AskDefine | Define palatal

Dictionary Definition

palatal adj
1 relating to or lying near the palate; "palatal index"; "the palatine tonsils" [syn: palatine]
2 produced with the front of the tongue near or touching the hard palate (as `y') or with the blade of the tongue near the hard palate (as `ch' in `chin' or `j' in `gin') [syn: palatalized, palatalised] n : a semivowel produced with the tongue near the palate (like the initial sound in the English word `yeast')

User Contributed Dictionary



  • /ˈpælətl̩/


  1. articulated at the hard palate
  2. dentistry not comparable Of an upper tooth, on the side facing the palate.



palatal (f palatale, m plural palataux)
  1. palatal

Extensive Definition

Palatal consonants are consonants articulated with the body of the tongue raised against the hard palate (the middle part of the roof of the mouth). Consonants with the tip of the tongue curled back against the palate are called retroflex.
The most common type of palatal consonant is the extremely common approximant [j], which ranks as overall, among the ten most common sounds in the world's languages. The nasal ɲ is also common, occurring in around 35 percent of the world's languages, in most of which its equivalent obstruent is not the plosive c, but the affricate . Only a few languages in northern Eurasia, the Americas and central Africa contrast palatal plosives with postalveolar affricates - the only common ones being Hungarian, Czech, Slovak and Albanian.
Warning: the IPA symbols }} are commonly used, not for palatal stops, but for the palatalized velar stops in the transcription of a language.
Consonants with other primary articulations may be palatalised, that is, accompanied by the raising of the tongue surface towards the hard palate. For example, English

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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