A dental consonant is a consonant articulated with the tongue against the upper teeth, such as /θ/, /ð/. In some languages, dentals are distinguished from other groups, such as alveolar consonants, in which the tongue contacts the gum ridge. Dental consonants share acoustic similarity and in Latin script are generally written with consistent symbols (e.g. t, d, n).
In the International Phonetic Alphabet, the diacritic for dental consonant is U+032A ◌̪ COMBINING BRIDGE BELOW. When there is no room under the letter, it may be placed above, using the character U+0346 ◌͆ COMBINING BRIDGE ABOVE, such as in /p͆/.
For many languages, such as Albanian, Irish and Russian, velarization is generally associated with more dental articulations of coronal consonants. Thus, velarized consonants, such as Albanian /ɫ/, tend to be dental or denti-alveolar, and non-velarized consonants tend to be retracted to an alveolar position.
Sanskrit, Hindustani and all other Indo-Aryan languages have an entire set of dental stops that occur phonemically as voiced and voiceless and with or without aspiration. The nasal /n/ also exists but is quite alveolar and apical in articulation. To native speakers, the English alveolar /t/ and /d/ sound more like the corresponding retroflex consonants of their languages than like dentals.
Spanish /t/ and /d/ are denti-alveolar, while /l/ and /n/ are prototypically alveolar but assimilate to the place of articulation of a following consonant. Likewise, Italian /t/, /d/, /t͡s/, /d͡z/ are denti-alveolar ([t̪], [d̪], [t̪͡s̪], and [d̪͡z̪] respectively) and /l/ and /n/ become denti-alveolar before a following dental consonant.
Although denti-alveolar consonants are often described as dental, it is the point of contact farthest to the back that is most relevant, defines the maximum acoustic space of resonance and gives a characteristic sound to a consonant. In French, the contact that is farthest back is alveolar or sometimes slightly pre-alveolar.
Dental/denti-alveolar consonants as transcribed by the International Phonetic Alphabet include:
|n̪||dental nasal||Russian||банк / bank||[ban̪k]||'bank'|
|t̪||voiceless dental plosive||Finnish||tutti||[t̪ut̪ːi]||'pacifier'|
|d̪||voiced dental plosive||Arabic||دين / din||[d̪iːn]||'religion'|
|s̪||voiceless dental sibilant fricative||Polish||kosa||[kɔs̪a]||'scythe'|
|z̪||voiced dental sibilant fricative||Polish||koza||[kɔz̪a]||'goat'|
|θ||voiceless dental nonsibilant fricative
(also often called "interdental")
|ð||voiced dental nonsibilant fricative
(also often called "interdental")
|l̪||dental lateral approximant||Spanish||alto||[al̪t̪o]||'tall'|
|ɗ̪||voiced dental implosive||[example needed]|
|dental clicks (many different consonants)||Xhosa||ukúcola||[ukʼúkǀola]||'to grind fine'|
- Ladefoged, Peter; Maddieson, Ian (1996). The Sounds of the World's Languages. Oxford: Blackwell. ISBN 978-0-631-19815-4.
- Martínez-Celdrán, Eugenio; Fernández-Planas, Ana Ma.; Carrera-Sabaté, Josefina (2003), "Castilian Spanish", Journal of the International Phonetic Association, 33 (2): 255–259, doi:10.1017/S0025100303001373
- Recasens, Daniel; Espinosa, Aina (2005), "Articulatory, positional and coarticulatory characteristics for clear /l/ and dark /l/: evidence from two Catalan dialects", Journal of the International Phonetic Association, 35 (1): 1–25, doi:10.1017/S0025100305001878, S2CID 14140079
- Rogers, Derek; d'Arcangeli, Luciana (2004), "Italian", Journal of the International Phonetic Association, 34 (1): 117–121, doi:10.1017/S0025100304001628
- Real Academia Española; Association of Spanish Language Academies (2011), Nueva Gramática de la lengua española (English: New Grammar of the Spanish Language), vol. 3 (Fonética y fonología), Espasa, ISBN 978-84-670-3321-2