T and D sounds in Nepali – retroflex vs. dental (part I)

I will explain this in detail for the versions of the sound T. The different versions of the sound D will be analogue

For the actual pronunciation please refer to the video that is posted in the second part of this blog post.

For an English native speaker (and for speakers of most non-Indian languages) learning how to pronounce the four different sounds of T will be something that they actually have to practice. Probably in front of a mirror.

retroflex and dental mirror exercise
Can you tell which sound I am making is retroflex and which sound is dental?

The first distinction between the four T sounds that exist in Nepali is between the retroflex T (ट/ठ) and the dental T (त/थ). The terms retroflex and dental refer to the place where the sound is produced (in both cases here with the tip of the tongue).

retroflex_dental

Retroflex sounds

are all produced by tilting the tongue backwards and upwards, touching the top of the roof of the mouth (the palate)

retroflex

Dental sounds

are produced by touching the edge of the upper teeth with the tip of the tongue:

Dental

Both sounds allow for another distinction between aspiration and non-aspiration, which will be discussed in the second part.

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3 thoughts on “T and D sounds in Nepali – retroflex vs. dental (part I)”

    1. Hey Jeremy,

      you are very welcome. I am glad I was of help. This whole Retroflex and Dental sound system is just alien to English or German – so it obviously helps to properly understand it once and then practice accordingly from there.
      Keep checking out the blog, since I keep posting more material about improving one’s Nepali.

      All the best
      बिपना :)

  1. Thank you so much for these wonderful videos! I am going to Nepal this later March for 3-month volunteering and I intend to start learning Nepali now. I’ve watched all the available videos/learning materials I can find online – yours are the best! Please keep doing it!

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