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In
phonetics Phonetics is a branch of that studies how humans produce and perceive sounds, or in the case of s, the equivalent aspects of sign. Phoneticians—linguists who specialize in phonetics—study the physical properties of speech. The field of phon ...

phonetics
, sibilants are
fricative Fricatives are consonant In articulatory phonetics, a consonant is a speech sound that is articulated with complete or partial closure of the vocal tract. Examples are , pronounced with the lips; , pronounced with the front of the tongue; , pron ...
consonants of higher
amplitude The amplitude of a ic is a measure of its change in a single (such as or ). There are various definitions of amplitude (see below), which are all s of the magnitude of the differences between the variable's . In older texts, the of a period f ...

amplitude
and
pitch Pitch may refer to: Acoustic frequency * Pitch (music), the perceived frequency of sound including "definite pitch" and "indefinite pitch" ** Absolute pitch or "perfect pitch" ** Pitch class, a set of all pitches that are a whole number of octaves ...
, made by
directing
directing
a stream of air with the tongue towards the
teeth A tooth (plural teeth) is a hard, calcified Calcification is the accumulation of calcium salts in a Tissue (biology), body tissue. It normally occurs in the formation of bone, but calcium can be deposited abnormally in soft tissue,Miller, J. ...

teeth
. Examples of sibilants are the consonants at the beginning of the
English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which has eventually become the World language, leading lan ...

English
words ''sip'', ''zip'', ''ship'', and ''genre''. The symbols in the
International Phonetic Alphabet The International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) is an alphabet An alphabet is a standardized set of basic written symbols A symbol is a mark, sign, or word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest seq ...
used to denote the sibilant sounds in these words are, respectively, . Sibilants have a characteristically intense sound, which accounts for their
paralinguistic Paralanguage, also known as vocalics, is a component of meta-communication that may modify meaning, give nuanced meaning, or convey emotion, by using techniques such as Prosody (linguistics), prosody, Pitch (music), pitch, loudness, volume, Intonat ...
use in getting one's attention (e.g. calling someone using "psst!" or quieting someone using "shhhh!"). In the hissing sibilants and , the back of the tongue forms a narrow channel (is '' grooved'') to focus the stream of air more intensely, resulting in a high pitch. With the hushing sibilants (occasionally termed ''shibilants''), such as English , , , and , the tongue is flatter, and the resulting pitch lower. A broader category is stridents, which include more fricatives than sibilants such as
uvulars Uvulars are consonant In articulatory phonetics, a consonant is a speech sound that is articulated with complete or partial closure of the vocal tract. Examples are , pronounced with the lips; , pronounced with the front of the tongue; , pronounc ...
. Because all sibilants are also stridents, the terms are sometimes used interchangeably. However, the terms do not mean the same thing. The English stridents are . Sibilants are a higher pitched subset of the stridents. The English sibilants are . On the other hand, and are stridents, but not sibilants, because they are lower in pitch. "Stridency" refers to the
perceptual Perception (from the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the powe ...
intensity of the sound of a sibilant consonant, or obstacle fricatives or affricates, which refers to the critical role of the teeth in producing the sound as an obstacle to the airstream. Non-sibilant fricatives and affricates produce their characteristic sound directly with the tongue or lips etc. and the place of contact in the mouth, without secondary involvement of the teeth. The characteristic intensity of sibilants means that small variations in tongue shape and position are perceivable, with the result that there are many sibilant types that contrast in various languages.


Acoustics

Sibilants are louder than their non-sibilant counterparts, and most of their acoustic energy occurs at higher frequencies than non-sibilant fricatives—usually around 8,000 Hz.


