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Dental approximant: Wikis


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IPA – number 131
IPA – text ð
IPA – image {{{imagesize}}}
Entity ð
Kirshenbaum D
About this sound Sound sample

The voiced dental non-sibilant fricative is a type of consonantal sound, used in some spoken languages. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound, eth, is ð, and the equivalent X-SAMPA symbol is D. The symbol ð was taken from the Old English letter eth, which could stand for either a voiced or unvoiced interdental fricative. This symbol is also sometimes used to represent the dental approximant, though that is more clearly written with the lowering diacritic, ð̞. The dental 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 teeth, as they are with other dental consonants. It is familiar to English speakers as the th sound in then.

This sound, and its unvoiced counterpart, are actually rare phonemes. The great majority of European and Asian languages, such as German, French, Persian, Japanese, and Chinese, lack this sound. Native speakers of those languages in which the sound is not present often have difficulty enunciating or distinguishing it, and replace it with a voiced alveolar fricative, a voiced dental plosive, or a voiced labiodental fricative (known respectively as th-alveolarization, th-stopping, and th-fronting). As for Europe, there seems to be a great arc where this sound (and/or the unvoiced variant) is present. Most of mainland Europe lacks the sound; however, the "periphery" languages of Welsh, Elfdalian, English, Spanish, Danish, Arabic, some Italian dialects, Greek, and Albanian have this phoneme in their consonant inventories.



Features of the voiced dental fricative:


In the following transcriptions, the undertack diacritic may be used to indicate an approximant [ð̞].

Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Albanian idhull [iðuɫ] 'idol'
Aleut Atkan dialect dax̂ [ðɑχ] 'eye'
Arabic Standard[1] ذهب [ˈðahab] 'gold' See Arabic phonology
Berta [fɛ̀ːðɑ̀nɑ́] 'to sweep'
Catalan[2] cadàver [kəˈðaβə] 'cadaver' See Catalan phonology
Danish hvid [ˈʋiðˀ] 'white' See Danish phonology
Elfdalian baiða [ˈbaɪða] 'wait'
English this [ðɪs] 'this' See English phonology
Fijian ciwa [ðiwa] 'nine'
Greek δάφνη [ˈðafni] 'laurel' See Modern Greek phonology
Gwich’in niidhàn [niːðân] 'you want'
Harsusi [ðebeːr] 'bee'
Hän ë̀dhä̀ [ə̂ðɑ̂] 'hide'
Kabyle uḇ [ðuβ] 'to be exhausted'
Occitan Gascon que divi [ke ˈðiwi] 'what I should'
Portuguese European[3] nada [ˈnaðɐ] 'nothing' Northern and central dialects.[4] See Portuguese phonology
Sioux Nakota ? [ˈðaptã] 'five'
Sardinian nidu [ˈniðu] 'nest'
Spanish[5] dedo [ˈd̪e̞ð̞o̞] 'finger' See Spanish phonology
Swahili dhambi [ðɑmbi] 'sin'
Tamil ஒன்பது [onbʌðɯ] 'nine' See Tamil phonology
Tanacross dhet [ðet] 'liver'
Tutchone Northern edhó [eðǒ] 'hide'
Southern adhǜ [aðɨ̂]
Welsh bardd [bɑrð] 'bard'
Western Neo-Aramaic ? [aħːað] 'one'
Zapotec Tilquiapan[6] example needed Intervocalic allophone of /d/

Voiced alveolar non-sibilant fricative

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 aren't palatalized), it can represent this sound as in a number of ways including < ð̠ >, <ð͇> (retracted or alveolarized ð, respectively), or < ɹ̝ > (constricted ɹ).



  • Its manner of articulation is simple fricative, which means it is produced by constricting air flow through a narrow channel at the place of articulation, causing turbulence, but without the grooved tongue and directed airflow, or the high frequencies, of a sibilant.
  • Its place of articulation is alveolar, which means it is articulated with either the tip or the blade of the tongue against the alveolar ridge, termed respectively apical and laminal.
  • Its phonation type is voiced, which means the vocal cords are vibrating during the articulation.
  • It is an oral consonant, which means air is allowed to escape through the mouth.
  • It is a central consonant, which means it is produced by allowing the airstream to flow over the middle of the tongue, rather than the sides.
  • The airstream mechanism is pulmonic egressive, which means it is articulated by pushing air out of the lungs and through the vocal tract, rather than from the glottis or the mouth.


Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Icelandic þakið [θ̠akið̠] 'roof' See Icelandic phonology
English Scouse maid [meɪð̠] 'maid' Allophone of /d/ See English phonology
South Africa round [ɹ̝ɑənd] 'round'

See also



  • Carbonell, Joan F.; Llisterri, Joaquim (1992), "Catalan", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 22 (1-2): 53–56  
  • Cruz-Ferreira, Madalena (1995), "European Portuguese", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 25 (2): 90–94  
  • Martínez-Celdrán, Eugenio; Fernández-Planas, Ana Ma.; Carrera-Sabaté, Josefina (2003), "Castilian Spanish", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 33 (2): 255–259  
  • Merrill, Elizabeth (2008), "Tilquipan Zapotec", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 38 (1): 107–114  
  • Mateus, Maria Helena; d'Andrade, Ernesto (2000), The Phonology of Portuguese, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-823581-X  
  • Thelwall, Robin (1990), "Illustrations of the IPA: Arabic", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 20 (2): 37–41  


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