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An affricate is a consonant that begins as a stop and releases as a fricative, generally with the same place of articulation (most often coronal). It is often difficult to decide if a stop and fricative form a single phoneme or a consonant pair.[1] English has two affricate phonemes, /t͡ʃ/ and /d͡ʒ/, often spelled ch and j, respectively.


The English sounds spelled "ch" and "j" (broadly transcribed as [t͡ʃ] and [d͡ʒ] in the IPA), German and Italian z [t͡s] and Italian z [d͡z] are typical affricates, and sounds like these are fairly common in the world's languages, as are other affricates with similar sounds, such as those in Polish and Chinese. However, voiced affricates other than [d͡ʒ] are relatively uncommon. For several places of articulation they are not attested at all.

Much less common are labiodental affricates, such as [p͡f] in German and Izi, or velar affricates, such as [k͡x] in Tswana (written kg) or in High Alemannic Swiss German dialects. Worldwide, relatively few languages have affricates in these positions even though the corresponding stop consonants, [p] and [k], are common or virtually universal. Also less common are alveolar affricates where the fricative release is lateral, such as the [t͡ɬ] sound found in Nahuatl and Navajo. Some other Athabaskan languages, such as Dene Suline, have unaspirated, aspirated, and ejective series of affricates whose release may be dental, alveolar, postalveolar, or lateral: [t̪͡θ], [t̪͡θʰ], [t̪͡θʼ], [t͡s], [t͡sʰ], [t͡sʼ], [t͡ʃ], [t͡ʃʰ], [t͡ʃʼ], [t͡ɬ], [t͡ɬʰ], and [t͡ɬʼ].


Affricates are transcribed in the International Phonetic Alphabet by a combination of two letters, one for the stop element and the other for the fricative element. In order to show that these are parts of a single consonant, a tie bar is generally used. The tie bar appears most commonly above the two letters, but may be placed under them if it fits better there, or simply because it is more legible.[2] Thus:

p͡f, t͡s d͡z, t͡ɬ d͡ɮ, t͡ʃ d͡ʒ, t͡ɕ d͡ʑ, ʈ͡ʂ ɖ͡ʐ , k͡x


p͜f, t͜s d͜z, t͜ɬ d͜ɮ, t͜ʃ d͜ʒ, t͜ɕ d͜ʑ, ʈ͜ʂ ɖ͜ʐ , k͜x.

A less common notation indicates the release of the affricate with a superscript:

pᶠ, tˢ dᶻ, t𐞛 d𐞞, tᶴ dᶾ, tᶝ dᶽ, tᶳ dᶼ, kˣ

This is derived from the IPA convention of indicating other releases with a superscript. However, this convention is more typically used for a fricated release that is too brief to be considered a true affricate.

Though they are no longer standard IPA, ligatures are available in Unicode for the sibilant affricates:

ʦ ʣ, ʨ ʥ, ʧ ʤ, 𝼜 𝼙, ꭧ ꭦ.[3]

Any of these notations can be used to distinguish an affricate from a sequence of a stop plus a fricative, which is contrastive in languages such as Polish. However, in languages where there is no such distinction, such as English, the tie bars are commonly dropped.

In other phonetic transcription systems, such as the Americanist system, affricates may be transcribed with single letters. The affricates [t͡s], [d͡z], [t͡ʃ], [d͡ʒ], [t͡ɬ], [d͡ɮ] are transcribed respectively as ⟨c⟩ or ⟨¢⟩; ⟨j⟩, ⟨ƶ⟩, or (older) ⟨ʒ⟩; ⟨c⟩ or ⟨č⟩; ⟨ǰ⟩, ⟨ǧ⟩, or (older) ⟨ǯ⟩; ⟨ƛ⟩; and ⟨λ⟩ or ⟨dl⟩. Within the IPA, [tʃ] and [dʒ] are sometimes transcribed with the symbols for the palatal stops, c and ɟ.

Affricates vs. stop–fricative sequencesEdit

In some languages, affricates contrast phonemically with stop–fricative sequences:

  • Polish affricate /ʈ͡ʂ/ in czysta 'clean (f.)' versus stop–fricative /tʂ/ in trzysta 'three hundred'.[4]
  • Klallam affricate /t͡s/ in k'ʷə́nc 'look at me' versus stop–fricative /ts/ in k'ʷə́nts 'he looks at it'.