Sibilant types

All sibilants are
coronal consonant Coronal may refer to: * a nuptial crown '' File:서봉총 금관 금제드리개.jpg, The Seobongchong Golden Crown of Ancient Silla, which is 339th National Treasure of South Korea. It is basically following the standard type of Silla's Cro ...
s (made with the tip or front part of the tongue). However, there is a great deal of variety among sibilants as to tongue shape, point of contact on the tongue, and point of contact on the upper side of the mouth. The following variables affect sibilant sound quality, and, along with their possible values, are ordered from sharpest (highest-pitched) to dullest (lowest-pitched): * Tongue shape: ,
alveolo-palatal In phonetics Phonetics is a branch of linguistics that studies how humans produce and perceive sounds, or in the case of sign languages, the equivalent aspects of sign. Phoneticians—linguists who specialize in phonetics—study the physical ...
,
palato-alveolar In phonetics Phonetics is a branch of linguistics that studies how humans produce and perceive sounds, or in the case of sign languages, the equivalent aspects of sign. Phoneticians—linguists who specialize in phonetics—study the physical ...
,
retroflex A retroflex, apico-domal, or cacuminal () consonant is a coronal consonant where the tongue has a flat, concave, or even curled shape, and is articulated between the alveolar ridge and the hard palate. They are sometimes referred to as cerebral c ...

retroflex
*
Place of articulation In articulatory phonetics The field of articulatory phonetics is a subfield of phonetics Phonetics is a branch of linguistics that studies how humans produce and perceive sounds, or in the case of sign languages, the equivalent aspects of sig ...
(point of contact on the upper side of the mouth): or
denti-alveolar In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of linguistic analysis include ph ...
, ,
postalveolar Postalveolar or post-alveolar consonants are consonant In articulatory phonetics, a consonant is a speech sound that is articulated with complete or partial closure of the vocal tract. Examples are , pronounced with the lips; , pronounced with th ...
, * Point of contact on the tongue: "closed" (
see below See or SEE may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media * Music: ** See (album), ''See'' (album), studio album by rock band The Rascals *** "See", song by The Rascals, on the album ''See'' ** See (Tycho song), "See" (Tycho song), song by Tycho * T ...
), non-"closed", , Generally, the values of the different variables co-occur so as to produce an overall sharper or duller sound. For example, a laminal denti-alveolar grooved sibilant occurs in
Polish Polish may refer to: * Anything from or related to Poland Poland ( pl, Polska ), officially the Republic of Poland ( pl, Rzeczpospolita Polska, links=no ), is a country located in Central Europe. It is divided into 16 Voivodeships of Pol ...
, and a subapical palatal retroflex sibilant occurs in Toda.


Tongue shape

The main distinction is the shape of the tongue. Most sibilants have a
groove Groove or Grooves may refer to: Music * Groove (music) In music, groove is the sense of an effect ("feel") of changing pattern in a propulsive rhythm Rhythm (from Greek , ''rhythmos'', "any regular recurring motion, symmetry"—) general ...
running down the centerline of the tongue that helps focus the airstream, but it's not known how widespread this is. In addition, the following tongue shapes are described, from sharpest and highest-pitched to dullest and lowest-pitched: * Hollow (e.g. ): This hollow accepts a large volume of air that is forced through a typically narrow aperture that directs a high-velocity jet of air against the teeth, which results in a high-pitched, piercing "hissing" sound. Because of the prominence of these sounds, they are the most common and most stable of sibilants cross-linguistically. They occur in
English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which has eventually become the World language, leading lan ...

English
, where they are denoted with a letter ''s'' or ''z'', as in ''soon'' or ''zone''. *
Alveolo-palatal In phonetics Phonetics is a branch of linguistics that studies how humans produce and perceive sounds, or in the case of sign languages, the equivalent aspects of sign. Phoneticians—linguists who specialize in phonetics—study the physical ...
(e.g. ): with a convex, V-shaped tongue, and highly palatalized (middle of the tongue strongly raised or bowed). *
Palato-alveolar In phonetics Phonetics is a branch of linguistics that studies how humans produce and perceive sounds, or in the case of sign languages, the equivalent aspects of sign. Phoneticians—linguists who specialize in phonetics—study the physical ...
(e.g. ): with a "domed" tongue (convex and moderately palatalized). These sounds occur in
English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which has eventually become the World language, leading lan ...

