Sibilant - Contested Definitions

Contested Definitions

Authors including Chomsky and Halle group and as sibilants. However, they do not have the grooved articulation and high frequencies of other sibilants, and most phoneticians continue to group them together with bilabial, and (inter)dental, as non-sibilant anterior fricatives. For a grouping of sibilants and, the term strident is more common. Some researchers judge to be non-strident in English, based on measurements of its comparative amplitude, but to be strident in other languages (for example, in the African language Ewe, where it contrasts with non-strident ).

The nature of sibilants as so-called 'obstacle fricatives' is complicated – there is a continuum of possibilities relating to the angle at which the jet of air may strike an obstacle. The grooving often considered necessary for classification as a sibilant has been observed in ultrasound studies of the tongue for the supposedly non-sibilant voiceless alveolar fricative of English.

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