For consonants, IPA describes 'place of articulation': the part of the mouth the tongue makes contact with, and 'manner of articulation': how the sound is produced there.

Speakers may use the blades of their tongues or the tips of their tongues for different sounds. There may be more terminology/parts of the tongue I don't know the name of.

What's the name of this property?

In the same way 'place of articulation' is the name of the property of contact point, or 'height' is the name of the property of the vertical position of the tongue/jaw when producing vowels.

  • FYI there is no term that refers to this limited to the tongue, excluding the larynx and lips.
    – user6726
    Dec 1, 2021 at 20:27
  • @user6726 you mean "active places of articulation" includes the lips and larynx?
    – minseong
    Dec 1, 2021 at 21:36
  • Yes, for example labials have an active place of articulation, and don't involve the tongue at all.
    – user6726
    Dec 1, 2021 at 22:44
  • @user6726 Which is? Aren't both lips effectively both active and passive articulators in labials (or bilabials at least), rendering the active/passive distinction moot?
    – Nardog
    Dec 2, 2021 at 10:17

1 Answer 1


Those are called active places of articulation. The places of articulation that appear on the IPA chart are more specifically referred to as passive places of articulation.

Common active places (and common passive counterparts) are:

  • Coronal (dental, alveolar, postalveolar)
    • Apical – tongue tip
    • Laminal – tongue blade
    • Subapical or sublaminal – underside of the tongue tip (palatal; "retroflex", when used in the narrow sense, is another way of saying subapical/sublaminal palatal)
  • Dorsal – body of the tongue (palatal, velar, uvular)
  • Radical – root of the tongue (pharyngeal)

When precision is desired, some use e.g. "dorso-velar" or "dorsal velar" instead of just "velar".

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