Nasal release

In phonetics, a nasal release is the release of a stop consonant into a nasal. Such sounds are transcribed in the IPA with superscript nasal letters, for example as [tⁿ] in English catnip [ˈkætⁿnɪp]. In English words such as sudden in which historically the tongue made separate contacts with the alveolar ridge for the /d/ and /n/, [ˈsʌdən], many speakers today make only one contact. That is, the /d/ is released directly into the /n/: [ˈsʌdⁿn̩]. Although this is a minor phonetic detail in English (in fact, it is commonly transcribed as having no audible release: [ˈkæt̚nɪp], [ˈsʌd̚n̩]), nasal release is more important in some other languages.

Nasal release
IPA number425
Entity (decimal)ⁿ
Unicode (hex)U+207F

Prestopped nasals

In some languages, such consonants may occur before vowels and are called prestopped nasals.

Prestopped nasals and prenasalized stops occur when the oral cavity is closed and the nasal cavity is opened by lowering the velum, but the timing of both events does not coincide. A prenasalized stop starts out with a lowered velum that raises during the occlusion, much like the [nd] in candy. A postnasalized stop or prestopped nasal begins with a raised velum that lowers during the occlusion. That causes an audible nasal release, as in English sudden.

The Slavic languages are most famous for having (non-phonemic) prestopped nasals. That can be seen in place names such as the Dniester River. The Russian word for "day", for example, is inflected день, дня, дни, дней [dʲenʲ, dnʲæ, dnʲi, dnʲej], "day, day's, days, days'".

Prestopped nasals area also found in Australia. Eastern Arrernte has both prenasalized stops and prestopped nasals, but it does not have word-initial consonant clusters. Compare [mʷaɻə] "good" (with nasal stop), [ᵐbʷaɻə] "make" (with prenasalized stop), [ᵖmʷaɻə] "coolamon" (with prestopped nasal).

There is little or no phonetic difference between a "prenasalized stop" (/ⁿd/) and a cluster (/nd/). It is similar for prestopped nasals. The difference is essentially one of phonological analysis. For example, languages with word-initial /nd/ (or /ⁿd/) but no other word-initial clusters, will often be analyzed as having a unitary prenasalized stop rather than a cluster of nasal + stop. For some languages, it is claimed that a difference exists (often medially) between /ⁿd/ and /nd/. Even in such cases, however, alternative analyses are possible. Ladefoged and Maddieson[1] investigated one such claimed case and concluded that the two sounds were better analyzed as /nd/ and /nnd/, respectively.

Final consonants with nasal release

However, some languages such as Vietnamese and Malay, which are generally described as having no audible release in final stops, actually have a short nasal release in such cases. Since all final stops in these two languages are voiceless, the nasal release is voiceless as well.

Although the difference is commonly chalked up to aspiration, final nasal release is contrastive in Wolof:[2]

Contrasting releases in Wolof
Nasal release Aspirated release
[lapᵐ̥] 'to drown' [lapʰ] 'to be thin'
[ɡɔkᵑ̊] 'bridle rope' [ɡɔkʰ] 'white chalk'

See also


  1. ^ Ladefoged, Peter and Ian Maddieson. The Sounds of the World's Languages.
  2. ^ Principles of Phonetics, p. 362. John Laver, Cambridge University Press, 1994.
Amuzgo language

Amuzgo is an Oto-Manguean language spoken in the Costa Chica region of the Mexican states of Guerrero and Oaxaca by about 44,000 speakers. Like other Oto-Manguean languages, Amuzgo is a tonal language. From syntactical point of view Amuzgo can be considered as an active language. The name Amuzgo is claimed to be a Nahuatl exonym but its meaning is shrouded in controversy; multiple proposals have been made, including [amoʃ-ko] 'moss-in'.A significant percentage of the Amuzgo speakers are monolingual; the remainder also speak Spanish.

