Allophone

In phonology, an allophone (/ˈæləfoʊn/; from the Greek ἄλλος, állos, "other" and φωνή, phōnē, "voice, sound") is one of a set of multiple possible spoken sounds, or phones, or signs used to pronounce a single phoneme in a particular language.[1] For example, in English, [t] (as in stop [stɒp]) and the aspirated form [] (as in top [ˈtʰɒp]) are allophones for the phoneme /t/, while these two are considered to be different phonemes in some languages such as Thai and Hindi. On the other hand, in Spanish, [d] (as in dolor [doˈloɾ]) and [ð] (as in nada [ˈnaða]) are allophones for the phoneme /d/, while these two are considered to be different phonemes in English.

The specific allophone selected in a given situation is often predictable from the phonetic context, with such allophones being called positional variants, but some allophones occur in free variation. Replacing a sound by another allophone of the same phoneme usually does not change the meaning of a word, but the result may sound non-native or even unintelligible.

Native speakers of a given language perceive one phoneme in the language as a single distinctive sound and are "both unaware of and even shocked by" the allophone variations that are used to pronounce single phonemes.[2][3]

Phoneme-allophone-determination-chart
A simplified procedure to determine whether two sounds represent the same or different phonemes. The cases on the extreme left and the extreme right are those in which the sounds are allophones.

History of concept

The term "allophone" was coined by Benjamin Lee Whorf circa 1929. In doing so, he placed a cornerstone in consolidating early phoneme theory.[4] The term was popularized by George L. Trager and Bernard Bloch in a 1941 paper on English phonology[5] and went on to become part of standard usage within the American structuralist tradition.[6]

Complementary and free-variant allophones and assimilation

Whenever a user's speech is vocalized for a given phoneme, it is slightly different from other utterances, even for the same speaker. That has led to some debate over how real and how universal phonemes really are (see phoneme for details). Only some of the variation is significant, by being detectable or perceivable, to speakers.

There are two types of allophones, based on whether a phoneme must be pronounced using a specific allophone in a specific situation or whether the speaker has the unconscious freedom to choose the allophone that is used.

If a specific allophone from a set of allophones that correspond to a phoneme must be selected in a given context, and using a different allophone for a phoneme would cause confusion or make the speaker sound non-native, the allophones are said to be complementary. The allophones then complement each other, and one of them is not used in a situation in which the usage of another is standard. For complementary allophones, each allophone is used in a specific phonetic context and may be involved in a phonological process.[7]

In other cases, the speaker can freely select from free variant allophones on personal habit or preference, but free variant allophones are still selected in the specific context, not the other way around.

Another example of an allophone is assimilation, in which a phoneme is to sound more like another phoneme. One example of assimilation is consonant voicing and devoicing, in which voiceless consonants are voiced before and after voiced consonants, and voiced consonants are devoiced before and after voiceless consonants.

Allotone

An allotone is a tonic allophone, such as the neutral tone in Standard Mandarin.

Examples

English

There are many allophonic processes in English: lack of plosion, nasal plosion, partial devoicing of sonorants, complete devoicing of sonorants, partial devoicing of obstruents, lengthening and shortening vowels, and retraction.

  • Aspiration: In English, a voiceless plosive /p, t, k/ is aspirated (has a string explosion of breath) if it is at the beginning of the first or a stressed syllable in a word. For example, [pʰ] as in pin and [p] as in spin are allophones for the phoneme /p/ because they cannot distinguish words (in fact, they occur in complementary distribution). English-speakers treat them as the same sound, but they are different: the first is aspirated and the second is unaspirated (plain). Many languages treat the two phones differently.
  • Nasal plosion – In English, a plosive (/p, t, k, b, d, ɡ/) has nasal plosion if it is followed by a nasal, whether within a word or across a word boundary.
  • Partial devoicing of sonorants: In English, sonorants (/j, w, l, r, m, n, ŋ/) are partially devoiced after a voiceless sound in the same syllable.
  • Complete devoicing of sonorants: In English, a sonorant is completely devoiced after an aspirated plosive (/p, t, k/).
  • Partial devoicing of obstruents: In English, a voiced obstruent is partially devoiced next to a pause or next to a voiceless sound within a word or across a word boundary.
  • Retraction: In English, /t, d, n, l/ are retracted before /r/.

