Denti-alveolar consonant

Tongue shape

In linguistics, a denti-alveolar consonant (or dento-alveolar) is a consonant that is articulated with a flat tongue against the alveolar ridge and upper teeth, such as /t/ and /d/ in languages such as Spanish and French. That is, a denti-alveolar consonant is one that is alveolar and laminal.

Although denti-alveolar consonants are often labeled as "dental", because only the forward contact with the teeth is visible, it is the rear-most point of contact of the tongue that is most relevant, for this is what defines the maximum acoustic space of resonance and will give a consonant its characteristic sound.[1]

In the case of French, the rear-most contact is alveolar or sometimes slightly pre-alveolar. Spanish /t/ and /d/ are laminal denti-alveolar,[2] whereas /l/ and /n/ are alveolar (though they assimilate to a following /t/ or /d/). Similarly, Italian /t/, /d/, /t͡s/, /d͡z/ are denti-alveolar, whereas /l/ and /n/ are alveolar.[3]

The dental clicks are also laminal denti-alveolar.


  1. Ladefoged, Peter; Maddieson, Ian (1996). The Sounds of the World's Languages. Oxford: Blackwell. ISBN 0-631-19814-8.
  2. Martínez-Celdrán et al. (2003:257)
  3. Rogers & d'Arcangeli (2004:117)


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