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?

  • 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/. May 25 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/. May 25 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.) May 25 at 21:56

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.


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.

  • 1
    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
    May 25 at 20:53
  • 1
    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
    May 26 at 21:25

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.