Because the choice among allophones is seldom under conscious control, few people realize their existence. English-speakers may be unaware of the differences among six allophones of the phoneme /t/: unreleased [ t̚] as in cat, aspirated [tʰ] as in top, glottalized [ʔ] as in button, flapped [ɾ] as in American English water, nasalized flapped [ɾ̃] as in winter, and none of the above [t] as in stop. However, they may become aware of the differences if, for example, they contrast the pronunciations of the following words:

  • Night rate: unreleased [ˈnʌɪt̚.ɹʷeɪt̚] (without a word space between [ . ] and [ɹ])
  • Nitrate: aspirated [ˈnaɪ.tʰɹ̥eɪt̚] or retracted [ˈnaɪ.tʃɹʷeɪt̚]

A flame that is held before the lips while those words are spoken flickers more for the aspirated nitrate than for the unaspirated night rate. The difference can also be felt by holding the hand in front of the lips. For a Mandarin-speaker, for whom /t/ and /tʰ/ are separate phonemes, the English distinction is much more obvious than for an English-speaker, who has learned since childhood to ignore the distinction.

Allophones of English /l/ may be noticed if the 'light' [l] of leaf [ˈliːf] is contrasted with the 'dark' [ɫ] of feel [ˈfiːɫ]. Again, the difference is much more obvious to a Turkish-speaker, for whom /l/ and /ɫ/ are separate phonemes, than to an English speaker, for whom they are allophones of a single phoneme.

Other languages

There are many examples for allophones in languages other than English. Typically, languages with a small phoneme inventory allow for quite a lot of allophonic variation: examples are Hawaiian and Toki Pona. Here are some examples (the links of language names go to the specific article or subsection on the phenomenon):

Representing a phoneme with an allophone

Since phonemes are abstractions of speech sounds, not the sounds themselves, they have no direct phonetic transcription. When they are realized without much allophonic variation, a simple broad transcription is used. However, when there are complementary allophones of a phoneme, the allophony becomes significant and things then become more complicated. Often, if only one of the allophones is simple to transcribe, in the sense of not requiring diacritics, that representation is chosen for the phoneme.

However, there may be several such allophones, or the linguist may prefer greater precision than that allows. In such cases, a common convention is to use the "elsewhere condition" to decide the allophone that stands for the phoneme. The "elsewhere" allophone is the one that remains once the conditions for the others are described by phonological rules.

For example, English has both oral and nasal allophones of its vowels. The pattern is that vowels are nasal only before a nasal consonant in the same syllable; elsewhere, they are oral. Therefore, by the "elsewhere" convention, the oral allophones are considered basic, and nasal vowels in English are considered to be allophones of oral phonemes.

In other cases, an allophone may be chosen to represent its phoneme because it is more common in the languages of the world than the other allophones, because it reflects the historical origin of the phoneme, or because it gives a more balanced look to a chart of the phonemic inventory.

An alternative, which is commonly used for archiphonemes, is to use a capital letter, such as /N/ for [m], [n], [ŋ].

In rare cases, a linguist may represent phonemes with abstract symbols, such as dingbats, to avoid privileging any particular allophone.

