September 1, 2013

Affricates (also known as affricated plosives, semi-plosives, affricatives), types of consonant sounds. These sounds begin as a plosive with a complete closure but ends like a fricative by releasing the air slowly through a partial closurewith an audible friction. However, during the articulation of affricates, the duration of the fricative noise is shorter than that heard in case of fricatives.

Affricates are then composite of plosives and fricatives. Such hybrid characteristics also apparent in their phonetic symbols since all affricate sounds consist of a plosive sound/phoneme followed by a fricative sound/phoneme. For example, the plosive \t\ and the fricative \ʃ\ constitutes the single sound/phoneme \tʃ\ (ch) in the word chaste.


There are only two affricate consonants in English: /tʃ/dz/. They are generally described on three bases:
(1) Manner of Articulation
The manner of articulation refers to  how the articulators approach to each other to create a closure. It also determines the type and degree of hindrance the airflow meets on its way out affected by the closure. The closure adopts different manners for different sounds. For instance, during the articulation of the affricate sounds the following sequence of events occurs:

        I.            The Closing Stage:
  • The soft palate is raised to shut off the nasal passage of air.
  • The air passage is blocked by a closure formed between the tip, blade and rims of the tongue and the upper alveolar ridge and the side teeth.
      II.            The Compression/Hold Stage:
  • At the same time the front of the tongue is raised towards the hard palate in readiness for fricative release.
    III.            The Release Stage:
  • The closure is then slowly released and the air escapes in a diffuse manner over the central surface of the tongue with some fricative noise.
 (2) Place/Point of Articulation
The place of articulator refers to the place or point where the speech organs create a closure by either coming close or near contact. This is the place where the sound is produced. There is only one type of closure producing the nasal sounds: Palato-alveolar. The said closure is made by blocking the air passage by the following articulators:
  • the tip of the tongue
  • the blade of the tongue
  • the front of the tongue
  • the rims of the tongue
  • the upper alveolar ridge
  • the side teeth, and
  • the hard palate
Place of Articulation Affricates
(3) Voicing/Phonation
Voicing refers to whether or not the vocal folds are vibrating. If the vocal folds vibrate during the articulation then a voiced sound is produced. Contrariwise, if the vocal folds do not vibrate then a voiceless sound is produced. Some phoneticians use the terms Lenis and Fortis to describe the voiced and voiceless sounds respectively. In English affricates come paired with one voiceless and one voiced sound. For example, /tʃ/ is a voiceless palato-alveolar affricate, whereas, /dz/ is a voiced affricate.


/tʃ/ and /dz/ can occur initially, medially, and finally, for instance:

Affricates Initial Medial Final
/tʃ/ Chip butcher Catch
/dz/ jam aged luggage

Affricates at a Glance

The affricate sounds can be summarized in the following table:

Place/Point of Articulation
Manner of Articulation


“Affricate”. Encyclopædia Britannica. 2013. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. 24 August 2013 <>.

“Affricate Consonant.” Wikipedia. 2013. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 24 August 2013

Roach, Peter. English Phonetics and Phonology: A self-contained, comprehensive pronunciation course.
3rd ed. Cambridge: CUP, 2000.

Varshney, Dr. R.L.  An Introduction of Linguistics & Phonetics. Dhaka: BOC, n.d. 91.

Yule, George. The Study of Language. 2nd ed. Cambridge: CUP, 1996. 46.

Tanvir Shameem Tanvir Shameem is not the biggest fan of teaching, but he is doing his best to write on various topics of language and literature just to guide thousands of students and researchers across the globe. You can always find him experimenting with presentation, style and diction. He will contribute as long as time permits. You can find him on:


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