Alveolo-palatal consonant

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Sagittal section of alveolo-palatal fricative

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In phonetics, alveolo-palatal (or alveopalatal) consonants, sometimes synonymous with pre-palatal consonants, are intermediate in articulation between the coronal and dorsal consonants, or which have simultaneous alveolar and palatal articulation. In the official IPA chart, alveolo-palatals would appear between the retroflex and palatal consonants but for "lack of space".[1] Ladefoged and Maddieson characterize the alveolo-palatals as palatalized postalveolars (palatalized palato-alveolars), articulated with the blade of the tongue behind the alveolar ridge and the body of the tongue raised toward the palate,[2] whereas Esling describes them as advanced palatals (pre-palatals), the furthest front of the dorsal consonants, articulated with the body of the tongue approaching the alveolar ridge.[1] These descriptions are essentially equivalent, since the contact includes both the blade and body (but not the tip) of the tongue (see schematic at right). They are front enough that the fricatives and affricates are sibilants, the only sibilants among the dorsal consonants.


The alveolo-palatal sibilants are often used in varieties of Chinese such as Mandarin, Hakka, and Wu, as well as other East Asian languages such as Japanese and Korean. Alveolo-palatal sibilants are also a feature of many Slavic languages, such as Polish, Russian, and Serbo-Croatian, and of Northwest Caucasian languages, such as Abkhaz and Ubykh. The alveolo-palatal consonants included in the International Phonetic Alphabet are:

IPA Description Example
Language Orthography IPA Meaning
ɕ Voiceless alveolo-palatal sibilant Mandarin (xiǎo) [ɕiɑu˨˩˦] small
ʑ Voiced alveolo-palatal sibilant Polish zioło [ʑɔwɔ] herb
t͡ɕ Voiceless alveolo-palatal affricate Serbo-Croatian kuća / кућа [kut͡ɕa] house
d͡ʑ Voiced alveolo-palatal affricate Japanese 地震 (jishin) [d͡ʑiɕĩɴ] earthquake

The letters ⟨ɕ⟩ and ⟨ʑ⟩ are essentially equivalent to ⟨ ʃʲ⟩ and ⟨ʒʲ⟩. They are the sibilant homologues of the pre-palatal fricatives [ç̟] and [ʝ̟].

Stops, nasals and liquids

Symbols for alveolo-palatal stops (ȶ, ȡ), nasals (ȵ), and liquids (ȴ) are sometimes used in sinological circles (a circumflex accent is also sometimes seen), but these are not recognized by the IPA. They may actually be simple palatal or palatalized consonants, classified as alveolo-palatals because they pattern with the alveolo-palatal sibilants of the language rather than because they are actually alveolo-palatal in articulation. In standard IPA, they can be transcribed ⟨t̠ʲ d̠ʲ n̠ʲ l̠ʲ⟩ or ⟨c̟ ɟ̟ ɲ̟ ʎ̟⟩. An alternative transcription for the voiced alveolo-palatal stop and nasal is ⟨ɟ˖ ɲ˖⟩, but it is used only when ⟨ɟ̟ ɲ̟⟩ don't display properly.

For example, the Polish nasal represented with the letter ń is a palatalized laminal alveolar nasal and thus often described as alveolo-palatal rather than palatal. The "palatal" consonants of Indigenous Australian languages are also often judged closer to alveolo-palatal in their articulation.

IPA Description Example
Language Orthography IPA Meaning
ȶ t̂ t̠ʲ, c̟ Voiceless alveolo-palatal stop Korean 티끌 tikkeul [t̠ʲʰiʔk͈ɯl] dust
ȡ d̂ d̠ʲ, ɟ̟ Voiced alveolo-palatal stop Korean 반디 bandi [b̥ɐnd̠ʲi] firefly
ȵ n̂ n̠ʲ, ɲ̟ Alveolo-palatal nasal Yi language nyi [n̠ʲi˧] sit
ȴ l̂ l̠ʲ, ʎ̟ Alveolo-palatal lateral Catalan ull [ˈul̠ʲ] eye


  1. 1.0 1.1 John Esling, 2010, "Phonetic Notation". In Hardcastle, Laver, & Gibbon, eds, The Handbook of Phonetic Sciences, p 693
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Further reading

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