See also

References

  1. ^ R. Jakobson, Structure of Language and Its Mathematical Aspects: Proceedings of symposia in applied mathematics, AMS Bookstore, 1980, ISBN 978-0-8218-1312-6, ...An allophone is the set of phones contained in the intersection of a maximal set of phonetically similar phones and a primary phonetically related set of phones....
  2. ^ B.D. Sharma, Linguistics and Phonetics, Anmol Publications Pvt. Ltd., 2005, ISBN 978-81-261-2120-5, ... The ordinary native speaker is, in fact, often unaware of the allophonic variations of his phonemes ...
  3. ^ Y. Tobin, Phonology as human behavior: theoretical implications and clinical applications, Duke University Press, 1997, ISBN 978-0-8223-1822-4, ...always found that native speakers are clearly aware of the phonemes of their language but are both unaware of and even shocked by the plethora of allophones and the minutiae needed to distinguish between them....
  4. ^ Lee, Penny (1996). The Whorf Theory Complex — A Critical Reconstruction. John Benjamins. pp. 46, 88.
  5. ^ Trager, George L. (1959). "The Systematization of the Whorf Hypothesis". Anthropological Linguistics. Operational Models in Synchronic Linguistics: A Symposium Presented at the 1958 Meetings of the American Anthropological Association. 1 (1): 31–35. JSTOR 30022173.
  6. ^ Hymes, Dell H.; Fought, John G. (1981). American Structuralism. Walter de Gruyter. p. 99.
  7. ^ Barbara M. Birch, English L2 reading: getting to the bottom, Psychology Press, 2002, ISBN 978-0-8058-3899-2, ...When the occurrence of one allophone is predictable when compared to the other, as in this case, we call this complementary distribution. Complementary distribution means that the allophones are 'distributed' as complements....

External links

Allophone (Canada)

In Canada, an allophone is a resident whose mother tongue or home language is neither French nor English. The term parallels anglophone and francophone, which designate people whose mother tongues are English and French, respectively. Native speakers of aboriginal languages are generally not treated as allophones.

Alveolar and postalveolar approximants

The alveolar approximant is a type of consonantal sound used in some spoken languages. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents the alveolar and postalveolar approximants is ⟨ɹ⟩, a lowercase letter r rotated 180 degrees. The equivalent X-SAMPA symbol is r\.

There is no separate symbol for the dental approximant (as in Spanish nada) in the International Phonetic Alphabet, which most scholars transcribe with the symbol for a voiced dental fricative, ⟨ð⟩.

The most common sound represented by the letter r in English is the postalveolar approximant, pronounced a little more back and transcribed more precisely in IPA as ⟨ɹ̠⟩, but ⟨ɹ⟩ is often used for convenience in its place. For further ease of typesetting, English phonemic transcriptions might use the symbol ⟨r⟩ even though this symbol represents the alveolar trill in phonetic transcription.

Bilabial trill

The bilabial trill is a type of consonantal sound, used in some spoken languages. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents the sound is ⟨ʙ⟩, and the equivalent X-SAMPA symbol is B\.

In many of the languages in which the bilabial trill occurs, it occurs only as part of a prenasalized bilabial stop with trilled release, [mbʙ]. That developed historically from a prenasalized stop before a relatively high back vowel like [mbu]. In such instances, the sounds are usually still limited to the environment of a following [u]. However, the trills in Mangbetu may precede any vowel and are sometimes preceded by only a nasal.

A few languages, such as Mangbetu of Congo and Ninde of Vanuatu, have both a voiced and a voiceless bilabial trill.There is also a very rare voiceless alveolar bilabially trilled affricate, [t̪͡ʙ̥] (written ⟨tᵖ̃⟩ in Everett & Kern) reported from Pirahã and from a few words in the Chapacuran languages Wari’ and Oro Win. The sound also appears as an allophone of the labialized voiceless alveolar stop /tʷ/ of Abkhaz and Ubykh, but in those languages it is more often realised by a doubly articulated stop [t͡p]. In the Chapacuran languages, [tʙ̥] is reported almost exclusively before rounded vowels such as [o] and [y].

Labiodental nasal

The labiodental nasal is a type of consonantal sound. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is ⟨ɱ⟩. The IPA symbol is a lowercase letter m with a leftward hook protruding from the lower right of the letter. Occasionally it is instead transcribed as an em with a dental diacritic: ⟨m̪⟩.

