Talk:Postalveolar consonant

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Moved for three reasons:

  1. Conform to IPA usage
  2. Conform to terminology used in most Wikipedia articles
  3. Avoid confustion between alveolo-palatal fricatives (/ɕ/ and /ʑ/) and postalveolar ("palato-alveolar") fricatives (/ʃ/ and /ʒ/); these are not the same

Tkinias 20:55, 8 Apr 2004 (UTC)

The terminology is confusing. I know the official IPA chart lists [ʃ] and [ʒ] in a column labeled "postalveolar" (not "palato-alveolar", but they need not be our only source. In A Course in Phonetics (pp. 144 of the 4th edn.), Peter Ladefoged writes of [ɕ, ʑ]:
"They are similar to [ʃ, ʒ], but have considerable raising of the front of the tongue. They are also made in the post-alveolar region." (emphasis mine)
On the previous page he says it's possible to describe both retroflex and palato-alveolar sounds as "post-alveolar", the difference between them being that retroflexes are apical while palato-alveolars are laminal. If we follow his suggestions, then Postalveolar consonant should be in effect a disambig page, saying this is a cover term for Palato-alveolar consonants (which should then be on a separate page), Alveolo-palatal consonants, and Retroflex consonants. --Angr/tɔk tə mi 17:06, 27 September 2005 (UTC)
Yes, I think it would be best to go with your suggestion, Angr. I added disambiguating wording to the postalveolar article some time ago, but was reluctant to actually move it because the word is so commonly used to mean palato-alveolar. I can anticipate one objection to the move: 'The terms "palato-alveolar" and "alveolo-palatal" are too similar to be easily distinguished by most people.' That's why the label was changed to postalveolar on the IPA chart, for example. But if you're prepared to defend yourself against charges that you're confusing everyone, I'll throw my voice on your side.
We might want to leave the clicks where they are?
As for palato-alveolars, they aren't necessarily laminal or apical. In English they can be either. This according to Ladefoged in SOWL, though I think laminal might be more common. There are also languages which have only laminals, like Toda. (I had once put 'laminal' in all the articles, but removed it as I read further.) L calls them 'domed' postalveolars, which he says is effectively partial palatalization. Alveolo-palatals are fully palatalized, and therefore laminal. However, retroflexes are defined negatively, by not being palatalized, rather than by being apical. They may be apical, as in Hindi; or laminal, as in Polish and Mandarin; or subapical, as in Tamil. This all according to SOWL.
By the way, since Ladefoged is the editor of the IPA Journal, and his argumentation is much more detailed than, say, the IPA Handbook, I think he's a far better source than the IPA. kwami 19:04, 27 September 2005 (UTC)
I think if people can learn to distinguish between American Indians and Indian Americans, they can learn to distinguish between palato-alveolars and alveolo-palatals! I do think the clicks should stay at "postalveolar" since it isn't clear that they're palato-alveolar in the same way that [ʃ, ʒ] are. We don't have to say palato-alveolars are necessarily laminal and retroflexes necessarily apical, just that "postalveolar" is a cover term for all three, but that clicks are hard to define as one of the three and so are best described more vaguely as postalveolar. (Does any language contrast retroflex and (post)alveolar clicks?) --Angr/tɔk tə mi 19:17, 27 September 2005 (UTC)
The "retroflex" clicks are apical alveolar or postalvolar (subapical in at least one dialect of one language), while the "palatal" clicks are laminal postalveolars. (They make very broad contact with the mouth, however, so calling them postalveolars might be debatable.) Damin seems to have contrasted apical alveolar and apical postalveolar clicks, but it's extinct and and not well described; the interpretation of the clicks in that article are based on the standard plosive articulations found in Oz, and so the details might easily be wrong. See Click_consonant#Inventories_of_click_releases.
I've never seen any clicks described as palatalized. In so far as that's true, and they actually are postalveolar, both the "retroflex" and "palatal" clicks would be retroflex by the definition of 'non-palatalized postalveolar'. However, actually classifying them this way might cause a lot of argument. For one thing, the 'retroflex' might be alveolar in many languages, and the 'palatal' is somewhat vague as to its position. kwami 19:44, 27 September 2005 (UTC)

The Laminal Fricatives and Alveolo-Palatals[edit]

Is Ladefoged our only reference here? The article seems to imply postalveolar laminal and retroflex laminal are the same sound.

Indeed, the relevant Polish and Mandarin fricatives/affricates are decribed using both sound classifications seemingly interchangeably across various wikipedia articles. However, the Polish and Mandarin versions of the sounds do not sound the same. In fact, I would be inclined to clasify Polish as postalveolar laminal and Mandarin as retroflex laminal.

Similarly the Mandarin alveolo-palatal fricatives sound nothing like the Polish ones in any Mandarin I've ever heard spoken and I'd much sooner clasify them as palatals.

