In those languages that have F or V sounds, they are usually labiodental, formed with with the upper teeth on the lower lip. But some languages have bilabial F and V instead. It is extremely rare to have both bilabial and labiodental sounds, but I think some South African languages do: in the Venda language their people are called Vhavenda, bilabial VH and labiodental V (I think).

It is in theory possible to make a labiodental P, B, or M, and I find no difficulty in their articulation, but I am not aware of any language that uses them: except that when normally bilabial M is followed by F or V it may become labiodental, as in Italian sinfonia 'symphony'. In Italian it happens to be written NF but the sound is the labiodental M.

The English V is a labiodental fricative, as is the Dutch V. The Dutch letter W represents a labiodental approximant, made at the same place as its V, but with lips wider apart so there is no friction. (In some accents it is bilabial.) This weak V/W sound is also used by some speakers of Indian languages, so when they speak English they may use this intermediate sound instead of the English W and V sounds.

A labiodental affricate PF occurs in German and in certain southern African languages, as Shona pfura 'shoot, kick'. Shona also has the voiced version BV, as ibva 'go away'.

The labiodental W/V is also found in the Bantu language Chichewa, and occurs in the country name Malawi, in which the letter W is properly written with a circumflex above it to indicate that.

The English of London and South-East England often has a pronunciation of R that is perceived as 'rounded'. It is not entirely clear what this is, and there may be different articulations, but one variant is that a kind of labiodental approximant is used as the R.

La`bi*o*den"tal (?), a. [Labium + dental.] Phonetics

Formed or pronounced by the cooperation of the lips and teeth, as f and v.



A labiodental sound or letter.


© Webster 1913.

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