It is pronounced very similarly to the bilabial nasal [m], except instead of the lips touching each other, the lower lip touches the upper teeth. The position of the lips and teeth is generally the same as for the production of the other labiodental consonants, like [f] and [v], though closure is incomplete for the fricatives.

Although commonly appearing in languages, it is overwhelmingly present non-phonemically, largely restricted to appear before labiodental consonants like [f] and [v]. A phonemic /ɱ/ has been reported for the Kukuya language, which contrasts it with /m, mpf, mbv/ and is "accompanied by strong protrusion of both lips". It is [ɱʷ] before /a/ and [ɱ] before /i/ and /e/, perhaps because labialization is constrained by the spread front vowels; it does not occur before back (rounded) vowels.It is doubted by some scholars that a true stop can be made by this gesture because of gaps between the incisors, which for many speakers would allow air to flow during the occlusion; this is particularly pertinent considering that one of the words with this consonant, /ɱáá/, means a 'gap between filed incisors,' a practice of the local people. The /ɱ/ might be better characterized as a labiodental nasal approximant than as a nasal occlusive.

Nonetheless, it is common phonetically, as it is a typical allophone of /m/ and /n/ before the labiodental fricatives [f] and [v], as in English comfort, circumvent, infinitive, or invent. In Angami, it occurs as an allophone of /m/ before /ə/. For Drubea, [ɱ] is reported as an allophone of /v/ before nasal vowels.A proposal to retire the letter ⟨ɱ⟩ was made at the Kiel Convention, at the same time the extensions to the IPA were presented, with the labiodental nasal to be transcribed solely by ⟨m̪⟩, but the proposal was defeated in committee.

Mid central vowel

The mid central vowel (also known as schwa) is a type of vowel sound, used in some spoken languages. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is ⟨ə⟩, a rotated lowercase letter e.

While the Handbook of the International Phonetic Association does not define the roundedness of [ə], it is more often unrounded than rounded. The phonetician Jane Setter describes the pronunciation of the unrounded variant as follows: "[ə] is a sound which can be produced by basically relaxing the articulators in the oral cavity and vocalising." To produce the rounded variant, all that needs to be done in addition to that is to round the lips.

Afrikaans contrasts unrounded and rounded mid central vowels; the latter is usually transcribed with ⟨œ⟩. The contrast is not very stable, and many speakers use an unrounded vowel in both cases.Some languages, such as Danish and Luxembourgish, have a mid central vowel that is variably rounded. In some other languages, things are more complicated, as the change in rounding is accompanied with the change in height and/or backness. For instance, in Dutch, the unrounded allophone of /ə/ is mid central unrounded [ə], but its word-final rounded allophone is close-mid front rounded [ø̜], close to the main allophone of /ʏ/.The symbol ⟨ə⟩ is often used for any unstressed obscure vowel, regardless of its precise quality. For instance, the English vowel transcribed ⟨ə⟩ is a central unrounded vowel that can be close-mid [ɘ], mid [ə] or open-mid [ɜ], depending on the environment.

Near-close vowel

A near-close vowel or a near-high vowel is any in a class of vowel sound used in some spoken languages. The defining characteristic of a near-close vowel is that the tongue is positioned similarly to a close vowel, but slightly less constricted.

Other names for a near-close vowel are lowered close vowel and raised close-mid vowel, though the former phrase may also be used to describe a vowel that is as low as close-mid (sometimes even lower); likewise, the latter phrase may also be used to describe a vowel that is as high as close.

Near-close vowels are also sometimes described as lax variants of the fully close vowels, though, depending on the language, they may not necessarily be variants of close vowels at all.

