True fricatives

| Bilabial fricatives | Labiodental fricatives | Alveolar fricatives (hissers) | Retroflex fricatives (hissers) | Alveolar fricatives (hushers) | Palatal fricatives (hissers) | Velar fricatives | Uvular fricatives | Pharyngeal fricatives | Glottal fricatives
 

This section describes the dorsal fricatives and the fricatives where the dorsal/lateral opposition is unimportant.

 

Among the fricatives below are ones described as hissers and hushers. The realization of a hisser requires a high degree of tension in the tongue: a groove is formed along the whole length of the tongue, in particular at the place of articulation where the air passes through a little round opening. The hushers are produced similarly, but with a shallower groove in the tongue, and a little opening more oval than round. The lips are often rounded or projected outwards during the realization of a husher (see figure 3.14 below).





 


Hissers

 Hushers

 

Figure 3.14: hissers (left) and hushers (right)

 

You can hear each sound by clicking on his IPA transcription.

Bilabial fricatives

Voicelss bilabial fricative. The lips are close together but do not touch, and usually the lower lip is slightly further forward than the upper lip. This symbol stands for both a fricative articulation and a spirant articulation, according to the degree of tension of the articulators (see figure 3.15 below). This spirant can be considered the lax counterpart of the the stop [p]. Considering its place of articulation, it is unimportant to class this sound as dorsal or lateral.



Figure 3.15 : bilabial fricative
Figure 3.15 : bilabial fricative
 


Voiced bilabial fricative. Same as above, but with vibration of the vocal cords. This symbol stands for both a fricative articulation and a spirant articulation, according to the degree of tension of the articulators. The spirant is the lax counterpart of the the stop [b]. Considering its place of articulation, it is unimportant to class this sound as dorsal or lateral.

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Labiodental fricatives

Voiceless labiodental fricative. The lower lip is brought close to the upper teeth, occasionally even grazing the teeth with its outer surface, or with its inner surface, imparting in this case a slight hushing sound (see figure 3.16 below). Considering its place of articulation, it is unimportant to class this sound as dorsal or lateral.

Figure 3.16 :  labiodental fricative
Figure 3.16 : labiodental fricative


Voiced labiodental fricative. Same as above, but with vibration of the vocal cords. Considering its place of articulation, it is unimportant to class this sound as dorsal or lateral.

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Alveolar fricatives (hissers)

Voiceless alveolar fricative (hisser). The apico-alveolar hissers are produced by bringing the end of the tongue close to the alveolar ridge (see figure 3.17 below). These hissers can be divided into three categories, according to the precise part of the tongue that comes into play. Coronal implies the front margin of the tongue (as in English), apical the very tip (as in Castilian Spanish), and post-dental the front part of the tongue body (as in French). The quality of the sound is noticeably altered; the IPA uses diacritical marks to indicate distinctions of this magnitude. In terms of general tongue shape, this articulation qualifies as a hisser.

Figure 3.17 : alveolar hisser (fricative)
Figure 3.17 : alveolar hisser (fricative)

Voiced alveolar fricative (hisser). Same as above, but with vibration of the vocal cords. The remarks made for the voiceless sound are equally valid for the voiced variant.

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Retroflex fricatives (hissers)

Voiceless retroflex fricative (hisser). The tongue tip is directed up and back; the underside of the tongue approaches the roof of the mouth (see figure 3.18 below). In reality, this retroflex fricative, like its voiced counterpart below, is often realized as a husher, since the tongue groove is generally not narrow enough to produce a true hissing sound. The IPA uses the same symbol for both possibilities. (See above regarding the characteristic tongue shape of the hissers.)

Figure 3.18 :  retroflex fricative
Figure 3.18 : retroflex fricative

Voiced retroflex fricative (hisser). Same as above, but with vibration of the vocal cords.

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Alveolar fricatives (hushers)

Voiceless alveolar fricative (husher). The tip of the tongue touches the alveolar ridge; the shape of the tongue is that described for hushers in general (see figure 3.19 below).

Figure 3.19 : alveolar fricative
Figure 3.19 : alveolar fricative

Voiced alveolar fricative (husher). Same as above, but with vibration of the vocal cords.

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Palatal fricatives (hissers)

Voiceless palatal fricative (hisser). The tongue body forms a groove and approaches the hard palate (see figure 3.20 below). In terms of general tongue shape, this articulation qualifies as a hisser.

Figure 3.20 : palatal fricative (hisser)
Figure 3.20 : palatal fricative (hisser)

Voiced palatal fricative (hisser). Same as above, but with vibration of the vocal cords.

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Velar fricatives

Voiceless velar fricative. The back of the tongue is raised to approach the soft palate (see figure 3.21 below).

Figure 3.21 : velar fricative
Figure 3.21 : velar fricative

Voiced velar fricative. Same as above, but with vibration of the vocal cords. Warning: do not confuse this symbol (large gamma) with that of the unrounded half-closed back vowel (small gamma).

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Uvular fricatives

Voiceless uvular fricative. The tongue body is raised far enough back to approach the soft palate near the uvula (see figure 3.22 below).

Figure 3.22 : uvular fricative
Figure 3.22 : uvular fricative

 

Voiced uvular fricative. Same as above, but with vibration of the vocal cords.

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Pharyngeal fricatives

Voiceless pharyngeal fricative. The root of the tongue is retracted towards the back wall of the pharynx. The airstream is thus restricted considerably and the friction quite strong. This is a very tense articulation (see figure 3.23 below).

Figure 3.23 : pharyngeal fricative
Figure 3.23 : pharyngeal fricative

Voiced pharyngeal fricative. Same as above, but with vibration of the vocal cords.

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Glottal fricatives

Voiceless glottal fricative. The glottis is almost completely closed, except for a narrow opening in its upper part at the level of the arythenoidal cartilage (see figure 3.24 below). A strong friction develops when air flows through this opening.

Figure 3.24 : glottal fricative
Figure 3.24 : glottal fricative
Voiced glottal fricative. Same as above, but with vibration of the vocal cords.

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