Dental consonant

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In linguistics, a dental consonant or dental is a consonant that is articulated with the tongue against the upper teeth, such as /t/, /d/, /n/, and /l/ in some languages. Dentals are primarily distinguished from sounds in which contact is made with the tongue and the gum ridge, as in English (see Alveolar consonant), due to the acoustic similarity of the sounds and the fact that in the Roman alphabet they are generally written using the same symbols (t, d, n, and so on).


Dentals cross-linguistically

For many languages, such as Albanian or Russian, velarization is generally associated with more dental articulations of coronal consonants so that velarized consonants (such as Albanian /ɫ/) tend to be dental or denti-alveolar while non-velarized consonants tend to be retracted to an alveolar position.[1]

Sanskrit, Hindi and all other Indic languages have an entire set of dental plosives which occur phonemically as voiced and voiceless, and with or without aspiration. The nasal stop /n/ also exists in these languages, but is quite alveolar and apical in articulation.[citation needed] To the Indian speaker, the alveolar /t/ and /d/ of English sound more like the corresponding retroflex consonants of his own language than like the dentals.[citation needed]

Spanish /t/ and /d/ are laminal 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/, /t͡s/, /d͡z/ are denti-alveolar ([t̪], [d̪], [t̪͡s̪], and [d̪͡z̪] respectively) and /l/ and /n/ become denti-alveolar before a following dental consonant.[3]

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