English
, where they are denoted with letter combinations such as ''sh'', ''ch'', ''g'', ''j'' or ''si'', as in ''shin'', ''chin'', ''gin'' and ''vision''. *
Retroflex A retroflex, apico-domal, or cacuminal () consonant is a coronal consonant where the tongue has a flat, concave, or even curled shape, and is articulated between the alveolar ridge and the hard palate. They are sometimes referred to as cerebral c ...

Retroflex
(e.g. ): with a flat or concave tongue, and no palatalization. There is a variety of these sounds, some of which also go by other names (e.g. "flat postalveolar" or "
apico-alveolar An apical consonant is a phone A telephone is a telecommunication Telecommunication is the transmission of information Information can be thought of as the resolution of uncertainty; it answers the question of "What an entity is" ...
"). The or "true" retroflex sounds are the very dullest and lowest-pitched of all the sibilants. The latter three post-alveolar types of sounds are often known as "hushing" sounds because of their quality, as opposed to the "hissing" alveolar sounds. The alveolar sounds in fact occur in several varieties, in addition to the normal sound of English ''s'': * Palatalized: Sibilants can occur with or without raising the tongue body to the palate ( palatalization). Palatalized alveolars are transcribed e.g. and occur in
Russian Russian refers to anything related to Russia, including: *Russians (русские, ''russkiye''), an ethnic group of the East Slavic peoples, primarily living in Russia and neighboring countries *Rossiyane (россияне), Russian language term ...
; they sound similar to the cluster occurring in the middle of the English phrase ''miss you''. * Lisping: Alveolar sibilants made with the tip of the tongue () near the upper teeth have a softer sound reminiscent of (but still sharper-sounding than) the "lisping" sound of English ''think''. These sounds are relatively uncommon, but occur in some of the indigenous languages of
California California is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper i ...

California
as well as in the
Spanish Spanish may refer to: * Items from or related to Spain: **Spaniards, a nation and ethnic group indigenous to Spain **Spanish language **Spanish cuisine Other places * Spanish, Ontario, Canada * Spanish River (disambiguation), the name of several ...

Spanish
dialects of western and southern
Andalucía Andalusia (, ; es, Andalucía ) is the southernmost Autonomous communities of Spain, autonomous community in Peninsular Spain. It is the most populous and the second largest autonomous community in the country. The Andalusian autonomous commun ...

Andalucía
(southwest
Spain , image_flag = Bandera de España.svg , image_coat = Escudo de España (mazonado).svg , national_motto = , national_anthem = , image_map = , map_caption = , image_map2 ...

Spain
), mostly in the provinces of
Cádiz Cádiz (, also , ; see more below) is a city and port in southwestern Spain. It is the capital of the Province of Cádiz, one of eight that make up the autonomous community of Andalusia Andalusia (, ; es, Andalucía ) is the southernmost ...

Cádiz
,
Málaga Málaga (, ) is a municipality of Spain, capital of the Province of Málaga , population_note = , blank_name_sec2 = Parliament , blank_info_sec2 = Cortes Generales The Cortes Generales (; en, Spanish Parliament, lit ...

Málaga
,
Sevilla Seville (; es, Sevilla, Castilian Spanish , Andalusian Spanish (with yeísmo) ) is the capital and largest city of the Spain, Spanish autonomous communities of Spain, autonomous community of Andalusia and the province of Seville. It is situate ...

Sevilla
and
Huelva Huelva (, ) is a city in southwestern Spain, the capital of the province of Huelva Huelva () is a province A province is almost always an administrative division within a country or state. The term derives from the ancient Roman '' provinc ...

Huelva
. In these dialects, the lisping sibilant (sometimes indicated in Spanish
dialectologyDialectology (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approxima ...
as ) is the most common pronunciation of the letters ''s'' and ''z'', as well as ''c'' before ''i'' or ''e'', replacing the or that occur elsewhere in the country. Speaking non-technically, the retroflex consonant sounds somewhat like a mixture between the regular English of "ship" and a strong American "r"; while the alveolo-palatal consonant sounds somewhat like a mixture of English of "ship" and the in the middle of "miss you".


