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A voiceless alveolar affricate is a type of affricate consonant pronounced with the tip or blade of the tongue against the alveolar ridge (gum line) just behind the teeth. This refers to a class of sounds, not a single sound. There are several types with significant perceptual differences:
- The voiceless alveolar sibilant affricate [t͡s] is the most common type, similar to the ts in English cats.
- The voiceless alveolar non-sibilant affricate [t͡θ̠] or [t͡θ͇], using the alveolar diacritic from the Extended IPA, is somewhat similar to the th in some pronunciations of English eighth. It is found as a regional realization of the sequence /tr/ in some Sicilian dialects of Standard Italian.
- The voiceless alveolar lateral affricate [t͡ɬ] is found in certain languages, such as Cherokee, Mexican Spanish, and Nahuatl.
- The voiceless alveolar retracted sibilant affricate [t͡s̺], also called apico-alveolar or grave, has a weak hushing sound reminiscent of retroflex affricates. One language in which it is found is Basque, where it contrasts with a more conventional non-retracted laminal alveolar affricate.
This article discusses the first two.