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The alveolar ridge (/ , /,; also known as the alveolar margin) is one of the two jaw ridges, extensions of the mandible or maxilla, either on the roof of the mouth between the upper teeth and the hard palate or on the bottom of the mouth behind the lower teeth. Most of the roof of one's mouth is the hard palate and the soft palate. The alveolar ridges contain the sockets (alveoli, singular "alveolus") of the teeth. They can be felt with the tongue in the area right above the top teeth or below the bottom teeth. Its surface is covered with little ridges.
The [upper] alveolar ridge is a small protuberance just behind the upper front teeth that can easily be felt with the tongue.
Consonants whose constriction is made with the tongue tip or blade touching or reaching for the alveolar ridge are called alveolar consonants. Examples of alveolar consonants in English are, for instance, [t], [d], [s], [z], [n], [l] like in the words tight, dawn, silly, zoo, nasty and lurid. There are exceptions to this however, such as speakers of the New York accent who pronounce [t] and [d] at the back of their top teeth (dental stops). When pronouncing these sounds the tongue touches ([t], [d], [n]), or nearly touches ([s], [z]) the upper alveolar ridge, which can also be referred to as gum ridge. In many other languages, consonants transcribed with these letters are articulated slightly differently, and are often described as dental consonants. In many languages consonants are articulated with the tongue touching or close to the upper alveolar ridge. The former are called alveolar plosives (such as [t] and [d]), and the latter alveolar fricatives (such as [s] and [ʃ]) or (such as [z] and [ʒ]).
- Roach, Peter: English Phonetics and Phonology. Cambridge University Press, 2004.