I noted that to make the sound the sides of the tongue make an occlusion in the laterals, this would mean the point of greatest constriction isn't just in the alveolar ridge.

  • Yes -- a lingual stop must 'occlude the laterals', but it is where the (easily sensed) tongue tip occludes that determines which phoneme is sounded.
    – amI
    Sep 27 '18 at 2:49
  • That goes agaisnt the traditional definition of articulatory place - the point where the greatest constriction occurs. Maybe we could change this or the name of the lingual stops to be more truer? Would be nice if we did. Ty for the reply. Sep 27 '18 at 2:57
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    In a stop, all constriction is equal (=total). The pithy definition is probably wrong, but 'articulatory place' would apply more to the tongue tip, since that is under finer control.
    – amI
    Sep 27 '18 at 3:12
  • The place of articulation of a sound is the point of greatest constriction in relation to other sounds of the same manner of articulation. If the sides are not blocked, the sound is no longer a stop but a lateral, which is a different manner.
    – Nardog
    Sep 27 '18 at 16:38

As aml has pointed out in the comments, a stop consonant involves stopping the airflow entirely (hence the name). For stops made using the tongue, this means the tongue needs to block off the entire mouth, so there will always be contact both along the sides and in the middle.

Since the sides of the tongue do pretty much the same thing in an alveolar stop versus a palatal stop versus a dental stop, we choose to ignore them: they simply don't give us any useful information. Instead we focus on where the tip of the tongue is, since that varies more and is much easier to measure. That's what determines the "official" place of articulation.

  • I see. Wich definition of articulatory place would you think is more appropriate? Sep 27 '18 at 14:44
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    @DuarteAlfonsoMartin I'm fine with the official one, since I've never had a problem with it—it's served me perfectly well.
    – Draconis
    Sep 27 '18 at 15:29

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