bashkir дүрт/dürt [dʏʷrt] 'four' Laminal denti-alveolar
Belarusian[4] стагоддзе [s̪t̪äˈɣod̪d̪͡z̪ʲe] 'century' Laminal denti-alveolar. See Belarusian phonology
Basque toki [t̪oki] 'place' Laminal denti-alveolar. See Basque phonology
Bengali তুমি [t̪umi] 'you' Laminal denti-alveolar, contrasts with aspirated form. See Bengali phonology
Catalan[5] terra [ˈt̪ɛrɐ] 'land' Laminal denti-alveolar. See Catalan phonology
Chuvash ут [ut] 'horse'
Czech toto [ˈt̪ot̪o] 'this' Laminal denti-alveolar.[6] See Czech phonology
Dinka[7] th [mɛ̀t̪] 'child' Laminal denti-alveolar, contrasts with alveolar /t/.
Dutch Belgian taal [t̪aːl̪] 'language' Laminal denti-alveolar.
English Dublin[8] thin [t̪ʰɪn] 'thin' Laminal denti-alveolar. In Dublin, it may be [t͡θ] instead. See English phonology.
Indian Corresponds to [θ].[8]
Southern Irish[9]
Ulster[10] train [t̪ɹeːn] 'train' Allophone of /t/ before /r/, in free variation with an alveolar stop.
Finnish tutti [ˈt̪ut̪ːi] 'pacifier' Laminal denti-alveolar. See Finnish phonology
French[11] tordu [t̪ɔʁd̪y] 'crooked' Laminal denti-alveolar. See French phonology
Hakka[12] /ta3 [t̪ʰa˧] 'he/she' Laminal denti-alveolar, contrasts with an unaspirated form.
Hindustani[13] Hindi ती/tīn [t̪iːn] 'three' Laminal denti-alveolar. Contrasts with aspirated form <थ>. See Hindustani phonology
Urdu تین/tīn Contrasts with aspirated form <تھ>.
Indonesian[14] tabir [t̪abir] 'curtain' Laminal denti-alveolar.
Italian[15] tale [ˈt̪ale] 'such' Laminal denti-alveolar. See Italian phonology
Japanese[16] 特別/ tokubetsu [t̪o̞kɯ̟ᵝbe̞t͡sɨᵝ] 'special' Laminal denti-alveolar. See Japanese phonology
Kashubian[17] ptôch [ptɞx] 'bird' Laminal denti-alveolar.
Kazakh тұз [t̪us̪] 'salt' Laminal denti-alveolar.
Kyrgyz[18] туз [t̪us̪] 'salt' Laminal denti-alveolar.
Latvian[19] tabula [ˈt̪äbulä] 'table' Laminal denti-alveolar. See Latvian phonology
Malayalam കാത്ത് [kaːt̪ːɨ̆] 'waiting' Contrasts /t̪ t ʈ d̪ ɖ/.
Mapudungun[20] a [ˈfɘt̪ɜ] 'husband' Interdental.[20]
Marathi बला [t̪əbˈlaː] 'tabla' Laminal denti-alveolar, contrasts with aspirated form. See Marathi phonology
Nepali ताली [t̪äli] 'clappinɡ' Contrasts with aspirated form. See Nepali phonology
Nunggubuyu[21] darag [t̪aɾaɡ] 'whiskers' Laminal denti-alveolar.
Odia ତାରା/tara [t̪ärä] 'star' Laminal denti-alveolar, contrasts with aspirated form.
Pazeh[22] [mut̪apɛt̪aˈpɛh] 'keep clapping' Dental.
Polish[23] tom [t̪ɔm] 'volume' Laminal denti-alveolar. See Polish phonology
Portuguese[24] Many dialects montanha [mõˈt̪ɐɲɐ] 'mountain' Laminal denti-alveolar. Likely to have allophones among native speakers, as it may affricate to [], [] and/or [ts] in certain environments. See Portuguese phonology
Punjabi ਤੇਲ/تیل [t̪eːl] 'oil' Laminal denti-alveolar.
Russian[25] толстый [ˈt̪ʷo̞ɫ̪s̪t̪ɨ̞j] 'fat' Laminal denti-alveolar. See Russian phonology
Scottish Gaelic[26] taigh [t̪ʰɤj] 'house'
Serbo-Croatian[27] туга/tuga [t̪ǔːgä] 'sorrow' Laminal denti-alveolar. See Serbo-Croatian phonology
Slovene[28] tip [ˈt̪îːp] 'type' Laminal denti-alveolar. See Slovene phonology
Somali matag [mat̪ag] 'vomit' Dentalization of alveolar plosive.
Spanish[29] tango [ˈt̪ãŋɡo̞] 'tango' Laminal denti-alveolar. See Spanish phonology
Swedish[30] tåg [ˈt̪ʰoːɡ] 'train' Laminal denti-alveolar. See Swedish phonology
Telugu ప్పు [t̪apːu] 'wrong' Contrasts between aspirated and unaspirated forms.
Turkish at [ät̪] 'horse' Laminal denti-alveolar. See Turkish phonology
Ukrainian[31][32] брат [brɑt̪] 'brother' Laminal denti-alveolar. See Ukrainian phonology
Uzbek[33] [example needed] Laminal denti-alveolar. Slightly aspirated before vowels.[33]
Vietnamese[34] tuần [t̪wən˨˩] 'week' Laminal denti-alveolar, contrasts with aspirated form. See Vietnamese phonology
Zapotec Tilquiapan[35] tant [t̪ant̪] 'so much' Laminal denti-alveolar.


