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Coronals are consonants articulated with the flexible front part of the tongue. Among places of articulation, only the coronal consonants can be divided into as many articulation types: apical (using the tip of the tongue), laminal (using the blade of the tongue), domed (with the tongue bunched up), or subapical (using the underside of the tongue) as well as different postalveolar articulations (some of which also involve the back of the tongue as an articulator): palato-alveolar, alveolo-palatal and retroflex. Only the front of the tongue (coronal) has such dexterity among the major places of articulation, allowing such variety of distinctions. Coronals have another dimension, grooved, to make sibilants in combination with the orientations above.

Places of articulation

Coronal places of articulation include the dental consonants at the upper teeth, the alveolar consonants at the upper gum (the alveolar ridge), the various postalveolar consonants (including domed palato-alveolar, laminal alveolo-palatal, and apical retroflex) just behind that, the subapical retroflex consonants curled back against the hard palate, and linguolabial consonants with the tongue against the upper lip. Alveolo-palatal and linguolabial consonants sometimes behave as dorsal and labial consonants, respectively, rather than as coronals.

Coronal sibilants
of articulation
ʂ retroflex
secondary palatalized coronal
ɕ alveolo-palatal
ʃ palato-alveolar
labialized coronal
velarized coronal
pharyngealized coronal
voice-onset time aspirated coronal


In Arabic and Maltese philology, the sun letters represent coronal consonants.


European coronal consonants
Name of the consonant Language Example IPA
z Voiced alveolar sibilant English zoo /zuː/
s Voiceless alveolar sibilant sea /siː/
ð Voiced dental fricative that /ðæt/
θ Voiceless dental fricative thud /θʌd/
ʒ Voiced palato-alveolar fricative vision /ˈvɪʒən/
ʃ Voiceless palato-alveolar fricative she /ʃiː/
n Alveolar nasal name /neɪm/
d Voiced alveolar plosive day /deɪ/
t Voiceless alveolar plosive tea /tiː/
ɹ Alveolar approximant reef /ɹiːf/
l Alveolar lateral approximant lift /lɪft/
r Alveolar trill Spanish perro /ˈpero/
ɾ Alveolar flap pero /ˈpeɾo/

Australian Aboriginal

In Australian Aboriginal languages, coronals contrast with peripheral consonants.

Australian coronal consonants[1]
Laminal Apical
Alveopalatal Dental Alveolar Retroflex
Stop c ~ t̠ʲ t ʈ
Nasal ɲ ~ n̠ʲ n ɳ
Lateral ʎ ~ l̠ʲ l ɭ

See also


  1. ^ Dixon, R. M. W. (2002). Australian Languages: Their Nature and Development. Cambridge University Press. p. 63. ISBN 0521473780.

Further reading