Journal of the International Phonetic Association

Research Article

On the articulatory classification of (alveolo)palatal consonants

Daniel Recasens

Departament de Filologia Catalana, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona & Laboratori de Fonètica, Institut d'Estudis Catalans, Barcelona


Linguopalatal and sagittal vocal tract configuration data from a large number of languages reveal that the so-called palatal consonants (i.e. [ç ʎ c ɲ j]), as well as the vowel [i], are often realized simultaneously at the alveolar and palatal zones. Moreover, while some of these sound categories may also exhibit a palatal constriction ([ç c ɲ j i]), others are exclusively alveolar or alveolopalatal in line with the manner of articulation characteristics involved ([ʎ], also [ɕ] and [tʃ]). Consonants may favor one or more places of articulation and differ in fronting degree depending on the language taken into consideration; moreover, there appears to be a symmetry requirement by which consonants differing in manner, such as [c] and [ɲ], may agree in place. The data reported in this paper argue in favor of a revision of the articulatory classification of palatal consonants by the International Phonetic Alphabet involving their subdivision into two classes, an alveolopalatal and a palatal one.