Nasal dental click

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Nasal dental velar click
ŋ͡ǀ   ŋ͡ʇ
ᵑǀ   ᵑʇ
ǀ̃   ʇ̃
Nasal dental uvular click
ɴ͡ǀ   ɴ͡ʇ
ᶰǀ   ᶰʇ

The dental nasal click is a click consonant found primarily among the languages of southern Africa.[1] The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet for a nasal dental click with a velar rear articulation is ŋ͡ǀ or ŋ͜ǀ, commonly abbreviated to ŋǀ, ᵑǀ or ǀ̃; a symbol abandoned by the IPA but still preferred by some linguists is ŋ͡ʇ or ŋ͜ʇ, abbreviated ŋʇ, ᵑʇ or ʇ̃. For a click with a uvular rear articulation, the equivalents are ɴ͡ǀ, ɴ͜ǀ, ɴǀ, ᶰǀ and ɴ͡ʇ, ɴ͜ʇ, ɴʇ, ᶰʇ. Sometimes the accompanying letter comes after the click letter, e.g. ǀŋ or ǀᵑ; this may be a simple orthographic choice, or it may imply a difference in the relative timing of the releases.[2]


Features of the dental nasal click:

  • The airstream mechanism is lingual ingressive (also known as velaric ingressive), which means a pocket of air trapped between two closures is rarefied by a "sucking" action of the tongue, rather than being moved by the glottis or the lungs/diaphragm. The release of the forward closure produces the "click" sound. Voiced and nasal clicks have a simultaneous pulmonic egressive airstream.
  • Its place of articulation is dental, which means it is articulated with either the tip or the blade of the tongue at the upper teeth, termed respectively apical and laminal. Note that most stops and liquids described as dental are actually denti-alveolar.
  • Its phonation is voiced, which means the vocal cords vibrate during the articulation.
  • It is a nasal consonant, which means air is allowed to escape through the nose, either exclusively (nasal stops) or in addition to through the mouth.
  • It is a central consonant, which means it is produced by directing the airstream along the center of the tongue, rather than to the sides.


Dental nasal clicks are found primarily in the various Khoisan language families of southern Africa and in some neighboring Bantu languages, such as Yeyi and Fwe.[3][4]

Language Word IPA Meaning
Hadza minca [miᵑǀa] = [miᵑʇa] 'to smack one's lips'
Khoekhoe ǀnam [ᵑǀȁm̀] = [ᵑʇȁm̀] 'to love'
Zulu incwancwa [iᵑǀwáːᵑǀwa] = [iᵑʇwáːᵑʇwa] 'sour corn meal'

Glottalized dental nasal click[edit]

dental nasal velar click

All Khoisan languages, and a few Bantu languages, have glottalized nasal clicks. These are formed by closing the glottis so that the click is pronounced in silence; however, any preceding vowel will be nasalized.

Language Word IPA Meaning
Hadza tacce [taᵑǀˀe] = [taᵑʇˀe] 'rope'
Khoekhoe ǀoroǀoro [ᵑǀˀòɾőᵑǀˀòɾȍ] = [ᵑʇˀòɾőᵑʇˀòɾȍ] 'to wear s.t. out'
Naro Xgaoc’õ [ᵏǁχao̯ᵑǀˀõ] = [ᵏʖχao̯ᵑʇˀõ] (personal name)
Xhosa umchankcatho [umᵏǀʰaᵑǀˀatʰo] = [umᵏʇʰaᵑʇˀatʰo] 'a bridge'


  1. ^ NetCommons (2017-03-24). "VOT and F0 in Zulu Dental Clicks and Alveolar Plosives" (in Japanese). {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  2. ^ Afrika und Übersee. D. Reimer. 2005. pp. 93–94.
  3. ^ Gunnink, Hilde (2020-09-10). "Click Loss and Click Insertion in Fwe". Click Consonants: 156–178. doi:10.1163/9789004424357_005.
  4. ^ Fulop, Sean A.; Ladefoged, Peter; Liu, Fang; Vossen, Rainer (2003-12-01). "Yeyi Clicks: Acoustic Description and Analysis". Phonetica. 60 (4): 231–260. doi:10.1159/000076375. ISSN 1423-0321.