Voiceless alveolo-palatal fricative

The voiceless alveolo-palatal sibilant fricative is a type of consonantal sound, used in some oral languages. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is ⟨ɕ⟩ ("c", plus the curl also found in its voiced counterpart ⟨ʑ⟩). It is the sibilant equivalent of the voiceless palatal fricative, and as such it can be transcribed in IPA with ⟨ç˖⟩.

Voiceless alveolo-palatal fricative
IPA Number182
Entity (decimal)ɕ
Unicode (hex)U+0255
Braille⠦ (braille pattern dots-236)⠉ (braille pattern dots-14)
Audio sample

In British Received Pronunciation, /j/ after syllable-initial /p, t, k/ (as in Tuesday) is realized as a devoiced palatal fricative. The amount of devoicing is variable, but the fully voiceless variant tends to be alveolo-palatal [ɕ] in the /tj/ sequence: About this sound[ˈt̺ʲɕuːzdeɪ]. It is a fricative, rather than a fricative element of an affricate because the preceding plosive remains alveolar, rather than becoming alveolo-palatal, as in Dutch.[1]

The corresponding affricate can be written with ⟨t̠ʲ͡ɕ⟩ or ⟨c̟͡ɕ⟩ in narrow IPA, though ⟨⟩ is normally used in both cases. In the case of English, the sequence can be specified as ⟨t̺ɕ⟩ as /t/ is normally apical (although somewhat palatalized in that sequence), whereas alveolo-palatal consonants are laminal by definition.[2][3]

An increasing number of British speakers merge this sequence with the voiceless palato-alveolar affricate /tʃ/: [ˈtʃuːzdeɪ] (see yod-coalescence), mirroring Cockney, Australian English and New Zealand English. On the other hand, there is an opposite tendency in Canadian accents that have preserved /tj/, where the sequence tends to merge with the plain /t/ instead: About this sound[ˈt̺ʰuːzdeɪ] (see yod-dropping), mirroring General American which does not allow /j/ to follow alveolar consonants in stressed syllables.[4][5][6]


alveolo-palatal sibilant fricatives [ɕ, ʑ]

Features of the voiceless alveolo-palatal fricative:


Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Adyghe щы  [ɕə] 'three'
Assamese ব্ৰিটি [bɹitiɕ] 'British'
Catalan Eastern[7] caixa [ˈkäɕə] 'box' See Catalan phonology
Majorcan[7] [ˈkaɕə]
Chinese Some Hokkien dialects sim [ɕím] 'heart' Allophone of /s/ before /i/.
Mandarin 西安 / Xī'ān  [ɕí.án] 'Xi'an' Contrasts with /ʂ/ and /s/. See Mandarin phonology
Chuvash çиçĕм [ˈɕiɕ̬əm] 'lightning' Contrasts with /ʂ/ and /s/.
Danish sjæl [ˈɕeːˀl] 'soul' See Danish phonology
Dutch Some speakers sjabloon [ɕäˈbloːn] 'template' May be [ʃ] or [sʲ] instead. See Dutch phonology
English Cardiff English[8] human [ˈɕumːən] 'human' Phonetic realization of /hj/. More front and more strongly fricated than RP [ç]. Broad varieties drop the /h/: [ˈjumːən].[8] See English phonology
Conservative Received Pronunciation[1] tuesday [ˈt̺ʲɕuːzdeɪ] 'tuesday' Allophone of /j/ after syllable-initial /t/ (which is alveolar in this sequence), may be only partially devoiced. /tj/ is often realized as an affricate [] in British English. Mute in General American:  [ˈt̺ʰuːzdeɪ].[4][5][6] Typically transcribed with ⟨j⟩ in broad IPA. See English phonology, yod-coalescence and yod-dropping
Some Canadian English[1][6]
Ghanaian[9] ship [ɕip] 'ship' Educated speakers may use [ʃ], to which this phone corresponds in other dialects.[9]
Guarani Paraguayan che [ɕɛ] 'I'
Japanese[10] / shio [ɕi.o] 'salt' See Japanese phonology
Kabardian щэ  [ɕa] 'hundred'
Korean / si [ɕi] 'poem' See Korean phonology
Lower Sorbian[11] pśijaśel [ˈpɕijäɕɛl] 'friend'
Luxembourgish[12] liicht [liːɕt] 'light' Allophone of /χ/ after phonologically front vowels; some speakers merge it with [ʃ].[12] See Luxembourgish phonology
Norwegian Urban East[13] kjekk [ɕe̞kː] 'handsome' Typically transcribed in IPA with ⟨ç⟩; less often realized as palatal [ç]. Younger speakers in Bergen, Stavanger and Oslo merge it with /ʂ/.[13] See Norwegian phonology
Pashto Wazirwola dialect لښکي [ˈləɕki] 'little, slight'
Polish[14] śruba  [ˈɕrubä] 'screw' Contrasts with /ʂ/ and /s/. See Polish phonology
Portuguese[15][16][17] mexendo [meˈɕẽd̪u] 'moving' Also described as palato-alveolar [ʃ].[18][19] See Portuguese phonology
Romanian Transylvanian dialects[20] ce [ɕɛ] 'what' Realized as [] in standard Romanian. See Romanian phonology
Russian счастье  [ˈɕːæsʲtʲjə] 'happiness' Also represented by ⟨щ⟩. Contrasts with /ʂ/, /s/, and /sʲ/. See Russian phonology
Sema[21] ashi [à̠ɕì] 'meat' Possible allophone of /ʃ/ before /i, e/.[21]
Serbo-Croatian Croatian[22] miš će [mîɕ t͡ɕe̞] 'the mouse will' Allophone of /ʃ/ before /t͡ɕ, d͡ʑ/.[22] See Serbo-Croatian phonology
Some speakers of Montenegrin с́утра / śutra [ɕût̪ra̠] 'tomorrow' Phonemically /sj/ or, in some cases, /s/.
Swedish Finland sjok [ɕuːk] 'chunk' Allophone of /ɧ/.
Sweden kjol  [ɕuːl] 'skirt' See Swedish phonology
Tibetan Lhasa dialect བཞི་ [ɕi˨˧] 'four' Contrasts with /ʂ/.
Tatar өчпочмак [ˌøɕpoɕˈmɑq] 'triangle'
Uzbek[23] [example needed]
Xumi Lower[24] [RPd͡ʑi ɕɐ][clarification needed] 'one hundred'
Upper[25] [RPd͡ʑi ɕɜ][clarification needed]
Yámana Šúša [ɕúɕa] 'penguin'
Yi /xi [ɕi˧] 'thread'
Zhuang cib [ɕǐp] 'ten'

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c Collins & Mees (2003:172–173), Gimson (2014:229–231). The first source specifies the place of articulation of /j/ after /t/ as more front than the main allophone of /j/.
  2. ^ Gimson (2014), p. 177.
  3. ^ Esling (2010), p. 693.
  4. ^ a b Collins & Mees (2003), pp. 173, 306.
  5. ^ a b Gimson (2014), pp. 230–231.
  6. ^ a b c Changes in Progress in Canadian English: Yod-dropping, Excerpts from J.K. Chambers, "Social embedding of changes in progress." Journal of English Linguistics 26 (1998), accessed May 11, 2020.
  7. ^ a b Recasens & Espinosa (2007:145, 167)
  8. ^ a b Collins & Mees (1990), p. 90.
  9. ^ a b Huber (2004:859)
  10. ^ Okada (1999:117)
  11. ^ Zygis (2003), pp. 180–181.
  12. ^ a b Gilles & Trouvain (2013), pp. 67–68.
  13. ^ a b Kristoffersen (2000), p. 23.
  14. ^ Jassem (2003:103)
  15. ^ Mateus & d'Andrade (2000)
  16. ^ Silva (2003:32)
  17. ^ Guimarães (2004)
  18. ^ Cruz-Ferreira (1995:91)
  19. ^ Medina (2010)
  20. ^ Pop (1938), p. 29.
  21. ^ a b Teo (2012:368)
  22. ^ a b Landau et al. (1999:68)
  23. ^ Sjoberg (1963:11)
  24. ^ Chirkova & Chen (2013), p. 365.
  25. ^ Chirkova, Chen & Kocjančič Antolík (2013), p. 382.


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External linksEdit