Place of articulation

Sibilants can be made at any articulation, i.e. the tongue can contact the upper side of the mouth anywhere from the upper teeth () to the
hard palate The hard palate is a thin horizontal bony plate made up of two bones of the facial skeleton The facial skeleton comprises the ''facial bones'' that may attach to build a portion of the skull The skull is a bone A bone is a Stiffness, ri ...
(), with the in-between articulations being
denti-alveolar In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of linguistic analysis include ph ...
, and
postalveolar Postalveolar or post-alveolar consonants are consonant In articulatory phonetics, a consonant is a speech sound that is articulated with complete or partial closure of the vocal tract. Examples are , pronounced with the lips; , pronounced with th ...
.


Point of contact on the tongue

The tongue can contact the upper side of the mouth with the very tip of the tongue (an ' articulation, e.g. ); with the surface just behind the tip, called the ''
blade A blade is the portion of a tool, weapon, or machine with an edge that is designed to wikt:puncture, puncture, wikt:chop, chop, Cutting, slice or scraper (archaeology), scrape surfaces or materials. Blades are typically made from materials that a ...

blade
'' of the tongue (a ' articulation, e.g. ); or with the underside of the tip (a ' articulation). Apical and subapical articulations are always ''tongue-up'', with the tip of the tongue above the teeth, while laminal articulations can be either tongue-up or ''tongue-down'', with the tip of the tongue behind the lower teeth. This distinction is particularly important for
retroflex A retroflex, apico-domal, or cacuminal () consonant is a coronal consonant where the tongue has a flat, concave, or even curled shape, and is articulated between the alveolar ridge and the hard palate. They are sometimes referred to as cerebral c ...

retroflex
sibilants, because all three varieties can occur, with noticeably different sound qualities. For more information on these variants and their relation to sibilants, see the article on
postalveolar consonant Postalveolar or post-alveolar consonants are consonant In articulatory phonetics The field of articulatory phonetics is a subfield of phonetics that studies articulation and ways that humans produce speech. Articulatory phoneticians explain ...

postalveolar consonant
s. For tongue-down laminal articulations, an additional distinction can be made depending on where exactly behind the lower teeth the tongue tip is placed. A little ways back from the lower teeth is a hollow area (or pit) in the lower surface of the mouth. When the tongue tip rests in this hollow area, there is an empty space below the tongue (a ''sublingual cavity''), which results in a relatively duller sound. When the tip of the tongue rests against the lower teeth, there is no sublingual cavity, resulting in a sharper sound. Usually, the position of the tip of the tongue correlates with the grooved vs. hushing tongue shape so as to maximize the differences. However, the palato-alveolar sibilants in the
Northwest Caucasian languages The Northwest Caucasian languages, also called West Caucasian, Abkhazo-Adyghean, Abkhazo-Circassian, Circassic, or sometimes ''Pontic languages'' (in contrast to ''Caspian languages'' for the ), are a spoken in the northwestern region,Hoiberg, ...

Northwest Caucasian languages
such as Ubykh are an exception. These sounds have the tongue tip resting directly against the lower teeth, which gives the sounds a quality that Catford describes as "hissing-hushing". Ladefoged and Maddieson term this a "''closed'' laminal postalveolar" articulation, and transcribe them (following Catford) as , although this is not an IPA notation. See the article on
postalveolar consonant Postalveolar or post-alveolar consonants are consonant In articulatory phonetics The field of articulatory phonetics is a subfield of phonetics that studies articulation and ways that humans produce speech. Articulatory phoneticians explain ...

postalveolar consonant
s for more information.


