Voiceless dental fricative

Voiceless dental fricative
θ
IPA number 130
Encoding
Entity (decimal) θ
Unicode (hex) U+03B8
X-SAMPA T
Kirshenbaum T
Braille
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The voiceless dental non-sibilant fricative is a type of consonantal sound used in some spoken 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 post-classical 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.

This sound and its voiced counterpart are rare phonemes occurring in 4% of languages in a phonological analysis of 2155 languages [1]. Among the more than 60 languages with over 10 million speakers, only English, various dialects of Arabic, Standard European Spanish, Swahili (in words derived from Arabic), Burmese, 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/) (as in Indonesian), voiceless dental stop (/t/), or a voiceless labiodental fricative (/f/); known respectively as th-alveolarization, th-stopping,[2] and th-fronting.[3]

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 Scots, English, Elfdalian, and Icelandic, but it is alveolar in the latter.[4][5] Among non-Germanic Indo-European languages as a whole, the sound was also once much more widespread, but is today preserved in a few languages including the Brythonic languages, Castilian Spanish, Venetian, Albanian and Greek. It has likewise disappeared from many Semitic languages, such as Hebrew and many modern varieties of Arabic (excluding Tunisian, Mesopotamian Arabic and various dialects in the Arabian Peninsula which still includes it).

Features

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 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.

Occurrence

LanguageWordIPAMeaningNotes
Albanianthotë[θɔtə]'say

s'

ArabicModern Standard[6]ثَانِيَة [ˈθaːnija] 'second time/place'Represented by ث. See Arabic phonology.
Amami[θeda]'sun'
Arapahoyoo3on[jɔːθɔn]'five'
Assyrian Neo-Aramaicܒܬ[beθa]'house'Mostly used in the Tyari, Barwari, Tel Keppe, Batnaya and Alqosh dialects; realized as [t] in other varieties.
Bashkirуҫал[uθɑɫ]'angry'
Berta[θɪ́ŋɑ̀]'to eat'
Burmese[7]သုံး / thon:[θòʊ̯̃]'three'Commonly realized as an affricate [t̪͡θ].[8]
Cornisheth[ɛθ]'eight'
Emiliano-Romagnolo[9]faza[ˈfaːθɐ]'face'
Englishthin [θɪn]'thin'See English phonology
GalicianMost dialects[10]cero[ˈθɛɾʊ]'zero'Merges with /s/ into [s] in Western dialects.[10] See Galician phonology
Greekθάλασσα[ˈθalasa]'sea'See Modern Greek phonology
Gweno[riθo]'eye'
Gwich’inth[θaɬ]'pants'
Hännihthän[nihθɑn]'I want'
Harsusi[θəroː]'two'
HebrewIraqiעברית[ʕibˈriːθ]'Hebrew language'See Modern Hebrew phonology
Yemenite[ʕivˈriːθ]
HlaiBasadung[θsio]'one'
ItalianTuscan[11]i capitani[iˌhäɸiˈθäːni]'the captains'Intervocalic allophone of /t/.[11] See Italian phonology and Tuscan gorgia
Kabyleafa[θafaθ]'light'
KarenSgawသၢ[θø˧]'three'
Karukyiθa[jiθa]'one'
Kickapooneθwi[nɛθwi]'three'
Kwama[mɑ̄ˈθíl]'to laugh'
Leoneseceru[θeɾu]'zero'
Lorediakarkar[θar]'four'
MalaySelasa[θəlaθa]'Tuesday'Mostly occurs in Arabic loanwords originally containing this sound, but the writing is not distinguished from the Arabic loanwords with the [s] sound and this sound must be learned separately by the speakers. See Malay phonology.
Massa[faθ]'five'
Min Languages Thena [-dəŋA] 'shaman'
SaanichŦES[teθʔəs]'eight'
SardinianNuoresepetha[pɛθa]'meat'
Shark Bay[θar]'four'
Shawneenthwi[nθwɪ]'three'
SiouxNakodaktusa[ktũˈθa]'four'
SpanishCastilian[12]cazar[käˈθär]'to hunt'Interdental. See Spanish phonology and Ceceo
Swahilithamini[θɑmini]'value'Mostly occurs in Arabic loanwords originally containing this sound.
Tanacrossthiit[θiːtʰ]'embers'
Todaஉஇனபஒ[wɨnboθ]'nine'
Turkmensekiz[θekið]'eight'
TutchoneNortherntho[θo]'pants'
Southernthü[θɨ]
Upland YumanHavasupai[θerap]'five'
Hualapai[θarap]
Yavapai[θerapi]
VenetianEastern dialectsçinque[ˈθiŋkwe]'five'Corresponds to /s/ in other dialects.
Wolayttashiththa[ɕiθθa]'flower'
Welshsaith[saiθ]'seven'
Zhuangsaw[θaːu˨˦]'language'

Voiceless denti-alveolar sibilant

Voiceless denti-alveolar sibilant
s̻̪
s̪̻
Encoding
X-SAMPA s_m_d

The voiceless denti-alveolar sibilant is the only sibilant fricative in some dialects of Andalusian Spanish. It has no official symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet, though its features would be transcribed s̻̪ or s̪̻ (using the ◌̻, the diacritic marking a laminal consonant, and ◌̪, the diacritic marking a dental consonant). It is usually represented by an ad-hoc symbol such as , θˢ̣, or s̟ (advanced diacritic).

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 [θˢ̣] to represent it."

Features

Features of the voiceless denti-alveolar sibilant:

  • 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.

Occurrence

LanguageWordIPAMeaningNotes
SpanishAndalusian[13]casa[ˈkäs̻̪ä]'house'Present in dialects with ceceo. See Spanish phonology

See also

Notes

References

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