Occurrence of [t] in various languages
Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Adyghe тфы [tfə] 'five'
Arabic Egyptian توكة/tōka [ˈtoːkæ] 'barrette' See Egyptian Arabic phonology
Assyrian ܒܝܬܐ/ta [beːta] 'house' Most speakers. In the Tyari, Barwari and Southern dialects θ is used.
Cantonese /dit [ti:t̚˧] 'fall' (v.) See Cantonese Phonology
//tit [tʰi:t̚˧] 'iron'
Chechen тарсал/tarsal [tɑːrsəl] 'squirrel'
Danish Standard[36] dåse [ˈtɔ̽ːsə] 'can' (n.) Usually transcribed in IPA with ⟨⟩ or ⟨d⟩. Contrasts with the affricate [t͡s] or aspirated stop [tʰ] (depending on the dialect), which are usually transcribed in IPA with ⟨⟩ or ⟨t⟩.[37] See Danish phonology
Dutch[38] taal [taːɫ] 'language' See Dutch phonology
English Most speakers tick [tʰɪk] 'tick' See English phonology
New York[39] Varies between apical and laminal, with the latter being predominant.[39]
Hebrew תמונה [tmuˈna] 'image' see Modern Hebrew phonology
Hungarian[40] tutaj [ˈtutɒj] 'raft' See Hungarian phonology
Kabardian тхуы [txʷə] 'five'
Khmer តែ/tê [tae] 'tea' See Khmer phonology
Korean 대숲/daesup [tɛsup̚] 'bamboo forest' See Korean phonology
Kurdish Northern tu [tʰʊ] 'you' See Kurdish phonology
Central تەوێڵ [tʰəweːɫ] 'forehead'
Southern تێوڵ [tʰeːwɨɫ]
Luxembourgish[41] dënn [tən] 'thin' Less often voiced [d]. It is usually transcribed /d/, and it contrasts with voiceless aspirated form, which is usually transcribed /t/.[41] See Luxembourgish phonology
Malayalam കാറ്റ് [kaːtːɨ̆] 'wind' Contrasts /t̪ t ʈ d̪ ɖ/.
Maltese tassew [tasˈsew] 'true'
Mandarin /dì [ti˥˩] 'ground' See Mandarin Phonology
/tī [tʰi˥˥] 'ladder/stairs'
Mapudungun[20] ta [ˈfɘtɜ] 'elderly'
Nunggubuyu[21] darawa [taɾawa] 'greedy'
Nuosu[which?] /da [ta˧] 'place' Contrasts aspirated and unaspirated forms
Portuguese[42] Some dialects troço [ˈtɾɔsu] 'thing' (pejorative) Allophone before alveolar /ɾ/. In other dialects /ɾ/ takes a denti-alveolar allophone instead. See Portuguese phonology
Tagalog matamis [mɐtɐˈmis] 'sweet' See Tagalog phonology
Thai /ta [taː˧] 'eye' Contrasts with an aspirated form.
West Frisian tosk [ˈtosk] 'tooth' See West Frisian phonology


Occurrence of [t̠]
Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Yele dêê [t̠əː] 'tongue' Contrasts /t̪ t̪͡p t̪ʲ t̠ t̠͡p t̠ʲ/.