Symbols in the IPA

The following table shows the types of sibilant fricatives defined in the
International Phonetic Alphabet The International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) is an alphabet An alphabet is a standardized set of basic written symbols A symbol is a mark, sign, or word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest seq ...
: Diacritics can be used for finer detail. For example, apical and laminal alveolars can be specified as ''vs'' ; a
dental Dental may refer to: * Having to do with teeth * Dentistry, a medical profession dealing with teeth * Dental consonant, in linguistics * Dental Records, an independent UK record label * Dental_hygienist, Dental Hygienist, a person who cleans teeth ...

dental
(or more likely ''denti-alveolar'') sibilant as ; a palatalized alveolar as ; and a generic "retracted sibilant" as , a transcription frequently used for the sharper-quality types of retroflex consonants (e.g. the laminal "flat" type and the "
apico-alveolar An apical consonant is a phone A telephone is a telecommunication Telecommunication is the transmission of information Information can be thought of as the resolution of uncertainty; it answers the question of "What an entity is" ...
" type). There is no diacritic to denote the laminal "closed" articulation of palato-alveolars in the
Northwest Caucasian languages The Northwest Caucasian languages, also called West Caucasian, Abkhazo-Adyghean, Abkhazo-Circassian, Circassic, or sometimes ''Pontic languages'' (in contrast to ''Caspian languages'' for the ), are a spoken in the northwestern region,Hoiberg, ...

Northwest Caucasian languages
, but they are sometimes provisionally transcribed as .


Possible combinations

The attested possibilities, with exemplar languages, are as follows. Note that the IPA diacritics are simplified; some articulations would require two diacritics to be fully specified, but only one is used in order to keep the results legible without the need for
OpenType OpenType is a format for scalable computer font A computer font (or font) is implemented as a digital data file containing a set of graphically related glyphs, characters, or symbols such as dingbats. Although the term ''font'' first referr ...
IPA fonts. Also, Ladefoged has resurrected an obsolete IPA symbol, the under dot, to indicate ''apical postalveolar'' (normally included in the category of
retroflex consonant A retroflex, apico-domal, or cacuminal () consonant is a coronal consonant where the tongue has a flat, concave, or even curled shape, and is articulated between the alveolar ridge and the hard palate. They are sometimes referred to as cerebral ...
s), and that notation is used here. (Note that the notation is sometimes reversed; either may also be called 'retroflex' and written .) is an ad-hoc transcription. The old IPA letters are also available. These sounds are usually just transcribed . Apical postalveolar and subapical palatal sibilants do not contrast in any language, but if necessary, apical postalveolars can be transcribed with an apical diacritic, as or . Ladefoged resurrects the old retroflex sub-dot for apical retroflexes, Also seen in the literature on e.g. Hindi and Norwegian is – the domed articulation of precludes a subapical realization.


Whistled sibilants occur in speech pathology and may be caused by dental prostheses or orthodontics. However, they also occur phonemically in several southern Bantu languages, the best known being Shona. The whistled sibilants of Shona have been variously described—as
labialized Labialization is a secondary articulatory feature of sounds in some languages. Labialized sounds involve the lips while the remainder of the oral cavity In animal anatomy Anatomy (Greek ''anatomē'', 'dissection') is the branch of biolog ...
but not velarized, as retroflex, etc., but none of these features are required for the sounds. Using the
Extended IPA The extensions to the International Phonetic Alphabet, also extIPA symbols for disordered speech or simply extIPA , are a set of letters and diacritics devised by the International Clinical Phonetics and Linguistics Association to augment the In ...
, Shona ''sv'' and ''zv'' may be transcribed and . Other transcriptions seen include purely labialized and (Ladefoged and Maddieson 1996) and labially co-articulated and (or and ). In the otherwise IPA transcription of Shona in Doke (1967), the whistled sibilants are transcribed with the non-IPA letters and . Besides Shona, whistled sibilants have been reported as phonemes in Kalanga, Tsonga, Changana, Tshwa—all of which are Southern African languages—and Tabasaran. The articulation of whistled sibilants may differ between languages. In Shona, the lips are
compressed Compression may refer to: Physical science *Compression (physics), size reduction due to forces *Compression member, a structural element such as a column *Compressibility, susceptibility to compression *Gas compression *Compression ratio, of a co ...
throughout, and the sibilant may be followed by normal labialization upon release. (That is, there is a contrast among ''s, sw, ȿ, ȿw''.) In Tsonga, the whistling effect is weak; the lips are narrowed but also the tongue is
retroflex A retroflex, apico-domal, or cacuminal () consonant is a coronal consonant where the tongue has a flat, concave, or even curled shape, and is articulated between the alveolar ridge and the hard palate. They are sometimes referred to as cerebral c ...

retroflex
. Tswa may be similar. In Changana, the lips are rounded (protruded), but so in /s/ in the sequence /usu/, so there is evidently some distinct phonetic phenomenon occurring here that has yet to be formally identified and described.


