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There are loads of languages that have voiceless post-alveolar affricate, . I am aware of languages that have phonemic voiceless plosives (e.g. Mandarin), but I am wondering if there are any languages that have phonemic aspirated voiceless post-alveolar affricate, [tʃʰ]. Is there any language that has it?

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  • Would you count systems that distinguish voices unaspirated [dʒ] and unvoiced aspirated [tʃʰ]? For a language like English, which pairs like that, the voicing it usually taken to be the primary phonemic factor, but for a language like Danish, it’s aspiration. Phoible doesn’t have Danish in its list, but both /tʃ/ and /tʃʰ/ are common enough in English loan words (e.g., joke [tʃɔ̞ʊɡ̊] vs. chill [tʃe̞l]). It’s perfectly arguable that they’re phonemic, although they’re often subsumed under /dj/ and /tj/. Commented May 25, 2021 at 10:33
  • The Hindustani language (aka Hindi and Urdu) has it, plus it is in contrast with the unaspirated unvoiced post-alveolar affricate /tʃ/. Commented May 25, 2021 at 10:46
  • (My transcription of chill above should have read [tʃʰe̞l], of course, with the aspiration. More accurately described, the pair is actually [d̥ʒ̊(ʰ)], since all Danish consonants are lenis.) Commented May 25, 2021 at 21:56

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You can search for the segment [tʃʰ] at Phoible and get quite an impressive list of languages having it. Clicking on Mundari as a randomly chosen example confirms that it contrasts with non-aspirated [tʃ] in that language.

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Sanskrit, and most other Indian languages, have (at least in the script) a four-way distinction of c - ch - j - jh. I would have to rummage a bit in the dictionary to establish minimal pairs.

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    I don't know how much phonetic detail the OP is interested in, but it's worth noting that (at least for Sanskrit) these are usually described as palatal stops rather than affricates.
    – TKR
    Commented May 25, 2021 at 20:53
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    Theoretically, they are unit phonemes. In practice, they're clusters for some people, sometimes, in some sentences, and not others. Just like /tʃ/'s in Gotcha, Charlie!
    – jlawler
    Commented May 26, 2021 at 21:25
  • Saraiki would be an example of an Indic language in which phonemic [tʃʰ] has been conserved where it occurs. In Punjabi it is present but interestingly it has become an allophone with [ʃ] for many speakers. Commented Nov 8, 2022 at 21:12

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