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

The voiceless alveolo-palatal sibilant fricative is a type of consonantal sound, used in some spoken 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˖⟩.


alveolo-palatal sibilant fricatives [ɕ, ʑ]

Features of the voiceless alveolo-palatal fricative:

In English

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: [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/: [ˈtʃʉːzdeɪ] (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: [ˈt̺ʰʉːzdeɪ] (see yod-dropping), mirroring General American which does not allow /j/ to follow alveolar consonants in stressed syllables.[4][5][6]


Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Adyghe щы/šə [ɕə] 'three'
Assamese ব্ৰিটি/British [bɹitiɕ] 'British'
Bengali কুন [ɕokun] 'Vulture' May be transliterated as ʃ
Catalan[7] caixa [ˈkä(ɪ̯)ɕɐ] 'box' See Catalan phonology
Chinese Some Hokkien dialects /sin [ɕín] 'heart' Allophone of /s/ before /i/.
Mandarin 西安/Xī'ān [ɕí.án] 'Xi'an' Complementary distribution allophone of /ʂ/ in front of high front vowels and palatal glides. See Mandarin phonology.
Chuvash çиçĕм/şişĕm [ˈɕiɕ̬əm] 'lightning' Contrasts with /ʂ/ and /s/. Lenis when intervocalic.
Danish sjæl [ˈɕeːˀl] 'soul' See Danish phonology
Dutch Some speakers sjabloon [ɕäˈbloːn] 'template' May be [ʃ] or [sʲ] instead. See Dutch phonology
English Cardiff[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'
Hindi निवार [ɕəniʋaːr] Saturday Sometimes may be transliterated as 'ʃ'
Japanese[10] /shio [ɕi.o] 'salt' See Japanese phonology
Korean 시/詩/si [ɕʰi] 'poem' See Korean phonology.
Kabardian щэ/ščè [ɕa] 'hundred'
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
Marathi शेतकरी/shetkari [ɕeːt̪kəɾiː] 'farmer' Contrasts with [ʂ]. Allophone of [ʃ]. See Marathi phonology.
Malayalam കുരിശ്/kuriś [kuɾɪɕ] 'Cross' See Malayalam 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
Polish[14] śruba [ˈɕrubä] 'screw' Contrasts with /ʂ/ and /s/. See Polish phonology
Portuguese[15][16][17] [failed verification] mexendo [meˈɕẽd̪u] 'moving' Also described as palato-alveolar [ʃ].[18][19][failed verification] See Portuguese phonology
Romani Kalderash[20] ćhavo [ɕaˈvo] 'Romani boy; son' Realized as [t͡ʃʰ] in conservative dialects.
Romanian Transylvanian dialects[21] ce [ɕɛ] 'what' Realized as [t͡ʃ] in standard Romanian. See Romanian phonology
Russian счастье/schast'e [ˈɕːæsʲtʲjə] 'happiness' Also represented by щ. Contrasts with /ʂ/, /s/, and /sʲ/. See Russian phonology
Sema[22] ashi [à̠ɕì] 'meat' Possible allophone of /ʃ/ before /i, e/.[22]
Serbo-Croatian Croatian[23] miš će [mîɕ t͡ɕe̞] 'the mouse will' Allophone of /ʃ/ before /t͡ɕ, d͡ʑ/.[23] 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་/bzhi [ɕi˨˧] 'four' Contrasts with /ʂ/.
Tatar өчпочмакçpoçmaq [ˌøɕpoɕˈmɑq] 'triangle'
Uzbek[24] [example needed]
Xumi Lower[25] [d͡ʑi ɕɐ˦] 'one hundred'
Yámana (Yahgan) Šúša [ɕúɕa] 'penguin'
Yi /xi [ɕi˧] 'thread'
Zhuang cib [ɕǐp] 'ten'

See also


  1. ^ a b c Collins & Mees (2003:172–173), Cruttenden (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. ^ Cruttenden (2014), p. 177.
  3. ^ Esling (2010), p. 693.
  4. ^ a b Collins & Mees (2003), pp. 173, 306.
  5. ^ a b Cruttenden (2014), pp. 230–231.
  6. ^ a b c Chambers, J.K. (1998). "Changes in progress in Canadian English: Yod-dropping". Journal of English Linguistics. Excerpts from article "Social embedding of changes in progress". 26. Canada: U.Toronto. Archived from the original on 29 February 2008. Retrieved 11 May 2020.
  7. ^ 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. ^ Boretzky & Igla (1994:XVI–XVII)
  21. ^ Pop (1938), p. 29.
  22. ^ a b Teo (2012:368)
  23. ^ a b Landau et al. (1999:68)
  24. ^ Sjoberg (1963:11)
  25. ^ Chirkova & Chen (2013), p. 365.
  26. ^ Chirkova, Chen & Kocjančič Antolík (2013), p. 382.