Illustration of approximant articulation

Voiced
LABIAL VELAR
APPROXIMANT
Voiced
PALATAL
APPROXIMANT
Voiced
ALVEOLAR
LATERAL APPROXIMANT
LABIAL •
Central
Central
LINGUO-LABIAL •
Lateral
• LINGUO-LABIAL
Approximant
LABIO-DENTAL •
DENTAL •
• DENTAL
ALVEOLAR •
• ALVEOLAR
PALATAL •
• PALATAL
Central
VELAR •
Approximant

Approximants are speech sounds which are pronounced with a stricture of open approximation. This means that the active articulator approaches the passive articulator but there remains a wide gap between both so that the airflow does not cause audible friction. Approximants can have a central or a lateral conformational aspect. In central approximants, the air flows along a central path along the tongue. In lateral approximants the tongue touches the roof of the mouth in the central area and the air flows around this obstacle.

 

The IPA distinguishes 5 symbols for the central approximants and 4 symbols for the lateral approximants. Additional symbols for the central approximates can be derived from the fricative symbol at the corresponding place of articulation by adding a diacritic denoting a more open degree of approximation (e.g. the lingo-labial and dental approximants).

Symbols for the phonetic transcription of approximants

Approximant
Approximant
Central
Approximant
Central
Approximant
Approximant
Lateral
Central
Approximant
Lateral
Approximant
Central
RETROFLEX •
Approximant
• RETROFLEX
Approximant
Lateral
Central
Approximant
Approximant
Lateral
Lateral
VELAR •
Approximant
CENTRAL •
• CENTRAL
LATERAL •
• LATERAL
LINGUO LABIAL
DENTAL
RETROFLEX
VELAR
LABIAL
LABIO DENTAL
ALVEOLAR
PALATAL
UVULAR
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Nutshell phonetics of approximants

 

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