Nasal labial–velar approximant

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Nasal labial–velar approximant

The nasal labial–velar approximant is a type of consonantal sound used in some languages. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is , that is, a w with a tilde. The equivalent X-SAMPA symbol is w~.

The nasal approximants [ȷ̃] and [w̃] may also be called nasal glides. In some languages like Portuguese, they form a second element of nasal diphthongs.


Features of the nasal labial–velar approximant:

  • Its manner of articulation is approximant, which means it is produced by narrowing the vocal tract at the place of articulation, but not enough to produce a turbulent airstream.
  • Its place of articulation is labial–velar, which means it is simultaneously articulated with the lips and with the back part of the tongue (the dorsum) against the soft palate (the velum). The dorsal closure is made and released slightly before the labial closure, but they overlap for most of their duration.
  • 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.
  • The airstream mechanism is pulmonic, which means it is articulated by pushing air solely with the intercostal muscles and diaphragm, as in most sounds.


Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Kaingang[1] [w̃ĩ] 'to see' Possible word-initial realization of /w/ before a nasal vowel.[2]
Polish są [sɔũ̯] 'they are' See Polish phonology
Portuguese Most dialects[3][4] o [sɐ̃w̃] 'saint' Allophone of /w/ after nasal vowels. See Portuguese phonology
Some dialects[5] muamba [ˈmw̃ɐ̃bɐ] 'smuggling', 'jobbery',
Non-syllabic allophone of /u/ between nasal sounds.
Marathi संशय [sə̃w̃ʃəe̯] 'doubt' Anuswara (ṁ) preceding र (r), व (v), श (ś), ष (ṣ), स (s), ह (h) or ज्ञ (jñ/dnya) is rendered as 'w̃'.
Seri cmiique [ˈkw̃ĩːkːɛ] 'person' Allophone of /m/
Shipibo[6] banwan[7] [βɐ̃ˈw̃ɐ̃] 'parrot' Allophone of /w/ after nasal vowels.[6]
Tamil Brahmin Dialect உலகம் [uläxäw̃] 'world' Terminal 'am' being allophonic to 'aw̃' in colloquial Brahmin dialect of Tamil.
Uwa aya [ˈtaw̃aja] 'yellow'
Yoruba wọ́n [w̃ɔ̃́n] 'they' Allophone of /w/ before nasal vowels.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Jolkesky (2009:676, 681)
  2. ^ Jolkesky (2009:681)
  3. ^ Cruz-Ferreira (1995:127)
  4. ^ Bisol (2005:179)
  5. ^ Portuguese vinho: diachronic evidence for biphonemic nasal vowels
  6. ^ a b Valenzuela, Márquez Pinedo & Maddieson (2001:283)
  7. ^ "Shipibo language, alphabet and pronunciation". Retrieved 2019-11-27.


External links[edit]