The exact phonetic difference varies between languages. In stop–fricative sequences, the stop has a release burst before the fricative starts; but in affricates, the fricative element is the release. Phonologically, stop–fricative sequences may have a syllable boundary between the two segments, but not necessarily.

In English, /ts/ and /dz/ (nuts, nods) are considered phonemically stop–fricative sequences. They often contain a morpheme boundary (for example, nuts = nut + s). The English affricate phonemes /t͡ʃ/ and /d͡ʒ/ do not generally contain morpheme boundaries. Depending on dialect, English speakers may distinguish an affricate from a stop–fricative sequence in some contexts such as when the sequence occurs across syllable boundaries:

  • worst shin /wɜː(ɹ)st.ʃɪn/[wɜː(ɹ)sʔʃɪn]
  • worse chin /wɜː(ɹ)s.t͡ʃɪn/[wɜː(ɹ)st͡ʃɪn]

The /t/ in 'worst shin' debuccalizes to a glottal stop before /ʃ/ in many dialects, making it phonetically distinct from /t͡ʃ/.

One acoustic criterion for differentiating affricates and stop–fricative sequences is the rate of amplitude increase of the frication noise, which is known as the rise time. Affricates have a short rise time to the peak frication amplitude; stop–fricative sequences have longer rise times (Howell & Rosen 1983, Johnson 2003, Mitani et al. 2006).

List of affricatesEdit

In the case of coronals, the symbols t, d are normally used for the stop portion of the affricate regardless of place. For example, [t͡ʂ] is commonly seen for [ʈ͡ʂ].

The exemplar languages are ones that have been reported to have these sounds, but in several cases, they may need confirmation.

Sibilant affricatesEdit

Voiceless Languages Voiced Languages
Voiceless alveolar affricate German z, tz
Japanese つ/ツ [tsu͍]
Mandarin z (pinyin)
Italian z
Pashto څ
Voiced alveolar affricate Japanese (some dialects)
Italian z
Pashto ځ
Voiceless dental affricate Hungarian c
Macedonian ц
Serbo-Croatian c
Polish c
Voiced dental affricate Hungarian dz
Macedonian ѕ
Bulgarian дз
Polish dz
Voiceless alveolo-palatal affricate Japanese ち/チ [tɕi]

Mandarin j (pinyin)
Polish ć, ci
Serbo-Croatian ć

Vietnamese ch

Voiced alveolo-palatal affricate Japanese じ/ジ, ぢ/ヂ [dʑi]
Polish , dzi
Serbo-Croatian đ
Voiceless palato-alveolar affricate English ch, tch
French tch
German tsch
Hungarian cs
Italian ci, ce
Kʼicheʼ ch
Persian چ
Spanish ch
Voiced palato-alveolar affricate Arabic ج
English j, g
French dj
Hungarian dzs
Italian gi, ge
Voiceless retroflex affricate Mandarin zh (pinyin)
Polish cz
Serbo-Croatian č
Slovak č
Vietnamese tr
Voiced retroflex affricate Polish

The Northwest Caucasian languages Abkhaz and Ubykh both contrast sibilant affricates at four places of articulation: alveolar, postalveolar, alveolo-palatal and retroflex. They also distinguish voiceless, voiced, and ejective affricates at each of these.

When a language has only one type of affricate, it is usually a sibilant; this is the case in e.g. Arabic ([d̠ʒ]), most dialects of Spanish ([t̠ʃ]), and Thai ([tɕ]).

