Dorsal Consonant
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Dorsal Consonant

Dorsal consonants are consonants articulated with the back of the tongue (the dorsum). They include the palatal, velar and, in some cases, alveolo-palatal and uvular consonants. They contrast with coronal consonants, articulated with the flexible front of the tongue, and laryngeal consonants, articulated in the pharyngeal cavity.


The dorsum of the tongue can contact a broad region of the roof of the mouth, from the hard palate (palatal consonants), the flexible velum behind that (velar consonants), to the uvula at the back of the mouth cavity (uvular consonants). These distinctions are not clear cut, and sometimes finer gradations such as pre-palatal, pre-velar, and post-velar will be noted.

Because the tip of the tongue can curl back to also contact the hard palate for retroflex consonants (subapical-palatal), consonants produced by contact between the dorsum and the palate are sometimes called dorso-palatal.


Familiar dorsal consonants
IPA symbol Name of the consonant Language Example IPA
? Voiced palatal nasal Albanian një []
? Voiced palatal fricative Modern Greek ? [?a]
ç Voiceless palatal fricative German Reich [?aç]
j Voiced palatal approximant English yellow /'j?lo?/
? Voiced velar nasal sing /'s/
? Voiced velar plosive garden /'g?rd?n/
k Voiceless velar plosive cake /'ke?k/
? Voiced velar fricative Modern Greek góma (?) /'?oma/
x Voiceless velar fricative Malay akhir /a:'xir/
? Voiceless labio velar approximant English whine /'?a?n/
w Voiced labio velar approximant English water /'w?:t?r/
q Voiceless uvular plosive Arabic Qurn (?) /qur?a:n/
? Voiced uvular plosive Persian Qom /?om/
? Voiced uvular fricative
or approximant
French Paris /pa?i/
? Voiceless uvular fricative German Bach [ba?]

See also


  • Ladefoged, Peter; Maddieson, Ian (1996). The Sounds of the World's Languages. Oxford: Blackwell. ISBN 978-0-631-19815-4.

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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