Labial consonant

Labial consonants are consonants in which one or both lips are the active articulator. The two common labial articulations are bilabials, articulated using both lips, and labiodentals, articulated with the lower lip against the upper teeth, both of which are present in English. A third labial articulation is dentolabials, articulated with the upper lip against the lower teeth (the reverse of labiodental), normally only found in pathological speech. Generally precluded are linguolabials, in which the tip of the tongue contacts the posterior side of the upper lip, making them coronals, though sometimes, they behave as labial consonants.

The most common distribution between bilabials and labiodentals is the English one, in which the stops, [m], [p], and [b], are bilabial and the fricatives, [f], and [v], are labiodental. The voiceless bilabial fricative, voiced bilabial fricative, and the bilabial approximant do not exist in English, but they occur in many languages. For example, the Spanish consonant written b or v is pronounced, between vowels, as a voiced bilabial approximant.

Lip rounding, or labialization, is a common approximant-like co-articulatory feature. English /w/ is a voiced labialized velar approximant, which is far more common than the purely labial approximant [β̞]. In the languages of the Caucasus, labialized dorsals like /kʷ/ and /qʷ/ are very common.

Very few languages, however, make a distinction purely between bilabials and labiodentals, making "labial" usually a sufficient specification of a language's phonemes. One exception is Ewe, which has both kinds of fricatives, but the labiodentals are produced with greater articulatory force.

Lack of labials

While most languages make use of purely labial phonemes, a few generally lack them. Examples are Tlingit, Eyak (both Na-Dené), Wichita (Caddoan), and the Iroquoian languages except Cherokee. All of these languages have seen labials introduced under the influence of English.

Many of these languages are transcribed with /w/ and with labialized consonants. However, it is not always clear to what extent the lips are involved in such sounds. In the Iroquoian languages, for example, /w/ involved little apparent rounding of the lips. See the Tillamook language for an example of a language with "rounded" consonants and vowels that do not have any actual labialization.

See also


  • Ladefoged, Peter; Maddieson, Ian (1996). The Sounds of the World's Languages. Oxford: Blackwell. ISBN 978-0-631-19815-4.
  • McDorman, Richard E. (1999). Labial Instability in Sound Change: Explanations for the Loss of /p/. Chicago: Organizational Knowledge Press. ISBN 0-9672537-0-5.
Aimaq dialect

Aimaq or Aimaqi (Aimaq: ایماقی‎) is the dominant eastern Persian ethnolect spoken by the Aimaq people in central northwest Afghanistan (west of the Hazarajat), eastern Iran, and Tajikistan. It is close to the Khorasani and Dari varieties of Persian. The Aimaq people are thought to have a 5–15% literacy rate.

Bilabial consonant

In phonetics, a bilabial consonant is a labial consonant articulated with both lips.

Cowgill's law

Cowgill's law, named after Indo-Europeanist Warren Cowgill, refers to two unrelated sound changes, one occurring in Proto-Greek and the other in Proto-Germanic.

Grimm's law

Grimm's law (also known as the First Germanic Sound Shift or Rask's rule) is a set of statements named after Jacob Grimm and Rasmus Rask describing the Proto-Indo-European (PIE) stop consonants as they developed in Proto-Germanic (the common ancestor of the Germanic branch of the Indo-European family) in the 1st millennium BC. It establishes a set of regular correspondences between early Germanic stops and fricatives and the stop consonants of certain other centum Indo-European languages (Grimm used mostly Latin and Greek for illustration).


