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FRONTING

Definition:

Replacing back consonants with front consonants. 

Comment:

Fronting occurs when any consonant that is made posterior to the alveolar ridge is substituted by another consonant that is made at or in front of the alveolar ridge. However, fronting does not apply to the approximants /r j/ or to the glottal /h/.

Examples:

cup /kʌp/ → /tʌp/             (syllable-initial fronting)

fish /fɪʃ/ → /fɪs/                 (syllable-final fronting)

 

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In order to understand the concept of fronting it is necessary to define what is meant by sounds made at the front and back of the mouth.

For our purposes, a front consonant can be thought of as any consonant made at or in front of the alveolar ridge. This, therefore, includes the bilabials /p b m w/, the labio-dentals /f v/, the dentals /θ ð/ and the alveolars / t d n s z l/.

Consequently, a back consonant is any consonant whose place of articulation is behind the alveolar ridge. This, therefore, includes the post-alveolars /ʃ ʒ ʧ ʤ r/, the palatal /j/, the velars /k g ŋ/, and the glottal /h/.

Table 5 summarizes these distributions.

Table 5. Distribution of front and back consonants

Table 5. Distribution of front and back consonants.

When a back consonant is systematically substituted with a front consonant this is referred to as fronting. However, fronting does not apply to the approximants /r j/ or to the glottal fricative /h/. Noting these exceptions, we see from Table 5 that there are two groups of back consonant that can be affected by fronting. They are the velar consonants /k g ŋ/ and the post-alveolar consonants /ʃ   ʧ ʤ/. We will examine each of these in turn.

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