Occurrence of a voiceless plosive variable between alveolar and dental positions
Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Arabic Modern Standard تين/tīn [tiːn] 'fig' Laminal denti-alveolar or alveolar, depending on the speaker's native dialect. See Arabic phonology
English Broad South African[43] talk [toːk] 'talk' Laminal denti-alveolar for some speakers, alveolar for other speakers.[43][44][45]
Scottish[44] [tʰɔk]
Welsh[45] [tʰɒːk]
German Standard[46] Tochter [ˈtɔxtɐ] 'daughter' Varies between laminal denti-alveolar, laminal alveolar and apical alveolar.[46] See Standard German phonology
Greek[47] τρία tria [ˈtɾiä] 'three' Varies between dental, laminal denti-alveolar and alveolar, depending on the environment.[47] See Modern Greek phonology
Malay تڠکڤ/tangkap [t̪äŋ.käp̚] 'catch' More commonly dental. Often unreleased in syllable codas. See Malay phonology
Norwegian Urban East[48] dans [t̻ɑns] 'dance' Varies between laminal denti-alveolar and laminal alveolar. It is usually transcribed /d/. It may be partially voiced [], and it contrasts with voiceless aspirated form, which is usually transcribed /t/.[48] See Norwegian phonology
Persian[49] توت [t̪ʰuːt̪ʰ] 'berry' Varies between laminal denti-alveolar and apical alveolar.[49] See Persian phonology
Slovak[50][51] to [t̻ɔ̝] 'that' Varies between laminal denti-alveolar and laminal alveolar.[50][51] See Slovak phonology

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Liberman et al. (1967), p. ?.
  2. ^ Ladefoged (2005), p. 165.
  3. ^ Dum-Tragut (2009), p. 17.
  4. ^ Padluzhny (1989), p. 47.
  5. ^ Carbonell & Llisterri (1992), p. 53.
  6. ^ Skarnitzl, Radek. "Asymmetry in the Czech Alveolar Stops: An EPG Study". Archived from the original on 22 March 2023. Retrieved 30 March 2022.
  7. ^ Remijsen & Manyang (2009), pp. 115 and 121.
  8. ^ a b Collins & Mees (2003), p. 302.
  9. ^ Roca & Johnson (1999), p. 24.
  10. ^ "Week 18 (ii). Northern Ireland" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 2021-01-12. Retrieved 2015-04-26.
  11. ^ Fougeron & Smith (1993), p. 73.
  12. ^ Lee & Zee (2009), p. 109.
  13. ^ Ladefoged (2005), p. 141.
  14. ^ Soderberg & Olson (2008), p. 210.
  15. ^ Rogers & d'Arcangeli (2004), p. 117.
  16. ^ Okada (1999), p. 117.
  17. ^ Jerzy Treder. "Fonetyka i fonologia". Archived from the original on 2016-03-04.
  18. ^ Kara (2003), p. 11.
  19. ^ Nau (1998), p. 6.
  20. ^ a b c Sadowsky et al. (2013), pp. 88–89.
  21. ^ a b Ladefoged (2005), p. 158.
  22. ^ Blust (1999), p. 330.
  23. ^ Jassem (2003), p. 103.
  24. ^ Cruz-Ferreira (1995), p. 91.
  25. ^ Jones & Ward (1969), p. 99.
  26. ^ Bauer, Michael. Blas na Gàidhlig: The Practical Guide to Gaelic Pronunciation. Glasgow: Akerbeltz, 2011.
  27. ^ Landau et al. (1999), p. 66.
  28. ^ Pretnar & Tokarz (1980), p. 21.
  29. ^ Martínez-Celdrán, Fernández-Planas & Carrera-Sabaté (2003), p. 255.
  30. ^ Engstrand (1999), p. 141.
  31. ^ S. Buk; J. Mačutek; A. Rovenchak (2008). "Some properties of the Ukrainian writing system". Glottometrics. 16: 63–79. arXiv:0802.4198.
  32. ^ Danyenko & Vakulenko (1995), p. 4.
  33. ^ a b Sjoberg (1963), p. 10.
  34. ^ Thompson (1959), pp. 458–461.
  35. ^ Merrill (2008), p. 108.
  36. ^ Basbøll (2005), p. 61.
  37. ^ Grønnum (2005), p. 120.
  38. ^ Gussenhoven (1992), p. 45.
  39. ^ a b Wells (1982), p. 515.
  40. ^ Szende (1994), p. 91.
  41. ^ a b Gilles & Trouvain (2013), pp. 67–68.
  42. ^ Palatalization in Brazilian Portuguese revisited Archived 2014-04-07 at the Wayback Machine (in Portuguese)
  43. ^ a b Lass (2002), p. 120.
  44. ^ a b Scobbie, Gordeeva & Matthews (2006), p. 4.
  45. ^ a b Wells (1982), p. 388.
  46. ^ a b Mangold (2005), p. 47.
  47. ^ a b Arvaniti (2007), p. 10.
  48. ^ a b Kristoffersen (2000), p. 22.
  49. ^ a b Mahootian (2002:287–289)
  50. ^ a b Kráľ (1988), p. 72.
  51. ^ a b Pavlík (2004), pp. 98–99.


External links[edit]