It is rare for languages to contrast a near-close vowel with a close vowel and a close-mid vowel based on height alone. An example of such language is Danish, which contrasts short and long versions of the close front unrounded /i/, near-close front unrounded /e̝/ and close-mid front unrounded /e/ vowels, though in order to avoid using any relative articulation diacritics, Danish /e̝/ and /e/ are typically transcribed with phonetically inaccurate symbols /e/ and /ɛ/, respectively. This contrast is not present in Conservative Danish, which realizes the latter two vowels as, respectively, close-mid [e] and mid [e̞].It is even rarer for languages to contrast more than one close/near-close/close-mid triplet. For instance, Sotho has two such triplets: fully front /i–ɪ–e/ and fully back /u–ʊ–o/. In the case of this language, the near-close vowels /ɪ, ʊ/ tend to be transcribed with the phonetically inaccurate symbols /ɨ, ʉ/, i.e. as if they were close central.

It may be somewhat more common for languages to contain allophonic vowel triplets that are not contrastive; for instance, Russian has one such triplet:

close central rounded [ʉ], an allophone of /u/ between soft consonants in stressed syllables;

near-close central rounded [ʉ̞], an allophone of /u/ between soft consonants in unstressed syllables;

close-mid central rounded [ɵ], an allophone of /o/ after soft consonants.

Near-open front unrounded vowel

The near-open front unrounded vowel, or near-low front unrounded vowel, is a type of vowel sound, used in some spoken languages. Acoustically it is simply an open or low front unrounded vowel. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is ⟨æ⟩, a lowercase of the ⟨Æ⟩ ligature. Both the symbol and the sound are commonly referred to as "ash".

The rounded counterpart of [æ], the near-open front rounded vowel (for which the IPA provides no separate symbol) has been reported to occur allophonically in Danish; see open front rounded vowel for more information.

In practice, ⟨æ⟩ is sometimes used to represent the open front unrounded vowel; see the introduction to that page for more information.

Uvular nasal

The uvular nasal is a type of consonantal sound, used in some spoken languages. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is ⟨ɴ⟩, a small capital version of the Latin letter n; the equivalent X-SAMPA symbol is N\.

The uvular nasal is a rare sound cross-lingually, presumably due to the relative difficulty involved in articulating it. To produce it, the uvula takes part in two quite distinct gestures, one in which the nasal passage is opened up to allow air to escape through the nose, the other in which the oral passage is closed through contact made by the back of the tongue against the uvula. This articulatory complexity can be said to account for the marked rarity of this sound among the world's languages.The uvular nasal most commonly occurs as a conditioned allophone of other sounds in specific environments, for example as an allophone of /n/ before a uvular consonant as in Quechua, or as an allophone of /q/ before another nasal consonant as in Selkup. However, it has been reported to exist as an independent phoneme in a small number of languages. Examples include the Klallam language, the Tawellemmet and Ayr varieties of Tuareg Berber, the Pwo Karen languages, the Rangakha dialect of Khams Tibetan, at least two dialects of the Bai language, and the Papuan language Mapos Buang. In Mapos Buang, there is a three-way dorsal distinction between a palatal nasal, a velar nasal, and a uvular nasal.There is also the pre-uvular nasal in some languages such as Yanyuwa, which is articulated slightly more front compared with the place of articulation of the prototypical uvular nasal, though not as front as the prototypical velar nasal. The International Phonetic Alphabet does not have a separate symbol for that sound, though it can be transcribed as ⟨ɴ̟⟩ (advanced ⟨ɴ⟩), ⟨ŋ̠⟩ or ⟨ŋ˗⟩ (both symbols denote a retracted ⟨ŋ⟩). The equivalent X-SAMPA symbols are N\_+ and N_-, respectively.

Velar lateral ejective affricate

The velar lateral ejective affricate is a rare type of consonantal sound, used in some spoken languages. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is ⟨kʟ̝̊ʼ⟩.

