Sibilants are fricative consonants of higher amplitude and pitch, made by directing a stream of air with the tongue towards the teeth.[1] Examples of sibilants are the consonants at the beginning of the English words sip, zip, ship, and genre. The symbols in the International Phonetic Alphabet used to denote the sibilant sounds in these words are, respectively, [s] [z] [ʃ] [ʒ]. Sibilants have a characteristically intense sound, which accounts for their paralinguistic use in getting one's attention (e.g. calling someone using "psst!" or quieting someone using "shhhh!").

In the alveolar hissing sibilants [s] and [z], the back of the tongue forms a narrow channel (is grooved) to focus the stream of air more intensely, resulting in a high pitch. With the hushing sibilants (occasionally termed shibilants), such as English [ʃ], [tʃ], [ʒ], and [dʒ], the tongue is flatter, and the resulting pitch lower.[2][3]

A broader category is stridents, which include more fricatives than sibilants such as uvulars. Because all sibilants are also stridents, the terms are sometimes used interchangeably. However, the terms do not mean the same thing. The English stridents are /f, v, s, z, ʃ, ʒ, tʃ, dʒ/. Sibilants are a higher pitched subset of the stridents. The English sibilants are /s, z, ʃ, ʒ, tʃ, dʒ/. On the other hand, /f/ and /v/ are stridents, but not sibilants, because they are lower in pitch.[4][5][6]

"Stridency" refers to the perceptual intensity of the sound of a sibilant consonant, or obstacle fricatives or affricates, which refers to the critical role of the teeth in producing the sound as an obstacle to the airstream. Non-sibilant fricatives and affricates produce their characteristic sound directly with the tongue or lips etc. and the place of contact in the mouth, without secondary involvement of the teeth.[citation needed]

The characteristic intensity of sibilants means that small variations in tongue shape and position are perceivable, with the result that there are many sibilant types that contrast in various languages.

  1. ^ Ladefoged & Maddieson 1996.
  2. ^ 이재욱; 이서호 (2019-01-25). 한국인을 위한 전세계 100가지 영어 사투리 (영국 잉글랜드 북부 영어 Mancunian 사투리, Scouse 사투리 Yorkshire 사투리 편): 100 English Dialects in the World for Koreans British English Northern England English Mancunian Dialect, Scouse Dialect Yorkshire Dialect. TAX & LAW PRESS. ISBN 979-11-88917-34-1.
  3. ^ "Sibilance - Definition and Examples of Sibilance". Literary Devices. 2014-02-14. Retrieved 2021-06-29.
  4. ^ "Sibilance - Definition and Examples of Sibilance". Literary Devices. 2014-02-14. Retrieved 2021-06-29.
  5. ^ Pennock-Speck, Barry; Valor, Maria Lluïsa Gea (2020-04-29). A Practical Introduction to English Phonology, 2nd. Edition. Universitat de València. ISBN 978-84-9134-600-5.
  6. ^ Koffi, Ettien (2021-04-20). Relevant Acoustic Phonetics of L2 English: Focus on Intelligibility. CRC Press. ISBN 978-1-000-34009-9.

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