Non-sibilant affricatesEdit

Sound (voiceless) IPA Languages Sound (voiced) IPA Languages
Voiceless bilabial affricate [pɸ] Present allophonically in Kaingang and Taos. Not reported as a phoneme in any natural language. Voiced bilabial affricate [bβ] Allophonic in Banjun[5] and Shipibo[6]
Voiceless bilabial-labiodental affricate [pf] German, Teke Voiced bilabial-labiodental affricate [bv] Teke[citation needed]
Voiceless labiodental affricate [p̪f] XiNkuna Tsonga Voiced labiodental affricate [b̪v] XiNkuna Tsonga
Voiceless dental non-sibilant affricate [t̪θ] New York English, Luo, Dene Suline, Cun, some varieties of Venetian and other North Italian dialects Voiced dental non-sibilant affricate [d̪ð] New York,[7] Dublin,[8] and Maori English,[9] Dene Suline
Voiceless retroflex non-sibilant affricate [tɻ̝̊] Mapudungun[citation needed], Malagasy Voiced retroflex non-sibilant affricate [dɻ̝] Malagasy
Voiceless palatal affricate [cç] Skolt Sami (younger speakers), Hungarian (casual speech), Albanian (transcribed as [c]), allophonically in Kaingang Voiced palatal affricate [ɟʝ] Skolt Sami (younger speakers), Hungarian (casual speech), Albanian (transcribed as [ɟ]), some Spanish dialects. Not reported to contrast with a voiced palatal plosive [ɟ]
Voiceless velar affricate [kx] Tswana,[citation needed] High Alemannic German Voiced velar affricate [ɡɣ] Allophonic in some English English[10][11]
Voiceless uvular affricate [qχ] Nez Percé, Wolof, Bats, Kabardian, Avar, Tsez. Not reported to contrast with a voiceless uvular plosive [q] in natural languages. Voiced uvular affricate [ɢʁ] Reported from the Raivavae dialect of Austral[12] and Ekagi with a velar lateral allophone [ɡʟ] before front vowels.
Voiceless pharyngeal affricate [ʡħ] Haida. Not reported to contrast with an epiglottal stop [ʡ] Voiced pharyngeal affricate [ʡʕ] Not attested in any natural language
Voiceless glottal affricate [ʔh] Yuxi dialect, allophonic in Received Pronunciation[13] Voiced glottal affricate [ʔɦ] Not attested in any natural language

Lateral affricatesEdit

Sound (voiceless) IPA Languages Sound (voiced) IPA Languages
Voiceless alveolar lateral affricate [tɬ] Cherokee, Nahuatl, Navajo, Tswana, etc. Voiced alveolar lateral affricate [dɮ] Gwich'in, Sandawe. Not reported to ever contrast with a voiced alveolar lateral fricative [ɮ].
Voiceless retroflex lateral affricate [ʈꞎ] Apical post-alveolar. Realization of phonemic /ʈl/ in Kamkata-vari and Kamvari.[14] Voiced retroflex lateral affricate [ɖ𝼅] Apical post-alveolar. Realization of phonemic /ɖl/ in Kamkata-vari and Kamviri.
Voiceless palatal lateral affricate [c𝼆] as ejective [c𝼆ʼ] in Dahalo; in free variation with [t𝼆] in Hadza. Voiced palatal lateral affricate [ɟʎ̝] Allophonic in Sandawe.
Voiceless velar lateral affricate [k𝼄] as a prevelar in Archi and as an ejective [k𝼄ʼ] in Zulu,[citation needed] also exist in the Laghuu language. Voiced velar lateral affricate [ɡʟ̝] Laghuu.

Trilled affricatesEdit

Sound (voiceless) IPA Languages Sound (voiced) IPA Languages
Voiceless trilled bilabial affricate [pʙ̥] Not attested in any natural language. Voiced trilled bilabial affricate [bʙ] Kele and Avava. Reported only in an allophone of [mb] before [o] or [u].
Voiceless trilled alveolar affricate [tr̥] Ngkoth. Voiced trilled alveolar affricate [dr] Nias. Fijian and Avava also have this sound after [n].
Voiceless epiglottal affricate [ʡʜ] Hydaburg Haida. Voiced epiglottal affricate [ʡʢ] Hydaburg Haida. Cognate to Southern Haida [ɢ], Masset Haida [ʕ].[15]

Pirahã and Wari' have a dental stop with bilabial trilled release [t̪ʙ̥].

