Dental Consonant
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Dental Consonant
IPA Number408
Entity (decimal)̪
Unicode (hex)U+032A

A dental consonant is a consonant articulated with the tongue against the upper teeth, such as /d/, /n/, /t/ and /l/ in some languages. Dentals are usually distinguished[clarification needed] from sounds in which contact is made with the tongue and the gum ridge, as in English (see alveolar consonant) because of the acoustic similarity of the sounds and that in the Latin script they are generally written using the same symbols (like t, d, n).

In the International Phonetic Alphabet, the diacritic for dental consonant is COMBINING BRIDGE BELOW.


For many languages, such as Albanian, Irish and Russian, velarization is generally associated with more dental articulations of coronal consonants. Thus, velarized consonants, such as Albanian /?/, tend to be dental or denti-alveolar, and non-velarized consonants tend to be retracted to an alveolar position.[1]

Sanskrit, Hindustani and all other Indo-Aryan languages have an entire set of dental stops that occur phonemically as voiced and voiceless and with or without aspiration. The nasal /n/ also exists but is quite alveolar and apical in articulation.[] To native speakers, the English alveolar /t/ and /d/ sound more like the corresponding retroflex consonants of their languages than like dentals.[]

Spanish /t/ and /d/ are denti-alveolar,[2] while /l/ and /n/ are prototypically alveolar but assimilate to the place of articulation of a following consonant. Likewise, Italian /t/, /d/, /t?s/, /d?z/ are denti-alveolar ([t?], [d?], [ts?], and [dz?] respectively) and /l/ and /n/ become denti-alveolar before a following dental consonant.[3][4]

Although denti-alveolar consonants are often described as dental, it is the point of contact farthest to the back that is most relevant, defines the maximum acoustic space of resonance and gives a characteristic sound to a consonant.[5] In French, the contact that is farthest back is alveolar or sometimes slightly pre-alveolar.


Dental/denti-alveolar consonants as transcribed by the International Phonetic Alphabet include:

IPA Description Example
Language Orthography IPA Meaning
n? dental nasal Russian ?? [ban?k] 'bank'
t? voiceless dental plosive Finnish tutti [t?ut?t?i] 'pacifier'
d? voiced dental plosive Arabic ? [d?i:n] 'religion'
s? voiceless dental sibilant fricative Polish kosa [k?s?a] 'scythe'
z? voiced dental sibilant fricative Polish koza [k?z?a] 'goat'
? voiceless dental nonsibilant fricative
(also often called "interdental")
English thing [?]
ð voiced dental nonsibilant fricative
(also often called "interdental")
English this [ð?s]
ð? dental approximant Spanish codo [koð?o] 'elbow'
l? dental lateral approximant Spanish alto [al?t?o] 'tall'
t?' dental ejective [example needed]
voiced dental implosive [example needed]
? dental click release (many different consonants) Xhosa ukúcola [uk'úk?ola] 'to grind fine'

See also


  1. ^ Recasens & Espinosa (2005:4)
  2. ^ Martínez-Celdrán, Fernández-Planas & Carrera-Sabaté (2003:257)
  3. ^ Rogers & d'Arcangeli (2004:117)
  4. ^ Real Academia Española (2011)
  5. ^ Ladefoged and Maddieson (1996),[page needed].


  • Ladefoged, Peter; Maddieson, Ian (1996). The Sounds of the World's Languages. Oxford: Blackwell. ISBN 978-0-631-19815-4.
  • Martínez-Celdrán, Eugenio; Fernández-Planas, Ana Ma.; Carrera-Sabaté, Josefina (2003), "Castilian Spanish", Journal of the International Phonetic Association, 33 (2): 255-259, doi:10.1017/S0025100303001373
  • Recasens, Daniel; Espinosa, Aina (2005), "Articulatory, positional and coarticulatory characteristics for clear /l/ and dark /l/: evidence from two Catalan dialects", Journal of the International Phonetic Association, 35 (1): 1-25, doi:10.1017/S0025100305001878
  • Rogers, Derek; d'Arcangeli, Luciana (2004), "Italian", Journal of the International Phonetic Association, 34 (1): 117-121, doi:10.1017/S0025100304001628
  • Real Academia Española; Association of Spanish Language Academies (2011), Nueva Gramática de la lengua española (English: New Grammar of the Spanish Language), 3 (Fonética y fonología), Espasa, ISBN 978-84-670-3321-2

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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