Linguistic contrasts among sibilants

Not including differences in
manner of articulation Human vocal tract In articulatory phonetics The field of articulatory phonetics is a subfield of phonetics Phonetics is a branch of linguistics that studies how humans produce and perceive sounds, or in the case of sign languages, the equiva ...

manner of articulation
or
secondary articulation In phonetics, secondary articulation occurs when the articulation of a consonant is equivalent to the combined articulations of two or three simpler consonants, at least one of which is an approximant consonant, approximant. The secondary articulat ...
, some languages have as many as four different types of sibilants. For example, Northern Qiang and Southern Qiang have a four-way distinction among sibilant affricates , with one for each of the four tongue shapes. Toda also has a four-way sibilant distinction, with one alveolar, one palato-alveolar, and two retroflex (apical postalveolar and subapical palatal). The now-extinct
Ubykh language Ubykh, or Ubyx (also known as Ubijé in Turkey, or Pekhi), is an extinct Extinction is the termination of a kind of organism or of a group of kinds (taxon), usually a species. The moment of extinction is generally considered to be the death o ...
was particularly complex, with a total of 27 sibilant consonants. Not only all four tongue shapes were represented (with the palato-alveolar appearing in the laminal "closed" variation) but also both the palato-alveolars and alveolo-palatals could additionally appear
labialized Labialization is a secondary articulatory feature of sounds in some languages. Labialized sounds involve the lips while the remainder of the oral cavity In animal anatomy Anatomy (Greek ''anatomē'', 'dissection') is the branch of biolog ...
. Besides, there was a five-way manner distinction among voiceless and voiced fricatives, voiceless and voiced affricates, and affricates. (The three labialized palato-alveolar affricates were missing, which is why the total was 27, not 30.) The Bzyp dialect of the related
Abkhaz language Abkhaz (; ; sometimes spelled Abxaz; ), also known as Abkhazian, is a Northwest Caucasian language The Northwest Caucasian languages, also called West Caucasian, Abkhazo-Adyghean, Abkhazo-Circassian, Circassic, or sometimes ''Pontic languages'' ...

Abkhaz language
also has a similar inventory. Some languages have four types when palatalization is considered.
Polish Polish may refer to: * Anything from or related to Poland Poland ( pl, Polska ), officially the Republic of Poland ( pl, Rzeczpospolita Polska, links=no ), is a country located in Central Europe. It is divided into 16 Voivodeships of Pol ...
is one example, with both palatalized and non-palatalized laminal denti-alveolars, laminal postalveolar (or "flat retroflex"), and alveolo-palatal ().
Russian Russian refers to anything related to Russia, including: *Russians (русские, ''russkiye''), an ethnic group of the East Slavic peoples, primarily living in Russia and neighboring countries *Rossiyane (россияне), Russian language term ...
has the same surface contrasts, but the alveolo-palatals are arguably not phonemic. They occur only geminate, and the retroflex consonants never occur geminate, which suggests that both are allophones of the same phoneme. Somewhat more common are languages with three sibilant types, including one hissing and two hushing. As with Polish and Russian, the two hushing types are usually postalveolar and alveolo-palatal since these are the two most distinct from each other.
Mandarin Chinese Mandarin (; ) is a group of Sinitic (Chinese) languages natively spoken across most of northern and southwestern China China (), officially the People's Republic of China (PRC; ), is a country in . It is the world's , with a of more ...
is an example of such a language. However, other possibilities exist.
Serbo-Croatian Serbo-Croatian () – also called Serbo-Croat (), Serbo-Croat-Bosnian (SCB), Bosnian-Croatian-Serbian (BCS), and Bosnian-Croatian-Montenegrin-Serbian (BCMS) – is a South Slavic language The South Slavic languages are one of three branche ...
has alveolar, flat postalveolar and alveolo-palatal affricates whereas
Basque Basque may refer to: * Basques The Basques ( or ; eu, euskaldunak ; es, vascos ; french: basques ) are a Southern European ethnic group, characterised by the Basque language, a Basque culture, common culture and shared genetic ancestry to th ...
has palato-alveolar and laminal and apical alveolar (
apico-alveolar An apical consonant is a phone A telephone is a telecommunication Telecommunication is the transmission of information Information can be thought of as the resolution of uncertainty; it answers the question of "What an entity is" ...
) fricatives and affricates (late Medieval peninsular
Spanish Spanish may refer to: * Items from or related to Spain: **Spaniards, a nation and ethnic group indigenous to Spain **Spanish language **Spanish cuisine Other places * Spanish, Ontario, Canada * Spanish River (disambiguation), the name of several ...

