An obstruent (/ˈɒbstruːənt/) is a speech sound such as [k], [d͡ʒ], or [f] that is formed by obstructing airflow. Obstruents contrast with sonorants, which have no such obstruction and so resonate. All obstruents are consonants, but sonorants include vowels as well as consonants.
Obstruents are subdivided into:
- plosives (oral stops), such as [p, t, k, b, d, ɡ], with complete occlusion of the vocal tract, often followed by a release burst;
- fricatives, such as [f, s, ʃ, x, v, z, ʒ, ɣ], with limited closure, not stopping airflow but making it turbulent;
- affricates, which begin with complete occlusion but then release into a fricative-like release, such as [t͡ʃ] and [d͡ʒ].
Obstruents are often prototypically voiceless, but voiced obstruents are common. This contrasts with sonorants, which are prototypically voiced and only rarely voiceless.
- Ian Maddieson (1984). Patterns of Sounds. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-26536-3.
- Ladefoged, Peter; Maddieson, Ian (1996). The Sounds of the World's Languages. Oxford: Blackwell. ISBN 978-0-631-19815-4.