Hanja (Hangul: 한자; Hanja: 漢字; Korean pronunciation: [ha(ː)nt͈ɕa]) is the Korean name for Chinese characters (Chinese: 漢字; pinyin: hànzì). More specifically, it refers to those Chinese characters borrowed from Chinese and incorporated into the Korean language with Korean pronunciation. Hanja-mal or Hanja-eo (the latter is used more often) refers to words that can be written with Hanja, and hanmun (한문, 漢文) refers to Classical Chinese writing, although "Hanja" is sometimes used loosely to encompass these other concepts. Because Hanja never underwent major reform, they are almost entirely identical to traditional Chinese and kyūjitai characters, though the stroke orders for some characters are slightly different. For example, the characters 教 and 研 are written as 敎 and 硏. Only a small number of Hanja characters are modified or unique to Korean. By contrast, many of the Chinese characters currently in use in Japan and Mainland China have been simplified, and contain fewer strokes than the corresponding Hanja characters.

Although a phonetic Korean alphabet, now known as Chosŏn'gŭl or Hangul, had been created by Sejong the Great, it did not come into widespread official use until the late 19th and early 20th century. Thus, until that time it was necessary to be fluent in reading and writing Hanja in order to be literate in Korean, as the vast majority of Korean literature and most other Korean documents were written in Literary Chinese, using Hanja as its primary script. Today, a good working knowledge of Chinese characters is still important for anyone who wishes to study older texts (up to about the 1990s), or anyone who wishes to read scholarly texts in the humanities. Learning a certain number of Hanja is very helpful for understanding the etymology of Sino-Korean words, and for enlarging one's Korean vocabulary. Today, Hanja are not used to write native Korean words, which are always rendered in Hangul, and even words of Chinese origin—Hanja-eo (한자어, 漢字語)—are written with the Hangul alphabet most of the time, with the corresponding Chinese character often written next to it in order to prevent confusion with other characters or words with the same phonetics.


Kenpō (拳法) is the name of several Japanese martial arts. The word kenpō is a Japanese translation of the Chinese word "quánfǎ". This term is often informally transliterated as "kempo", as a result of applying Traditional Hepburn romanization, but failing to use a macron to indicate the long vowel. The generic nature of the term combined with its widespread, cross-cultural adoption in the martial arts community has led to many divergent definitions. The word Kenpō translates thus: "Ken" meaning 'Fist' and "Po" meaning 'Method' or 'Law' as in 'Law of gravity', a correct interpretation of the word Kenpō would be 'Fist Method', the same meaning as 'Quanfa'. However, it is often times misinterpreted as 'the Law Of The Fist' , which appeals to those looking for a more 'imposing' or aggressive sounding name.

Kxʼa languages

The Kxʼa languages, also called Ju–ǂHoan , are a language family established in 2010 linking the ǂʼAmkoe (ǂHoan) language with the ǃKung (Juu) dialect cluster, a relationship that had been suspected for a decade. Along with the Tuu languages and Khoe languages, they are one of three language families indigenous to southern Africa, which are typologically similar due to areal effects.

Kyustendil dialect

The Kyustendil dialect is a Bulgarian dialect, member of the Southwestern Bulgarian dialects, which is spoken in the region of Kyustendil in central western Bulgaria. It borders on the Transitional dialects to the north, the Dupnitsa dialect to the east and the Blagoevgrad-Petrich dialect to the south. It is closely related to the Dupnitsa dialect.


The term labial originates from Labium (Latin for "lip"), and is the adjective that describes anything of or related to lips, such as lip-like structures. Thus, it may refer to:

the lips

In linguistics, a labial consonant

In zoology, the labial scalesthe labia (genitalia)Labial (gene), a gene in Drosophila melanogaster

Labial approximant

Labial approximant is the name of a class of consonants.


Labialization is a secondary articulatory feature of sounds in some languages. Labialized sounds involve the lips while the remainder of the oral cavity produces another sound. The term is normally restricted to consonants. When vowels involve the lips, they are called rounded.

The most common labialized consonants are labialized velars. Most other labialized sounds also have simultaneous velarization, and the process may then be more precisely called labio-velarization.

In phonology, labialization may also refer to a type of assimilation process.

