• Dutch
  • Frisian
  • Afrikaans
Show full table of contents
The palatal approximant /j/
quickinfo

Features
A possible feature specification of /j/ is +high, -low, +tense, -round, -back.

/j/ as an alternant of /i/
Although it is usually seen as an independent phoneme, there are some reasons for analysing [j] as a realization of /i/ in consonantal position. One such reason is that unstressed /i/ in hiatus position can be optionally realized as a [j]: /piano/piano can be pronounced as [pjano]. Secondly, [j] can never occur before [i]; there is no word starting with [ji] in Dutch, which might be due to some OCP-type of avoidance. Thirdly, also in hiatus position, a [j] is typically inserted after an /i/, so that an alternative realization of /piano/ is [pijano]. This argument is less strong than the other two, because [j] is also inserted after /e/ and sometimes after /y/: theater/teatər/[tejatər]theatre, duo/dyo/[dyjo]duo.

Phonotactic behaviour
/j/ can occur in onsets ( jascoat, jayes), provided the nucleus is not an [i]. It occurs as the second member of an onset only in loanwords and foreign names, which seem always clearly recognizable as such ( fjord, Pjotr) or, after t, in onomatopoeia ( tjilpento chirp). It can occur after long back vowels in syllable coda ( groeigrow, haaishark) (for more detail see below).

readmore
[+] Articulatory information

Dutch /j/ is a voicedpalatalapproximant.

Palatal
Speech sounds produced at palatal place of articulation, between alveolar and velar, so involving a constriction between the tongue body and the hard palate. See human speech organs.

Approximant
Consonant involving free airflow through a channel wide enough to preclude frication. See the human speech organs.


Figure 1: The human speech organs

[click image to enlarge]

[+] Acoustic information

Palatal
  • in obstruents, noise or noise bursts characterised by a centre of gravity around 4700 Hz. Second formant transitions into vowels come from around 2000 Hz, and goes in a downward direction for most vowels. F3 is lower than in alveolars.

  • in sonorants, formant structure characterised by a relatively high F2.

Approximant
  • consonant involving free airflow through a channel wide enough to preclude turbulent noise.

Dutch /j/ is a voicedpalatalapproximant. It is characterised by clearly visible formant structure, with a relatively low F1 and high F2. It is similar to the vowel /i/ in this respect.

[+] Examples

Table 1: Soundfiles, waveforms and spectrograms of the above sound files, with indications of the relevant acoustic parameters of Northern Standard Dutch /j/
wordgroup phonological context sound waveform/spectogramme
(...) waar ik 'ja zei(...) where I said yes word-initial
[click image to enlarge]
af te draaienturning off intervocalic
[click image to enlarge]
deze is heel mooithis one is very beautiful word-final
[click image to enlarge]

Table 2: Soundfiles, waveforms and spectrograms of the above sound files, with indications of the relevant acoustic parameters of Southern Standard Dutch /j/
wordgroup phonological context sound waveform/spectogramme
jayes word-initial
[click image to enlarge]
draaien rond de zonturn around the sun intervocalic
[click image to enlarge]
wat een mooi huiswhat a beautiful house word-final
[click image to enlarge]
[+] More detail

There is some debate as to whether the word-final sound in words such as haai[haj]shark, mooi[moj]beautiful, boei[buj]shackle, buoy is in fact a /j/ consonant (Gussenhoven and Broeders 1976: 126; Booij 1995: 7) or a realisation of a vowel /i/(Mees and Collins 1982). Phonetically and phonologically, there are good reasons to assume it is in fact /j/ (see Zonneveld and Trommelen 1980; Maddieson and Ladefoged 1996).

References:
  • Booij, Geert1995The phonology of DutchOxfordOxford University Press
  • Gussenhoven, Carlos & Broeders, Antonius P.A1976A pronunciation of ENglish: A course for Dutch learnersGroningenWolters-Noordhoff-Longman
  • Maddieson, Ian & Ladefoged, Peter1996The sounds of the world's languagesOxford/CambridgeBlackwell Publishers
  • Mees, Inge & Collins, Beverley1982A phonetic description of the consonant system of Standard Dutch (ABN)Journal of the International Phonetic Association122-12
  • Zonneveld, Wim & Trommelen, Mieke1980Egg, onion, ouch! On the representation of Dutch diphthongsSpringer Netherlands
Suggestions for further reading ▼
phonology
  • Dutch
  • Frisian
  • Afrikaans
Show more ▼
morphology
  • Dutch
  • Frisian
  • Afrikaans
  • -ier
    [53%] Dutch > Morphology > Word formation > Derivation > Nouns > Nominal suffixes
  • -iet
    [53%] Dutch > Morphology > Word formation > Derivation > Nouns > Nominal suffixes
  • -aar and -enaar
    [52%] Dutch > Morphology > Word formation > Derivation > Nouns > Nominal suffixes
  • -in
    [52%] Dutch > Morphology > Word formation > Derivation > Nouns > Nominal suffixes
  • -schap (de)
    [51%] Dutch > Morphology > Word formation > Derivation > Nouns > Nominal suffixes
      Show more ▼
      syntax
      • Dutch
      • Frisian
      • Afrikaans
          Show more ▼
          cite
          print