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The phonetic status of the (inter)dental approximant

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  08 July 2010

Kenneth S. Olson
SIL International & University of North
Jeff Mielke
University of
Josephine Sanicas-Daguman
Translators Association of the
Carol Jean Pebley
Hugh J. Paterson III
SIL International & University of North


The (inter)dental approximant is a little-studied speech sound in the Philippines and Western Australia. In this paper, we document the articulation of the sound, providing acoustic and video data from Kagayanen and Limos Kalinga, respectively. The sound is attested in at least fifteen languages. It is contrastive in five Western Australian languages, while in the Philippines it generally patterns as an allophone of /l/ but has emerged recently as a separate phoneme due to contact. It arose independently in the two regions. The sound is easily describable in terms of values of phonological features or phonetic parameters. All of these factors argue for the inclusion of the sound in the International Phonetic Alphabet.

Research Article
Copyright © International Phonetic Association 2010

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