This question is inspired by the comments to my answer on this question.

Are there reversed affricates, i.e., fricatives ending in a homorganic stop, attested in any language of the world? What is the usual term for such kind of a sound?


One proposed name for a reversed affricate is "suffricate".1 Whether suffricates exist seems to depend on what you think of as the defining characteristic of an affricate.

As far as I know, there have been proposals for analyzing certain sounds as such, but usually another analysis exists that is plausible enough that there is no unanimous consensus in favor of the "suffricate" analysis.

Some things that can be similar:

  • onset clusters of [s] or a similar sibilant + a plosive — I've mainly seen this analysis in the context of Indo-European languages. Note that in the onset, fricatives followed by homorganic plosives, such as [st], usually behave similarly to fricatives followed by non-homorganic plosives, such as [sp], so all the analyses that I have seen that treat things like onset [st] or [ʃt] as suffricates also treat things like onset [sp] and [ʃp] as suffricates. Also, I forget whether any of these analyses treat coda [st] or [sp] as single segments.

  • pre-aspirated stops (typically, these occur after vowel segments). The realization of "aspiration" may involve friction that is more or less homorganic to the plosive part of a phoneme; e.g. a sound like [xk] may occur as the phonetic realization of something that could be analyzed phonologically as a segment /ʰk/ or a sequence /hk/. THe Wikipedia article on affricates has a short section that says

    In rare instances, a fricative–stop contour may occur. This is the case in dialects of Scottish Gaelic that have velar frication [ˣ] where other dialects have pre-aspiration. For example, in the Harris dialect there is [ʃaˣkʰ] 'seven' and [əhʷɔˣkʰ] 'eight' (or [ʃax͜kʰ], [əhʷɔx͜kʰ]).


  1. "The Syllable in German", Wiebke Brockhaus, in The Syllable: Views and Facts, edited by Harry van der Hulst and Nancy A. Ritter, 1999. p. 175.

I found that the term reverse affricate that I created ad hoc is actually used in the literature. Here is a citation: Daniel Silverman, On the rarity of pre-aspirated stops, J. Linguistics 39 (2003), 575–598. DOI: 10.1017/S002222670300210

The paper also mentions the term "reverse of a fricative" used by Michelson 1910 (Michelson calls an affricate fricative, and what we now call fricative is a spirant in his terminology).

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