Linguolabial consonant

Linguolabials or apicolabials are consonants articulated by placing the tongue tip or blade against the upper lip, which is drawn downward to meet the tongue. They represent one extreme of a coronal articulatory continuum which extends from linguolabial to subapical palatal places of articulation. Cross-linguistically, linguolabial consonants are very rare, but they do not represent a particularly exotic combination of articulatory configurations, unlike click consonants or ejectives. They are found in a cluster of languages in Vanuatu, in the Kajoko dialect of Bijago in Guinea-Bissau, and in Umotína (a recently extinct Bororoan language of Brazil), Hawaiian Creole English and as paralinguistic sounds elsewhere. They are also relatively common in disordered speech, and the diacritic is specifically provided for in the extensions to the IPA.

Linguolabial consonants are transcribed in the International Phonetic Alphabet by adding the "seagull" diacritic, U+033C  ̼ COMBINING SEAGULL BELOW, to the corresponding alveolar consonant, or with the apical diacritic, U+033A  ̺ COMBINING INVERTED BRIDGE BELOW, on the corresponding bilabial consonant.

Mavea language

Mavea (also known as Mav̈ea or Mafea or Mavia) is an Oceanic language spoken on Mavea Island in Vanuatu, off the eastern coast of Espiritu Santo. It belongs to the North–Central Vanuatu linkage of Southern Oceanic. The total population of the island is approximately 172, with only 34 fluent speakers of the Mavea language reported in 2008.There are 94 languages in the North Vanuatu linkage, including Mavea. The closest linguistic relative to Mavea, sharing a little over 70% of cognates, is Tutuba. Following Tutuba, Aore, South Malok, Araki, and Tangoa are the next closest relatives.

Ukrainian phonology

This article deals with the phonology of the standard Ukrainian language.

Valyrian languages

The Valyrian languages are a fictional language family in the A Song of Ice and Fire series of fantasy novels by George R. R. Martin, and in their television adaptation Game of Thrones.

In the novels, High Valyrian and its descendant languages are often mentioned but not developed beyond a few words. For the TV series, linguist David J. Peterson created the High Valyrian language, as well as the derivative languages Astapori and Meereenese Valyrian, based on the fragments given in the novels. Valyrian and Dothraki have been described as "the most convincing fictional tongues since Elvish".


The vav-consecutive or waw-consecutive is a grammatical construction in Classical Hebrew. It involves prefixing a verb form with the letter waw in order to change its tense or aspect.

Western Neo-Aramaic

Western Neo-Aramaic is a modern Aramaic language. Today, it is spoken in three villages in the Anti-Lebanon Mountains of western Syria. Western Neo-Aramaic is the only living language among the Western Aramaic languages. All other Neo-Aramaic languages are of the Eastern Aramaic branch.

Xhosa language

Xhosa () is an Nguni Bantu language with click consonants ("Xhosa" begins with a click) and is one of the official languages of South Africa. It is also an official language of Zimbabwe. "Xhosa is spoken as a first language by 8.2 million people and by 11 million as a second language in South Africa, mostly in Eastern Cape Province. Total number of users in all countries is 19.2 million (Ethnologue)". Like most other Bantu languages, Xhosa is a tonal language; the same sequence of consonants and vowels can have different meanings, depending on intonation. Xhosa has two tones: high and low.Xhosa is written with the Latin alphabet. Three letters are used to indicate the basic clicks: c for dental clicks, x for lateral clicks and q for post-alveolar clicks (for a more detailed explanation, see the table of consonant phonemes below). Tones are not normally indicated in writing.

Zulu language

Zulu () or isiZulu (Zulu: isiZulu) is the language of the Zulu people, with about 10 million speakers, the vast majority (over 95%) of whom live in South Africa. Zulu is the most widely spoken home language in South Africa (24% of the population), and it is understood by over 50% of its population. It became one of South Africa's 11 official languages in 1994.

According to Ethnologue, it is the second most widely spoken of the Bantu languages, after Swahili. Like many other Bantu languages, it is written with the Latin alphabet.

In South African English, the language is often referred to by using its native form, isiZulu.

IPA topics

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