It is found in two forms in Archi, a Northeast Caucasian language of Dagestan, plain [k͡ʟ̝̊ʼ] and labialized [k͡ʟ̝̊ʷʼ]. It is further forward than velars in most languages, and might better be called prevelar. Archi also has voiceless (pulmonic) variants of its lateral affricates, several voiceless lateral fricatives, and a voiced lateral fricative at the same place of articulation, but no alveolar lateral fricatives or affricates.[kʟ̝̊ʼ] is also found as an allophone of /kx/ (ejective after a nasal) in Zulu and Xhosa, and of the velar ejective affricate /kxʼ/ in Hadza. In the latter, it contrasts with palatal [cʎ̝̊], as in [cʼakʼa] 'to cradle'. In fact, the velar ejective is reported to be lateral, or to have a lateral allophone, in various languages of Africa which have clicks, including Taa, various varieties of !Kung, Gǁana (including Gǀui dialect), Khwe (ǁAni dialect), and Khoekhoe.

Velar nasal

The velar nasal, also known as agma, from the Greek word for 'fragment', is a type of consonantal sound, used in some spoken languages. It is the sound of ng in English sing. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is ⟨ŋ⟩, and the equivalent X-SAMPA symbol is N. The IPA symbol ⟨ŋ⟩ is similar to ⟨ɳ⟩, the symbol for the retroflex nasal, which has a rightward-pointing hook extending from the bottom of the right stem, and to ⟨ɲ⟩, the symbol for the palatal nasal, which has a leftward-pointing hook extending from the bottom of the left stem. Both the IPA symbol and the sound are commonly called 'eng' or 'engma'.

As a phoneme, the velar nasal does not occur in many of the indigenous languages of the Americas or in a large number of European or Middle Eastern or Caucasian languages, but it is extremely common in Australian Aboriginal languages and is also common in many languages of Sub-Saharan Africa, East Asia, Southeast Asia and Polynesia. While almost all languages have /m/ and /n/, /ŋ/ is rarer. Only half of the 469 languages surveyed in Anderson (2008) had a velar nasal phoneme; as a further curiosity, a large proportion of them limits its occurrence to the syllable coda. In many languages that do not have the velar nasal as a phoneme, it occurs as an allophone of /n/ before velar consonants. An example of it used this way is the English word ingredient, which can be pronounced as either [ɪnˈɡriːdiənt] or [ɪŋˈɡriːdiənt].

An example of a language that lacks a phonemic or allophonic velar nasal is Russian, in which /n/ is pronounced as laminal denti-alveolar [n̪] even before velar consonants.Some languages have the pre-velar nasal, which is articulated slightly more front compared with the place of articulation of the prototypical velar nasal, though not as front as the prototypical palatal nasal - see that article for more information.

Conversely, some languages have the post-velar nasal, which is articulated slightly behind the place of articulation of a prototypical velar nasal, though not as back as the prototypical uvular nasal.

Voiced bilabial fricative

The voiced bilabial fricative is a type of consonantal sound, used in some spoken languages. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is ⟨β⟩, and the equivalent X-SAMPA symbol is B. The symbol ⟨β⟩ is the Greek letter beta.

This letter is also often used to represent the bilabial approximant, though that is more clearly written with a lowering diacritic, that is ⟨β̞⟩. Theoretically, it could also be transcribed as an advanced labiodental approximant ⟨ʋ̟⟩, but this symbol is hardly ever, if at all, used so. It has been proposed that either a turned ⟨β⟩ or reversed ⟨β⟩ be used as a dedicated symbol for the bilabial approximant, but despite occasional usage this has not gained general acceptance.It is extremely rare for a language to make a phonemic contrast between the voiced bilabial fricative and the bilabial approximant. The Mapos Buang language of New Guinea contains this contrast. Its bilabial approximant is analyzed as filling a phonological gap in the labiovelar series of the consonant system rather than the bilabial series.The bilabial fricative is diachronically unstable and is likely to shift to [v].The sound is not used in English dialects except for Chicano English, but it can be produced by approximating the normal English [v] between the lips.

Voiced palatal fricative

The voiced palatal fricative is a type of consonantal sound, used in some spoken languages. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) that represents this sound is ⟨ʝ⟩ (crossed-tail j), and the equivalent X-SAMPA symbol is j\. It is the non-sibilant equivalent of the voiced palatal sibilant.

