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Voiced alveolar fricative: Wikis


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IPA – number 133
IPA – text z
IPA – image {{{imagesize}}}
Entity z
Kirshenbaum z
About this sound Sound sample

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 symbol [z] is not normally used for dental or postalveolar sibilants unless modified by a diacritic ([z̪] and [z̠] respectively).
  • The IPA symbol for the alveolar non-sibilant fricative is derived by means of diacritics; it can be ð̠ or ɹ̝.
Coronal fricatives
Dental Alveolar Postalveolar
retroflex palato-
sibilant ʐ ʒ ʑ
non-sibilant ð ð̠/ð͇/ɹ̝ ɻ̝


Voiced alveolar sibilant

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.

In the eastern half of Asia, the Pacific and the Americas, [z] is very rare as a phoneme. The presence of [z] in a given language always implies the presence of a voiceless [s].



Features of the voiced alveolar fricative:


In the following transcriptions, diacritics may be used to distinguish between apical [z̺] and laminal [z̻].

Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Albanian zjarr [zjar] 'fire'
Arabic Standard[1] زائِر [zaːˈʔir] 'visitor' See Arabic phonology
Catalan[2][3] zero [z̺ɛɾu] 'zero' See Catalan phonology
Chechen зурма/zurma [zuɾma] 'music'
Czech zima [zɪma] 'winter' See Czech phonology
Dutch[4] zee [zeː] 'sea' See Dutch phonology
English size [saɪz] 'size' See English phonology
French[5] zèbre [zɛbʀ] 'zebra' See French phonology
Georgian[6] არი [ˈzɑɾi] 'bell'
German süß [zyːs] 'sweet' See German phonology
Greek Athens dialect[7] ζάλη [ˈz̻ali] 'dizziness' See Modern Greek phonology
Hungarian zálog [zaːloɡ] 'escrow' See Hungarian phonology
Italian[8] caso [ˈkazo] 'case' See Italian phonology
Japanese[9] 全部/zenbu [zembɯ] 'everything' See Japanese phonology
Kala Lagaw Ya zilamiz [zilʌmiz] 'go'
Occitan Gascon casèrna [kaz̺ɛrno] 'barracks'
Languedocien ser [bez̺e] 'to see'
Limousin jòune [ˈzɒwne] 'young'
Malay zaman [zaman] 'age, period'
Maltese zelu [zelu] 'zeal'
Polish[10] zero Pl-zero.ogg [ˈzɛrɔ] 'zero' See Polish phonology
Portuguese[11] casa [ˈkazɐ] 'house' See Portuguese phonology
Romanian[12] zar [z̪ar] 'dice' See Romanian phonology.
Russian[13] заезжать [zəɪˈʑʑætʲ] 'to pick up' Contrasts with palatalized version. See Russian phonology
Slovak zima [zɪma] 'winter' See Slovak phonology
Swahili lazima [lɑzimɑ] 'must'
Turkish z [ɡœz] 'eye' See Turkish phonology
Vietnamese gio [zɔ] 'ashes' See Vietnamese phonology
Zapotec Tilquiapan[14] guanaz [ɡʷanaz]

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



  • Adams, Douglas Q. (1975), "The Distribution of Retracted Sibilants in Medieval Europe", Language 51 (2): 282–292  
  • 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  
  • Fougeron, Cecile; Smith, Caroline L (1993), "Illustrations of the IPA:French", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 23 (2): 73–76  
  • Gussenhoven, Carlos (1992), "Dutch", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 22 (2): 45–47  
  • Jassem, Wiktor (2003), "Polish", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 33 (1): 103–107  
  • Honeybone, P (2001), "Lenition inhibition in Liverpool English", English Language and Linguistics 5 (2): 213–249  
  • Jones, Daniel; Dennis, Ward (1969), The Phonetics of Russian, Cambridge University Press  
  • Maddieson, Ian (1984), Patterns of Sound, Camebridge University Press  
  • Marotta, Giovanna; Barth, Marlen (2005), "Acoustic and sociolingustic aspects of lenition in Liverpool English", Studi Linguistici e Filologici Online 3 (2): 377–413  
  • 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  
  • Okada, Hideo (1991), "Phonetic Representation:Japanese", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 21 (2): 94–97  
  • Pandeli, H; Eska, J; Ball, Martin; Rahilly, J, "Problems of phonetic transcription: the case of the Hiberno-English slit-t", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 27: 65–75  
  • Rogers, Derek; d'Arcangeli, Luciana (2004), "Italian", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 34 (1): 117–121  
  • Shosted, Ryan K.; Vakhtang, Chikovani (2006), "Standard Georgian", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 36 (2): 255–264  
  • Torreblanca, Máximo (1988), "Latín Basium, Castellano Beso, Catalán Bes, Portugués Beijo", Hispanic Review 56 (3): 343–348  
  • Thelwall, Robin (1990), "Illustrations of the IPA: Arabic", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 20 (2): 37–41  
  • Wheeler, Max W (2005). The Phonology Of Catalan. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0199258147.  


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