Four varieties of Amuzgo are officially recognized by the governmental agency, the Instituto Nacional de Lenguas Indígenas (INALI). They are:

(i) Northern Amuzgo (amuzgo del norte, commonly known as Guerrero or (from its major town) Xochistlahuaca Amuzgo);

(ii) Southern Amuzgo (amuzgo del sur, heretofore classified as a subdialect of Northern Amuzgo);

(iii) Upper Eastern Amuzgo (amuzgo alto del este, commonly known as Oaxaca Amuzgo or San Pedro Amuzgos Amuzgo);

(iv) Lower Eastern Amuzgo (amuzgo bajo del este, commonly known as Ipalapa Amuzgo).These varieties are very similar, but there is a significant difference between western varieties (Northern and Southern) and eastern varieties (Upper Eastern and Lower Eastern), as revealed by recorded text testing done in the 1970s.Three dictionaries have been published for Upper Eastern Amuzgo in recent years. For Northern Amuzgo, no dictionary has yet been published, yet it too is very actively written. Lower Eastern Amuzgo and Southern Amuzgo (spoken in Huixtepec (Ometepec), for example) are still not well documented, but work is underway.

While the Mixtecan subdivision may indeed be the closest to Amuzgo within Oto-Manguean, earlier claims that Amuzgo is part of it have been contested.

Contour (linguistics)

In phonetics, contour describes speech sounds which behave as single segments, but which make an internal transition from one quality, place, or manner to another. These sounds may be tones, vowels, or consonants.

Many tone languages have contour tones, which move from one level to another. For example, Mandarin Chinese has four lexical tones. The high tone is level, without contour; the falling tone is a contour from high pitch to low; the rising tone a contour from mid pitch to high, and, when spoken in isolation, the low tone takes on a dipping contour, mid to low and then to high pitch. These are transcribed with series of either diacritics or tone letters, which with proper font support fuse into an iconic shape: [ma˨˩˦].

In the case of vowels, the word diphthong is used instead of 'contour'. These are vowels that glide from one place of articulation to another, as in English boy and bow. These are officially transcribed with a non-syllabic sign under one of the vowel letters: [bɔɪ̯], [baʊ̯], though when there is no chance of confusion, the diacritic is often left off for simplicity.

The most common contour consonants by far are the affricates, such as English ch and j. These start out as one manner, a stop, and release into a different manner, a fricative, but behave as single consonants: [t͡ʃ], [d͡ʒ]. Other types of transition are attested in consonants, such as prenasalized stops in many African languages and nasal release in Slavic languages, the retroflex trill [ɽ͡r] of Toda, the trilled affricate [ʈ͡r] of Fijian, voicing contours [d͡tʰ], [ɡ͡k͡xʼ] in ǃXóõ, and even click contours (airstream contours) in Khoisan languages such as Nǁng, which start with a lingual (velaric) airstream mechanism and release with either a pulmonic mechanism (linguo-pulmonic clicks such as [ǃ͡q], [ǂ͡χ]) or an ejective mechanism (linguo-glottalic clicks such as [ǃʼ], [ǂ͡χʼ]).

International Phonetic Alphabet

The International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) is an alphabetic system of phonetic notation based primarily on the Latin alphabet. It was devised by the International Phonetic Association in the late 19th century as a standardized representation of the sounds of spoken language. The IPA is used by lexicographers, foreign language students and teachers, linguists, speech-language pathologists, singers, actors, constructed language creators and translators.The IPA is designed to represent only those qualities of speech that are part of oral language: phones, phonemes, intonation and the separation of words and syllables. To represent additional qualities of speech, such as tooth gnashing, lisping, and sounds made with a cleft lip and cleft palate, an extended set of symbols, the extensions to the International Phonetic Alphabet, may be used.IPA symbols are composed of one or more elements of two basic types, letters and diacritics. For example, the sound of the English letter ⟨t⟩ may be transcribed in IPA with a single letter, [t], or with a letter plus diacritics, [t̺ʰ], depending on how precise one wishes to be. Often, slashes are used to signal broad or phonemic transcription; thus, /t/ is less specific than, and could refer to, either [t̺ʰ] or [t], depending on the context and language.

