The voiceless retroflex stop is a type of consonantal sound, used in some spoken languages. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is ⟨ʈ⟩, and the equivalent X-SAMPA symbol is t`. Like all the retroflex consonants, the IPA symbol is formed by adding a rightward-pointing hook extending from the bottom of tee (the letter used for the equivalent alveolar consonant). In many fonts lowercase tee already has a rightward-pointing hook, but ⟨ʈ⟩ is distinguished from ⟨t⟩ by extending the hook below the baseline.
Features of the voiceless retroflex stop:
- Its manner of articulation is occlusive, which means it is produced by obstructing airflow in the vocal tract. Since the consonant is also oral, with no nasal outlet, the airflow is blocked entirely, and the consonant is a stop.
- Its place of articulation is retroflex, which prototypically means it is articulated subapical (with the tip of the tongue curled up), but more generally, it means that it is postalveolar without being palatalized. That is, besides the prototypical sub-apical articulation, the tongue contact can be apical (pointed) or laminal (flat).
- Its phonation is voiceless, which means it is produced without vibrations of the vocal cords. In some languages the vocal cords are actively separated, so it is always voiceless; in others the cords are lax, so that it may take on the voicing of adjacent sounds.
- It is an oral consonant, which means air is allowed to escape through the mouth only.
- Because the sound is not produced with airflow over the tongue, the central–lateral dichotomy does not apply.
- The airstream mechanism is pulmonic, which means it is articulated by pushing air solely with the lungs and diaphragm, as in most sounds.
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