Alveolar Clicks

Alveolar Clicks

The alveolar AKA postalveolar clicks are a family of click consonants found only in Africa and in the Damin ritual jargon of Australia.

The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents the place of articulation of these sounds is ⟨ǃ⟩. The symbol is not an exclamation mark in origin, but rather a pipe with a subscript dot ( ⟨ǀ̣⟩ ), the old diacritic for retroflex consonants. Prior to 1989, ⟨ʗ⟩ was the IPA letter for the alveolar clicks, and this is still preferred by some phoneticians. The tail of ⟨ʗ⟩ may be the tail of retroflex consonants in the IPA, and thus analogous to the underdot of ⟨ǃ⟩. Either letter may be combined with a second letter to indicate the manner of articulation, though this is commonly omitted for tenuis clicks, and increasingly a diacritic is used instead.

Common alveolar clicks are:

IPA I IPA II Description
⟨ǃ⟩ ⟨ʗ⟩ tenuis alveolar click
⟨ǃʰ⟩ ⟨ʗʰ⟩ aspirated alveolar click
⟨ǃ̬⟩ ⟨ʗ̬⟩ ⟨ᶢǃ⟩ ⟨ᶢʗ⟩ voiced alveolar click
⟨ǃ̃⟩ ⟨ʗ̃⟩ ⟨ᵑǃ⟩ ⟨ᵑʗ⟩ alveolar nasal click
⟨ǃ̥̃ʰ⟩ ⟨ʗ̃̊ʰ⟩ ⟨ᵑ̊ǃʰ⟩ ⟨ᵑ̊ʗʰ⟩ aspirated alveolar nasal click
⟨ǃ̃ˀ⟩ ⟨ʗ̃ˀ⟩ ⟨ᵑǃˀ⟩ ⟨ᵑʗˀ⟩ glottalized alveolar nasal click

The last is what is heard in the sound sample at right, as non-native speakers tend to glottalize clicks to avoid nasalizing them.

In the orthographies of individual languages, the letters and digraphs for alveolar clicks may be based on either the pipe symbol of the IPA, ⟨ǃ⟩, or on the Latin ⟨q⟩ of Bantu convention. Nama and most Saan languages use the former; Naro, Sandawe, and Zulu use the latter.

Read more about Alveolar Clicks:  Features, Occurrence, Fricated Alveolar Clicks

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