Occasionally letters or diacritics are added, removed or modified by the International Phonetic Association. As of the most recent change in 2005, there are 107 letters, 52 diacritics and four prosodic marks in the IPA. These are shown in the current IPA chart, posted below in this article and at the website of the IPA.

International Phonetic Alphabet chart

The following is the chart of the International Phonetic Alphabet, a standardized system of phonetic symbols devised and maintained by the International Phonetic Association.

Lateral release (phonetics)

In phonetics, a lateral release is the release of a plosive consonant into a lateral consonant. Such sounds are transcribed in the IPA with a superscript ⟨l⟩, for example as [tˡ] in English spotless [ˈspɒtˡlɨs]. In English words such as middle in which, historically, the tongue made separate contacts with the alveolar ridge for the /d/ and /l/, [ˈmɪdəl], many speakers today make only one tongue contact. That is, the /d/ is laterally released directly into the /l/: [ˈmɪdˡl̩]. While this is a minor phonetic detail in English (in fact, it is commonly transcribed as having no audible release: [ˈspɒt̚lɨs], [ˈmɪd̚l̩]), it may be more important in other languages.

In most languages (as in English), laterally-released plosives are straightforwardly analyzed as biphonemic clusters whose second element is /l/. In the Hmong language, however, it is sometimes claimed that laterally-released consonants are unitary phonemes. According to Peter Ladefoged and Ian Maddieson, the choice between one or another analysis is purely based on phonological convenience—there is no actual acoustic or articulatory difference between one language's "laterally-released plosive" and another language's biphonemic cluster.

Mbula language

Mbula (also known as Mangap-Mbula, Mangaaba, Mangaawa, Mangaava, Kaimanga) is an Austronesian language spoken by around 2,500 people on Umboi Island and Sakar Island in the Morobe Province of Papua New Guinea. Its basic word order is subject–verb–object; it has a nominative–accusative case-marking strategy.


N (named en ) is the fourteenth letter in the modern English alphabet and the ISO basic Latin alphabet.


In phonetics, nasalization (or nasalisation) is the production of a sound while the velum is lowered, so that some air escapes through the nose during the production of the sound by the mouth. An archetypal nasal sound is [n].

In the International Phonetic Alphabet, nasalization is indicated by printing a tilde diacritic U+0303 ◌̃ COMBINING TILDE (HTML ̃) above the symbol for the sound to be nasalized: [ã] is the nasalized equivalent of [a], and [ṽ] is the nasalized equivalent of [v]. A subscript diacritic [ą], called an ogonek or nosinė, is sometimes seen, especially when the vowel bears tone marks that would interfere with the superscript tilde. For example, [ą̄ ą́ ą̀ ą̂ ą̌] are more legible in most fonts than [ã̄ ã́ ã̀ ã̂ ã̌].

Phonetic symbols in Unicode

Unicode supports several phonetic scripts and notations through the existing writing systems and the addition of extra blocks with phonetic characters. These phonetic extras are derived of an existing script, usually Latin, Greek or Cyrillic. In Unicode there is no "IPA script". Apart from IPA, extensions to the IPA and obsolete and nonstandard IPA symbols, these blocks also contain characters from the Uralic Phonetic Alphabet and the Americanist Phonetic Alphabet.

Pre-stopped consonant

In linguistics, pre-stopping, also known as pre-occlusion or pre-plosion, is a phonological process involving the historical or allophonic insertion of a very short stop consonant before a sonorant, such as a short [d] before a nasal [n] or a lateral [l]. The resulting sounds ([ᵈn, ᵈl]) are called pre-stopped consonants, or sometimes pre-ploded or (in Celtic linguistics) pre-occluded consonants, although technically [n] may be considered an occlusive/stop without the pre-occlusion.

A pre-stopped consonant behaves phonologically as a single consonant. That is, like affricates and trilled affricates, the reasons for considering these sequences to be single consonants lies primarily in their behavior. Phonetically they are similar or equivalent to stops with a nasal or lateral release.