Heterorganic affricatesEdit

Although most affricates are homorganic, Navajo and Chiricahua Apache have a heterorganic alveolar-velar affricate [tx] (Hoijer & Opler 1938, Young & Morgan 1987, Ladefoged & Maddeison 1996, McDonough 2003, McDonough & Wood 2008, Iskarous, et al. 2012). Wari' and Pirahã have a voiceless dental bilabially trilled affricate [t̪ʙ̥] (see #Trilled affricates), Blackfoot has [ks]. Other heterorganic affricates are reported for Northern Sotho (Johnson 2003) and other Bantu languages such as Phuthi, which has alveolar–labiodental affricates [tf] and [dv], and Sesotho, which has bilabial–palatoalveolar affricates [pʃ] and [bʒ]. Djeoromitxi (Pies 1992) has [ps] and [bz].

Phonation, coarticulation and other variantsEdit

The coronal and dorsal places of articulation attested as ejectives as well: [tθʼ, tsʼ, tɬʼ, tʃʼ, tɕʼ, tʂʼ, c𝼆ʼ, kxʼ, k𝼄ʼ, qχʼ]. Several Khoisan languages such as !Xóõ are reported to have voiced ejective affricates, but these are actually pre-voiced: [dtsʼ, dtʃʼ]. Affricates are also commonly aspirated: [ɱp̪fʰ, tθʰ, tsʰ, tɬʰ, tʃʰ, tɕʰ, tʂʰ], murmured: [ɱb̪vʱ, d̠ʒʱ], and prenasalized: [ⁿdz, ⁿdzʱ, ᶯɖʐ, ᶯɖʐʱ]. Labialized, palatalized, velarized, and pharyngealized affricates are also common. Affricates may also have phonemic length, that is, affected by a chroneme, as in Italian and Karelian.

Phonological representationEdit

In phonology, affricates tend to behave similarly to stops, taking part in phonological patterns that fricatives do not. Kehrein (2002) analyzes phonetic affricates as phonological stops.[16] A sibilant or lateral (and presumably trilled) stop can be realized phonetically only as an affricate and so might be analyzed phonemically as a sibilant or lateral stop. In that analysis, affricates other than sibilants and laterals are a phonetic mechanism for distinguishing stops at similar places of articulation (like more than one labial, coronal, or dorsal place). For example, Chipewyan has laminal dental [t̪͡θ] vs. apical alveolar [t]; other languages may contrast velar [k] with palatal [c͡ç] and uvular [q͡χ]. Affricates may also be a strategy to increase the phonetic contrast between aspirated or ejective and tenuis consonants.

According to Kehrein (2002), no language contrasts a non-sibilant, non-lateral affricate with a stop at the same place of articulation and with the same phonation and airstream mechanism, such as /t̪/ and /t̪θ/ or /k/ and /kx/.

In feature-based phonology, affricates are distinguished from stops by the feature [+delayed release].[17]


Affrication (sometimes called affricatization) is a sound change by which a consonant, usually a stop or fricative, changes into an affricate. Examples include:


