A voiced alveolar affricate is a type of affricate consonant pronounced with the tip or blade of the tongue against the alveolar ridge (gum line) just behind the teeth. This refers to a class of sounds, not a single sound. There are several types with significant perceptual differences:
The stop component of this affricate is laminalalveolar, which means it is articulated with the blade of the tongue at the alveolar ridge. For simplicity, this affricate is usually called after the sibilant fricative component.
There are at least three specific variants of the fricative component:
Dentalized laminal alveolar (commonly called "dental"), which means it is articulated with the tongue blade very close to the upper front teeth, with the tongue tip resting behind lower front teeth. The hissing effect in this variety of [z] is very strong.
Retracted alveolar, which means it is articulated with either the tip or the blade of the tongue slightly behind the alveolar ridge, termed respectively apical and laminal. Acoustically, it is close to [ʒ] or laminal [ʐ].
Its phonation is voiced, which means the vocal cords vibrate during the articulation.
It is a central consonant, which means it is produced by directing the airstream along the center of the tongue, rather than to the sides.
Contrasts aspirated and unaspirated versions. The unaspirated is represented by ज, which also represents [d͡ʒ]. The aspirated sound is represented by झ, which also represents [d͡ʒʱ]. There is no marked difference for either one.
Its manner of articulation is affricate, which means it is produced by first stopping the airflow entirely, then allowing air flow through a constricted channel at the place of articulation, causing turbulence.
Landau, Ernestina; Lončarić, Mijo; Horga, Damir; Škarić, Ivo (1999), "Croatian", Handbook of the International Phonetic Association: A guide to the use of the International Phonetic Alphabet, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 66–69, ISBN0-521-65236-7
Szende, Tamás (1999), "Hungarian", Handbook of the International Phonetic Association: A guide to the use of the International Phonetic Alphabet, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 104–107, ISBN0-521-65236-7