Stop consonant

In phonetics, a stop, also known as a plosive or oral occlusive, is a consonant in which the vocal tract is blocked so that all airflow ceases.

The occlusion may be made with the tongue blade ([t], [d]) or body ([k], [ɡ]), lips ([p], [b]), or glottis ([ʔ]). Stops contrast with nasals, where the vocal tract is blocked but airflow continues through the nose, as in /m/ and /n/, and with fricatives, where partial occlusion impedes but does not block airflow in the vocal tract.

Superior letter

In typography and handwriting, a superior letter is a lower-case letter placed above the baseline and made smaller than ordinary script. The style has traditionally been distinct from superscript. Formerly quite common in abbreviations, the original purpose was to make handwritten abbreviations clearly distinct from normal words. These could also be used to enable the important words on signs to be larger. In technical terms, the superior letter can also be called the superscripted minuscule letter. In modern usage, with word processors and text entry interfaces, superscript and superior letters are produced in the same way and look identical, and their distinction would refer to their usage and not to their form.

With the coming of printing, pieces of type were cast to enable them to appear in print. These are still commonly used in French, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish, though their appearance in English has diminished. Not every letter in the alphabet has a piece of type cast for it as a superior letter. In the book Thinking in Type, by Alex W. White, it is stated that there are only twelve superior letters used in French and Spanish: a, b, d, e, i, l, m, n, o, r, s, and t. In English, however, 'h' is also sometimes rendered as a superior letter, as in 6th.

Unreleased stop

A stop with no audible release, also known as an unreleased stop or an applosive, is a stop consonant with no release burst: no audible indication of the end of its occlusion (hold). In the International Phonetic Alphabet, lack of an audible release is denoted with an upper-right corner diacritic (U+031A ◌̚ COMBINING LEFT ANGLE ABOVE (HTML ̚)) after the consonant letter: [p̚], [t̚], [k̚].Audibly released stops, on the other hand, are not normally indicated. If a final stop is aspirated, the aspiration diacritic ⟨◌ʰ⟩ is sufficient to indicate the release. Otherwise, the "unaspirated" diacritic of the Extended IPA may be employed for this: apt [ˈæp̚t˭].

Vietnamese phonology

This article is a technical description of the sound system of the Vietnamese language, including phonetics and phonology. Two main varieties of Vietnamese, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), are described below.


The Extended Speech Assessment Methods Phonetic Alphabet (X-SAMPA; , /%Eks"s{mp@/) is a variant of SAMPA developed in 1995 by John C. Wells, professor of phonetics at the University of London. It is designed to unify the individual language SAMPA alphabets, and extend SAMPA to cover the entire range of characters in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA). The result is a SAMPA-inspired remapping of the IPA into 7-bit ASCII.

SAMPA was devised as a hack to work around the inability of text encodings to represent IPA symbols. Later, as Unicode support for IPA symbols became more widespread, the necessity for a separate, computer-readable system for representing the IPA in ASCII decreased. However, X-SAMPA is still useful as the basis for an input method for true IPA.

Yele language

The Yele language, or Yélî Dnye, is the language of Rossel Island, the easternmost island in the Louisiade Archipelago off the eastern tip of Papua New Guinea. There were some 4,000 speakers in 1998, comprising the entire ethnic population. For now it is best considered unclassified. It has been classified as a tentative language isolate that may turn out to be related to the Anêm and Ata language isolates of New Britain (in a tentative Yele – West New Britain family), and alternatively as closest to Sudest in the Papuan Tip languages of the Oceanic family. Typologically it is more similar to the Oceanic languages of southern New Guinea than to the isolates of New Britain.

Yele has been studied extensively by cognitive linguists. It has an extensive set of spatial postpositions. Yele has eleven postpositions equivalent to English on; using different ones depending factors such as whether the object is on a table (horizontal), a wall (vertical), or atop a peak; whether or not it is attached to the surface; and whether it is solid or granular (distributed).

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