In broad transcription, the symbol for the palatal approximant, ⟨j⟩, may be used for the sake of simplicity.

The voiced palatal fricative is a very rare sound, occurring in only seven of the 317 languages surveyed by the original UCLA Phonological Segment Inventory Database. In Kabyle, Margi, Modern Greek, and Scottish Gaelic, the sound occurs phonemically, along with its voiceless counterpart, and in several more, the sound occurs a result of phonological processes.

There is also the voiced post-palatal fricative in some languages, which is articulated slightly more back compared with the place of articulation of the prototypical voiced palatal fricative but not as back as the prototypical voiced velar fricative. The International Phonetic Alphabet does not have a separate symbol for that sound, but it can be transcribed as ⟨ʝ̠⟩, ⟨ʝ˗⟩ (both symbols denote a retracted ⟨ʝ⟩), ⟨ɣ̟⟩ or ⟨ɣ˖⟩ (both symbols denote an advanced ⟨ɣ⟩). The equivalent X-SAMPA symbols are j\_- and G_+, respectively.

Especially in broad transcription, the voiced post-palatal fricative may be transcribed as a palatalized voiced velar fricative (⟨ɣʲ⟩ in the IPA, G' or G_j in X-SAMPA).

Voiced velar approximant

The voiced velar approximant is a type of consonantal sound, used in some spoken languages. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is ⟨ɰ⟩, and the equivalent X-SAMPA symbol is M\.

The consonant is not present in English, but approximates to the sound of a 'g' with the throat kept open. The voiced velar approximant can in many cases be considered the semivocalic counterpart of the close back unrounded vowel [ɯ]. The two are almost identical featurally. ⟨ɰ⟩ and ⟨ɯ̯⟩ with the non-syllabic diacritic are used in different transcription systems to represent the same sound.

In some languages, such as Spanish, the voiced velar approximant appears as an allophone of /ɡ/ – see below.

Some languages have the voiced pre-velar approximant, which is articulated slightly more front compared with the place of articulation of the prototypical voiced velar approximant, though not as front as the prototypical palatal approximant.

The symbol for the velar approximant originates from ⟨ɯ⟩, but with a vertical line. Compare ⟨u⟩ and ⟨ɥ⟩ for the labio-palatal approximant.

Voiced velar fricative

The voiced velar fricative is a type of consonantal sound, used in various spoken languages. It is not found in Modern English but it existed in Old English {Baker, 2012, P. 15}. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is ⟨ɣ⟩, a Latinized variant of the Greek letter gamma, ⟨γ⟩, which has this sound in Modern Greek. It should not be confused with the graphically similar ⟨ɤ⟩, the IPA symbol for a close-mid back unrounded vowel, which some writings use for the voiced velar fricative.

The symbol ⟨ɣ⟩ is also sometimes used to represent the velar approximant, though that is more accurately written with the lowering diacritic: [ɣ̞] or [ɣ˕]. The IPA also provides a dedicated symbol for a velar approximant, [ɰ], though there can be stylistic reasons to not use it in phonetic transcription.

There is also a voiced post-velar fricative (also called pre-uvular) in some languages. For voiced pre-velar fricative (also called post-palatal), see voiced palatal fricative.

Voiceless alveolar trill

A voiceless alveolar trill differs from the voiced alveolar trill /r/ only by the vibrations of the vocal cord. It occurs in a few languages, usually alongside the voiced version, as a similar phoneme or an allophone.

Proto-Indo-European *sr developed into a sound spelled ⟨ῥ⟩, with the letter for /r/ and the diacritic for /h/, in Ancient Greek. It was probably a voiceless alveolar trill and became the regular word-initial allophone of /r/ in standard Attic Greek that has disappeared in Modern Greek.

