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Epiglottal consonant

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Places of articulation
Labial
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Linguolabial
Labial-velar
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Retroflex
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Alveolo-palatal
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An epiglottal consonant is a consonant that is articulated with the epiglottis against the back of the pharynx.

The epiglottal consonants identified by the International Phonetic Alphabet are:

IPA Description Example
Language Orthography IPA Meaning
Image:Xsampa-greaterthanslash.png voiceless epiglottal plosive
Image:Xsampa-lessthanslash.png voiced epiglottal fricative or approximant
Image:Xsampa-Hslash.png voiceless epiglottal fricative
  • A voiced epiglottal plosive may not be possible. When one becomes voiced intervocalically in Dahalo, for example, it becomes a tap.
  • Although traditionally placed in the fricative row of the IPA chart, is usually an approximant. The IPA symbol itself is ambiguous, but no language has a distinct fricative and approximant at this place of articulation. Sometimes the lowering diacritic is used to specify that the manner is approximant: .
  • Epiglottal trills are quite common (for epiglottals, that is), but this can usually be considered a phonemic plosive or a fricative, with the trill being phonetic detail. The IPA has no symbol for this, though a small capital [Я] is sometimes seen in the literature.

Epiglottals are not known from many languages. However, this may partially be an effect of the difficulty European language-speaking linguists have in recognizing them. On several occasions, when supposedly pharyngeal consonants were actually measured, they turned out to be epiglottals. This was the case for Dahalo, for example.

Epiglottals are primarily known from the Mideast (in the Semitic languages) and from British Columbia ("pharyngeal trills" in northern Haida), but may occur elsewhere. It is likely that several of the Salish or Wakashan languages of British Columbia reported to have "pharyngeals" actually have epiglottals, and the same may be true of some of the languages of the Caucasus.

See also

ja:喉頭蓋音 ko:후두개음

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