Voiced Dental Fricative

Voiced Dental Fricative

The voiced dental non-sibilant fricative is a type of consonantal sound, used in some spoken languages. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is eth, or . This was taken from the Old English letter eth, which could stand for either a voiced or unvoiced interdental fricative. This symbol is also sometimes used to represent the dental approximant, a similar sound not known to contrast with a dental fricative in any language, though that is more clearly written with the lowering diacritic, ⟨ð̞⟩. The dental fricatives are often called "interdental" because they are often produced with the tongue between the upper and lower teeth, and not just against the back of the upper teeth, as they are with other dental consonants. It is familiar to English speakers as the th sound in father.

This sound, and its unvoiced counterpart, are rare phonemes. The great majority of European and Asian languages, such as German, French, Persian, Japanese, and Chinese, lack this sound. Native speakers of those languages in which the sound is not present often have difficulty enunciating or distinguishing it, and replace it with a voiced alveolar sibilant, a voiced dental stop, or a voiced labiodental fricative (known respectively as th-alveolarization, th-stopping, and th-fronting). As for Europe, there seems to be a great arc where this sound (and or the unvoiced variant) is present. Most of mainland Europe lacks the sound; however, some "periphery" languages as Gascon, Welsh, English, Danish, Icelandic, Elfdalian, Northern Sami, Mari, Greek, Albanian, Sardinian, some dialects of Basque, and most speakers of the Iberian Romance languages have this sound in their consonant inventories, as phonemes or allophones.

Within Turkic languages, Bashkir and Turkmen have both voiced and voiceless dental fricatives among their consonants. Among Semitic languages, they are used in Standard Arabic.

Read more about Voiced Dental Fricative:  Features, Occurrence, Voiced Alveolar Non-sibilant Fricative

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