Spanish
and
Portuguese Portuguese may refer to: * anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Portugal ** Portuguese cuisine, traditional foods ** Portuguese language, a Romance language *** Portuguese dialects, variants of the Portuguese language ** Portug ...

Portuguese
had the same distinctions among fricatives). Many languages, such as
English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which has eventually become the World language, leading lan ...

English
, have two sibilant types, one hissing and one hushing. A wide variety of languages across the world have this pattern. Perhaps most common is the pattern, as in English, with alveolar and palato-alveolar sibilants. Modern northern peninsular
Spanish Spanish may refer to: * Items from or related to Spain: **Spaniards, a nation and ethnic group indigenous to Spain **Spanish language **Spanish cuisine Other places * Spanish, Ontario, Canada * Spanish River (disambiguation), the name of several ...

Spanish
has a single
apico-alveolar An apical consonant is a phone A telephone is a telecommunication Telecommunication is the transmission of information Information can be thought of as the resolution of uncertainty; it answers the question of "What an entity is" ...
sibilant fricative , as well as a single palato-alveolar sibilant affricate . However, there are also languages with alveolar and apical retroflex sibilants (such as Standard
Vietnamese Vietnamese may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to Vietnam, a country in Southeast Asia ** A citizen of Vietnam. See Demographics of Vietnam. * Vietnamese people, or Kinh people, a Southeast Asian ethnic group native to Vietnam ** Oversea ...

Vietnamese
) and with alveolar and alveolo-palatal postalveolars (e.g. alveolar and laminal palatalized i.e. in
Catalan Catalan may refer to: Catalonia From, or related to Catalonia: * Catalan language, a Romance language * Catalans, an ethnic group formed by the people from, or with origins in, Catalonia * Països Catalans, territories where Catalan is spoken * C ...
and
Brazilian Portuguese Brazilian Portuguese (', or ', ) is the set of dialects of the Portuguese language native to Brazil and the most influential form of Portuguese worldwide. It is spoken by almost all of the 200 million inhabitants of Brazil and spoken widely acr ...
, the latter probably through Amerindian influence, and alveolar and dorsal i.e. proper in
Japanese Japanese may refer to: * Something from or related to Japan Japan ( ja, 日本, or , and formally ) is an island country An island country or an island nation is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or ...

Japanese
). Only a few languages with sibilants lack the hissing type. Middle Vietnamese is normally reconstructed with two sibilant fricatives, both hushing (one retroflex, one alveolo-palatal). Some languages have only a single hushing sibilant and no hissing sibilant. That occurs in southern Peninsular Spanish dialects of the " ceceo" type, which have replaced the former hissing fricative with , leaving only . Languages with no sibilants are fairly rare. Most have no fricatives at all or only the fricative . Examples include most
Australian languages The Australian Aboriginal languages consist of around 290–363 languages belonging to an estimated 28 language families A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Si ...