In rare instances, a fricative–stop contour may occur. This is the case in dialects of Scottish Gaelic that have velar frication [ˣ] where other dialects have pre-aspiration. For example, in the Harris dialect there is seachd [ʃaˣkʰ] 'seven' and ochd [ɔˣkʰ] 'eight' (or [ʃax͜kʰ], [ɔx͜kʰ]).[20]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Peter Roach, English Phonetics and Phonology Glassary Archived April 12, 2015, at the Wayback Machine, 2009
  2. ^ For example, in Niesler, Louw, & Roux (2005) Phonetic analysis of Afrikaans, English, Xhosa and Zulu using South African speech databases
  3. ^ John Laver created the para-IPA letters  ᶘ ᶚ for the not-quite retroflex fricatives of Polish sz and ż.
  4. ^ Gussmann, Edmund (2007), The Phonology of Polish, Oxford University Press, p. 7, ISBN 978-0-19-926747-7
  5. ^ "Phoible 2.0 -". Archived from the original on 2021-02-04. Retrieved 2020-12-27.
  6. ^ Valenzuela, Márquez Pinedo & Maddieson (2001).
  7. ^ Labov, William (1966), The Social Stratification of English in New York City (PDF) (2nd ed.), Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 36–37, archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-08-24, retrieved 2014-06-27
  8. ^ Collins & Mees (2003), p. 302.
  9. ^ Warren, Paul; Bauer, Laurie (2004), "Maori English: phonology", in Schneider, Edgar W.; Burridge, Kate; Kortmann, Bernd; Mesthrie, Rajend; Upton, Clive (eds.), A handbook of varieties of English, vol. 1: Phonology, Mouton de Gruyter, pp. 614–624, ISBN 3-11-017532-0
  10. ^ Gimson, Alfred Charles (2014), Cruttenden, Alan (ed.), Gimson's Pronunciation of English (8th ed.), Routledge, p. 172, ISBN 9781444183092
  11. ^ Wells, John C. (1982). Accents of English 2: The British Isles. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 322–323, 372. ISBN 0-521-24224-X.
  12. ^ Zamponi, Raoul (1996). "Multiple sources of glottal stop in Raʔivavaean". Oceanic Linguistics. 35 (1): 6–20. doi:10.2307/3623028. JSTOR 3623028.
  13. ^ Collins & Mees (2003), p. 148.
  14. ^ Strand, Richard F. (2010). "Nurestâni Languages". Encyclopaedia Iranica, Online Edition. Archived from the original on 2016-11-06. Retrieved 2015-06-20.
  15. ^ "Bessell 1993" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2015-06-05.
  16. ^ Kehrein (2002), p. 1.
  17. ^ Hayes, Bruce (2009). Introductory Phonology. Blackwell. pp. 79–80. ISBN 978-1-4051-8411-3.
  18. ^ Takayama, Tomoaki (2015). "15– Historical Phonology". In Kubozono, Haruo (ed.). Handbook of Japanese Phonetics and Phonology. Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co KG. pp. 629–630. ISBN 9781614511984. Archived from the original on 2 May 2016. Retrieved 12 June 2015.
  19. ^ Csúcs, Sándor (2005). Die Rekonstruktion der permischen Grundsprache. Bibliotheca Uralica (in German). Vol. 13. Budapest: Akadémiai Kiadó. p. 139. ISBN 963-05-8184-1.
  20. ^ Laver (1994) Principles of Phonetics, p. 374.


  • Collins, Beverley; Mees, Inger M. (2003) [First published 1981], The Phonetics of English and Dutch (5th ed.), Leiden: Brill Publishers, ISBN 9004103406
  • Hoijer, Harry; & Opler, Morris E. (1938). Chiricahua and Mescalero Apache texts. The University of Chicago publications in anthropology; Linguistic series. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • Howell Peter; & Rosen, Stuart. (1983). Production and perception of rise time in the voiceless affricate/fricative distinction. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 73 (3), 976–984.
  • Iskarous, K; McDonough, J; & Whalen, D. (2012) A gestural account of the velar fricative in Navajo. Journal of Laboratory Phonology 195-210.
  • Johnson, Keith. (2003). Acoustic & auditory phonetics (2nd ed.). Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing.
  • Kehrein, Wolfgang (2002). Phonological representation and phonetic phasing: affricates and laryngeals. Tübingen: De Gruyter. doi:10.1515/9783110911633. ISBN 9783484304666.
  • Ladefoged, P. (1995) A Course in Phonetics (5th ed] Wadsworth, Inc
  • Ladefoged, P; & Maddieson, I. (1996) Sounds of the Worlds Languages. Blackwell.
  • Maddieson, Ian. (1984). Patterns of sounds. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-26536-3
  • McDonough, J (2003) The Navajo Sound System. Kluwer
  • McDonough, Joyce; & Wood, Valerie. (2008). The stop contrasts of the Athabaskan languages. Journal of Phonetics 36, 427-449.
  • Mitani, Shigeki; Kitama, Toshihiro; & Sato, Yu. (2006). Voiceless affricate/fricative distinction by frication duration and amplitude rise slope. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 120 (3), 1600–1607.
  • Valenzuela, Pilar M.; Márquez Pinedo, Luis; Maddieson, Ian (2001), "Shipibo", Journal of the International Phonetic Association, 31 (2): 281–285, doi:10.1017/S0025100301002109, archived from the original on 2021-12-02, retrieved 2021-07-17
  • Young, R & Morgan W. (1987) The Navajo Language. University of New Mexico Press.

External linksEdit