PIE *srew- > Ancient Greek ῥέω "flow", possibly [r̥é.oː]

Voiceless bilabial fricative

The voiceless bilabial fricative is a type of consonantal sound, used in some spoken languages. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is ⟨ɸ⟩.

Voiceless palatal fricative

The voiceless palatal fricative is a type of consonantal sound used in some spoken languages. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is ⟨ç⟩, and the equivalent X-SAMPA symbol is C. It is the non-sibilant equivalent of the voiceless alveolo-palatal fricative.

The symbol ç is the letter c with a cedilla, as used to spell French and Portuguese words such as façade and ação. However, the sound represented by the letter ç in French and Portuguese orthography is not a voiceless palatal fricative but /s/, the voiceless alveolar fricative.

Palatal fricatives are relatively rare phonemes, and only 5% of the world's languages have /ç/ as a phoneme. The sound occurs, however, as an allophone of /x/ in German, or, in other languages, of /h/ in the vicinity of front vowels.

There is also the voiceless post-palatal fricative in some languages, which is articulated slightly more back compared with the place of articulation of the prototypical voiceless palatal fricative, though not as back as the prototypical voiceless velar fricative. The International Phonetic Alphabet does not have a separate symbol for that sound, though it can be transcribed as ⟨ç̠⟩, ⟨ç˗⟩ (both symbols denote a retracted ⟨ç⟩) or ⟨x̟⟩ (advanced ⟨x⟩). The equivalent X-SAMPA symbols are C_- and x_+, respectively.

Especially in broad transcription, the voiceless post-palatal fricative may be transcribed as a palatalized voiceless velar fricative (⟨xʲ⟩ in the IPA, x' or x_j in X-SAMPA).

Voiceless velar affricate

The voiceless velar affricate is a type of consonantal sound, used in some spoken languages. The symbols in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound are ⟨k͡x⟩ and ⟨k͜x⟩, and the equivalent X-SAMPA symbol is k_x. The tie bar may be omitted, yielding ⟨kx⟩ in the IPA and kx in X-SAMPA.

Some languages have the voiceless pre-velar affricate, which is articulated slightly more front compared with the place of articulation of the prototypical voiceless velar affricate, though not as front as the prototypical voiceless palatal affricate - see that article for more information.

Conversely, some languages have the voiceless post-velar affricate, which is articulated slightly behind the place of articulation of the prototypical voiceless velar affricate, though not as back as the prototypical voiceless uvular affricate - see that article for more information.

Voiceless velar lateral affricate

The voiceless velar lateral affricate is an uncommon speech sound found as a phoneme in the Caucasus and as an allophone in several languages of eastern and southern Africa.

Archi, a Northeast Caucasian language of Dagestan, has two such affricates, plain [k͡ʟ̝̊] and labialized [k͡ʟ̝̊ʷ], though they are further forward than velars in most languages, and might better be called prevelar. Archi also has ejective variants of its lateral affricates, several voiceless lateral fricatives, and a voiced lateral fricative at the same place of articulation, but no alveolar lateral fricatives or affricates.Zulu and Xhosa have a voiceless lateral affricate as an allophone of their voiceless velar affricate. Hadza has an ejective velar lateral affricate as an allophone of its velar ejective affricate. Indeed, in Hadza this [k͡ʟ̝̊ʼ] contrasts with a palatal lateral ejective affricate, [c͡ʎ̝̊ʼ]. ǁXegwi is reported to have contrasted velar /k͡ʟ̝̊/ from alveolar /t͜ɬ/.

Laghuu, a Loloish language of Vietnam, contrasts four velar lateral affricates, /k͡ʟ̝̊ʰ, k͡ʟ̝̊, ɡ͡ʟ̝, ᵑɡ͡ʟ̝/.

The IPA has no separate symbol for the fricative element of these sounds, but SIL International has added a symbol, ⟨⟩, to the Private Use Areas of their Gentium, Charis and Doulos fonts, at U+F268. Thus the fricatives can be written ⟨k͡⟩.

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