Tenuis alveolar click

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Tenuis alveolar velar click
k͡ǃ   k͡ʗ
ᵏǃ   ᵏʗ
ǃ   ʗ
IPA Number178
Entity (decimal)ǃ​ʗ
Unicode (hex)U+01C3 U+0297
Braille⠯ (braille pattern dots-12346)⠞ (braille pattern dots-2345)
Unicode character name for ǃ is LATIN LETTER RETROFLEX CLICK
Tenuis alveolar uvular click
q͡ǃ   q͡ʗ
𐞥ǃ   𐞥ʗ

The voiceless or more precisely tenuis (post)alveolar click is a click consonant found primarily among the languages of southern Africa. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet for a tenuis alveolar click with a velar rear articulation is k͡ǃ or k͜ǃ, commonly abbreviated to , ᵏǃ or simply ǃ; a symbol abandoned by the IPA but still preferred by some linguists is k͡ʗ or k͜ʗ, abbreviated , ᵏʗ or just ʗ. For a click with a uvular rear articulation, the equivalents are q͡ǃ, q͜ǃ, qǃ, 𐞥ǃ and q͡ʗ, q͜ʗ, qʗ, 𐞥ʗ. Sometimes the accompanying letter comes after the click letter, e.g. ǃk or ǃᵏ; this may be a simple orthographic choice, or it may imply a difference in the relative timing of the releases.[2]


Features of the tenuis (post)alveolar 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 alveolar, which means it is articulated with either the tip or the blade of the tongue at the alveolar ridge, termed respectively apical and laminal.
  • Its phonation is voiceless, unaspirated, and unglottalized, which means it is produced without vibration or constriction of the vocal cords, and any following vowel starts without significant delay.
  • It is an oral consonant, which means air is allowed to escape through the mouth only.
  • 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.


Tenuis alveolar clicks are found primarily in the various Khoisan language families of southern Africa and in some neighboring Bantu languages.

Language Word IPA Meaning
Hadza laqo [lak͜ǃo] = [laᵏʗo] 'to trip'
Khoekhoe ǃgabe [k͜ǃȁwé] = [ᵏʗȁwé] 'to speak a Khoisan language'
Sesotho ho qoqa [hʊk͜ǃɔk͜ǃɑ] = [hʊᵏʗɔᵏʗɑ] 'to chat'
Xhosa iqanda [ik͜ǃanda] = [iᵏʗanda] 'egg'
Zulu iqaqa [íːk͜ǃaːk͜ǃá] = [íːᵏʗaːᵏʗá] 'polecat'


  1. ^ Kirshenbaum assigns ⟨c!⟩ indifferently to both alveolar and palatal clicks.
  2. ^ Afrika und Übersee. D. Reimer. 2005. pp. 93–94.