Australian languages
, and
Rotokas Rotokas is a North Bougainville language spoken by about 4,320 people on the island of Bougainville, an island located to the east of New Guinea New Guinea (; : ''Niu Gini''; id, Papua, historically ) is the , and with an area of , the ...
, and what is generally reconstructed for
Proto-Bantu Proto-Bantu is the reconstructed common ancestor of the Bantu languages, a subgroup of the Benue-Congo family. It is thought to have originally been spoken in West/Central Africa in the area of what is now Cameroon.Dimmendaal, Gerrit J. (2011). ' ...
. Languages with fricatives but no sibilants, however, do occur, such as Ukue in
Nigeria Nigeria (), officially the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is a country in West Africa West Africa or Western Africa is the westernmost region of . The defines Western Africa as the 17 countries of , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , and as we ...

Nigeria
, which has only the fricatives . Also, almost all Eastern
Polynesian languages The Polynesian languages form a genealogical group of languages, itself part of the Oceanic Oceanic may refer to: *Of or relating to the ocean *Of or relating to Oceania **Oceanic climate **Oceanic languages **Oceanic person or people, also cal ...

Polynesian languages
have no sibilants but do have the fricatives and/or : Māori,
Hawaiian Hawaiian may refer to: * Hawaii state residents, regardless of ancestry * Native Hawaiians, the current term for the indigenous people of the Hawaiian Islands or their descendants * Hawaiian language Historic uses * things and people of the Kingdo ...
, Tahitian,
Rapa Nui Easter Island ( rap, Rapa Nui; es, Isla de Pascua) is an island and special territory of Chile Chile (, ; ), officially the Republic of Chile (), is a country in western South America. It occupies a long, narrow strip of land between ...
, most Cook Islands Māori dialects,
Marquesan The Marquesas Islands (; french: Îles Marquises or ' or '; Marquesan language, Marquesan: ' (North Marquesan language, North Marquesan) and ' (South Marquesan language, South Marquesan), both meaning "the land of men") are a group of volcano, ...
, and Tuamotuan.
Tamil Tamil may refer to: * Tamils, an ethnic group native to India, Sri Lanka and some other parts of Asia **Sri Lankan Tamils, Tamil people native to Sri Lanka **Tamil Malaysians, Tamil people native to Malaysia * Tamil language, a Dravidian languages, ...

Tamil
only has the sibilant and fricative in loanwords, and they are frequently replaced by native sounds. The sibilants exist as allophones of and the fricative as an allophone of .


Contested definitions

Authors including
Chomsky
Chomsky
and
Halle Halle may refer to: Places Germany * Halle (Saale), also called Halle an der Saale, a city in Saxony-Anhalt ** Halle (region), a former administrative region in Saxony-Anhalt ** Bezirk Halle, a former administrative division of East Germany ** Hall ...

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 In phonetics, a bilabial consonant is a labial consonant place of articulation, articulated with both lips. Transcription The bilabial consonants identified by the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) are: Owere Igbo language, Igbo has a six-wa ...

bilabial
, and (inter)dental , as non-sibilant
anterior Standard anatomical terms of location deal unambiguously with the anatomy Anatomy (Greek ''anatomē'', 'dissection') is the branch of biology concerned with the study of the structure of organism In biology, an organism (from Ancient ...
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.Stone, M. & Lundberg, A. (1996)
Three-dimensional tongue surface shapes of English consonants and vowels
''Journal of the Acoustical Society of America'', vol. 99 (6), pp. 3728–3737


See also

*
De-essing De-essing (also desibilizing) is any technique intended to reduce or eliminate the excessive prominence of sibilant In phonetics Phonetics is a branch of that studies how humans produce and perceive sounds, or in the case of s, the equival ...
*
Plosive consonant In phonetics Phonetics is a branch of that studies how humans produce and perceive sounds, or in the case of s, the equivalent aspects of sign. Phoneticians—linguists who specialize in phonetics—study the physical properties of speech. ...
* Shibboleth * Sj-sound * Strident vowel * Voiceless alveolar retracted sibilant * Voiced apicoalveolar fricative


Notes


References

* * * * * * Shosted, Ryan K. (2006)
Just put your lips together and blow? The whistled fricatives of Southern Bantu
''


External links


Example of whistled sibilants in Shona
{{Articulation navbox Manner of articulation Sibilant consonants,