It would be really great to get some expert opinion in here, and if necessary, clean some of this up (at the very least disambiguate as much as possible). -- Het 14:05, 28 December 2006 (UTC)

Yes, it would be nice to get this straightened out. But Mandarin sh is not classically retroflex (that is, there is no curl to the tongue), and Mandarin x is not palatal. kwami (talk) 08:24, 16 July 2009 (UTC)

juxtaposition, ligatures or tie bars for palato-alveolar affricates?[edit]

The palato-alveolar affricates are treated incoherently in the first table. There are images, and there are characters illustrating the shape of the phonetic symbols. In the image section, tʃ is shown as juxtaposed t and ʃ, bu dʒ is shown as a ligature ʤ. In the character section, both are written juxtaposed, i.e. tʃ and dʒ. This should be treated in a coherent fashion, either all juxtaposition, or all ligature. In case of juxtaposition, I think we should add a tie bar ͡ to make clear that we are talking about one segment, not two. Jasy jatere (talk) 13:50, 23 April 2008 (UTC)


Some of this article, particularly the first diagram of sounds refers specifically to 1 sort of post-alveolar. As discussed above, there are three sorts. This should be left for generalities and discussing the differences and there should searate that shows where palato-alveolar consonants are used. Munci (talk) 15:37, 14 July 2010 (UTC)

I see no particular reason to split, but I won't oppose. — kwami (talk) 00:11, 27 September 2010 (UTC)
I think it should be split into at least five articles, according to the list of "places of articulation" (which would be better described as a list of "articulatory gestures"). This would allow a clean, uncluttered description of each gesture in its own article, with examples from various language. These new articles should have unambiguous names, such as Flat laminal postalveolar consonant, Subapical postalveolar consonant, etc. Two of these have already been written, but need to be renamed.
The present article, Postalveolar consonant, should explain the different ways that different scholars and textbooks have used words such as alveolopalatal, palato-alveolar, retroflex, and so on, linking repeatedly to the articles I mention above. The confusion that the words dental and palatal are sometimes used to describe postalveolar consonants needs to be detailed (and the phonology sections of the individual language articles may need to be clarified). The article Postalveolar consonant would become a sort of disambiguation page with extended explanations and comparisons, including the constrasting series of fricatives in such well-known languages as Polish and Mandarin. Wikipedia ought to note the fact that in linguistics (as in many other disciplines) the same word is used by different people to describe different, sometimes very similar, things; and the same thing is described by different terms by different authors. In such cases, Wikipedia would do itself a service by adopting precise, unambiguous terminology, even if it is not the most common terminology used by professionals, when professionals in different subfields use varied and conflicting practices.
Judging from the infobox, I thought that this article would be a summary or intro to the Alveolopalatal and Retroflex consonants, and perhaps some others. It is not, and I was disappointed. — Solo Owl (talk) 18:30, 13 January 2011 (UTC)

1.4 Examples[edit]

[s̠ z̠] laminal flat postalveolar (laminal retroflex) Polish sz, rz, cz, dż

[ṣ ẓ] apical postalveolar (apical retroflex) Mandarin sh, zh, ch

[ɕ ʑ] laminal palatalized postalveolar (alveolo-palatal) Mandarin q, j, x, Polish ć, ś, ź, dź

That doesn't make sense. Polish cz, dż, ć, dź and Chinese zh, ch, q, j are affricates. Mandarin doesn't have ẓ nor ʑ.-- (talk) 21:39, 2 January 2014 (UTC)

I agree: as far as I know, Mandarin does not have any voiced sibilants and zh, ch, q, j are all affricates.--Farru ES (talk) 14:58, 5 December 2014 (UTC)
The poster is but right about the nature of these types of sibilants, NOR polish or chinese have "retroflex" sounds, since this term is strictly refering to a <subapical> tongue contact, therefore the "backbinding" of the "retroflex" tongue, like in Indian or Dravidian languages ... Chinese and Polish are exactly those two languages which are always stated as examples for "flat" sibilants (so laminal contact for Chinese too), Russian does have apical contact so a mildest degree of retroflexness even if literature tends to use the Esh for transciption for simplicity as if it would be a domed sibilant >_>
In short, please change the examples in the table for the pure retroflex phone, and maybe add examples for s̠ z̠ ṣ ẓ -- Hyperbaton (talk) 09:24, 24 July 2021 (UTC)

Notation doubts[edit]

Suppose /s/ is a laminal alveolar. According to Place of articulation, the retracted consonant /s̠/ should be palato-alveolar and thus I reckon this symbol would be equivalent to /ʃ/. However, in this article /s̠/ and /ʃ/ are referred to as two different sounds. Is it a notation issue, or have I done anything wrong? I reckon the only difference between Polish sz and English sh is the tongue shape.--Farru ES (talk) 14:59, 5 December 2014 (UTC)

No, you haven't done anything wrong per se. However, the article has to distinguish laminal flat and laminal domed articulations. Moreover, the unmodified [ʃ] here is used to indicate a domed post-alveolar that may be either apical or laminal. --JorisvS (talk) 16:40, 5 December 2014 (UTC)


The table of examples uses the underdot for examples from Ubykh and Toda. This apparently marks apical retroflex consonants. The diacritic isn't listed in the International Phonetic Alphabet article, however; is this deprecated usage from an older form of the IPA, or from another transcriptional system? — Eru·tuon 07:05, 17 February 2015 (UTC)

Rhotic consonants[edit]

This sentence here: The normal rhotic consonant (r-sound) in American English is a retroflex approximant [ɻ] (the equivalent in British English is an alveolar approximant [ɹ]) appears to contradict the articles for the sounds described - It states that /ɹ/ is used in most AmE dialects, with /ɻ/ used in fewer. I'm asking for clarity on the articles - they appear to contradict each other, so something needs to be changed, I'm just not sure what. Deuteranopia (talk) 21:22, 29 November 2015 (UTC)

Name of "ʃ"[edit]

Can someone add to the article the name of this symbol: ʃ? And maybe the other symbols for postalveolar consonants, too. Thank you! DBlomgren (talk) 03:28, 13 June 2016 (UTC)

The symbol ʃ is called esh. It's capital form resembles Greek Sigma. However, if you're talking about the sound itself, and not its representation in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA), I'd advise you to look at ʃ. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 2600:6c44:237f:accb:44d1:46d3:94b9:5f7f (talk) 22:37, 30 November 2020 (UTC)