Palatalization(redirected from palatalize)
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(also softening of consonants), a secondary articulation that involves raising the middle part of the back of the tongue to the hard palate to modify the basic articulation of consonants. Palatalization may be combined with any basic consonantal articulation except dorsal. Since the position of the tongue in palatalization is similar to its position in forming the vowel [i], palatalized consonants have an [i]-vowel coloring. Acoustically, palatalization involves the creation of pitches of a higher frequency.
Palatalization is widespread in many languages before front vowels, especially [i]. It is very important in Russian, since it serves as a distinctive feature of phonemes, as in luk (“onion”) and liuk (“hatch”).