Tenuis retroflex click

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Tenuis retroflex velar click
k͡𝼊   k͡‼
ᵏ𝼊   ᵏ‼
Tenuis retroflex uvular click
q͡𝼊   q͡‼
𐞥𝼊   𐞥‼

The voiceless or more precisely tenuis retroflex click is a rare click consonant. In practical orthography, an ad hoc symbol is used for the retroflex clicks; a tenuis click with a velar rear articulation is k͡‼ or k͜‼, commonly abbreviated to k‼, ᵏ‼ or just . The implicit symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet is k͡𝼊 or k͜𝼊, abbreviated k𝼊, ᵏ𝼊 or just 𝼊.[1] Linguists who prefer the old IPA letters use the analogous Doke convention[2] of k͡ψ or k͜ψ, abbreviated , ᵏψ or ψ. For a click with a uvular rear articulation, the equivalents are q͡‼, q͜‼, q‼, 𐞥‼, q͡𝼊, q͜𝼊, q𝼊, 𐞥𝼊 and q͡ψ, q͜ψ, qψ, 𐞥ψ. Sometimes the accompanying letter comes after the click letter, e.g. 𝼊k or 𝼊ᵏ; this may be a simple orthographic choice, or it may imply a difference in the relative timing of the releases.[3]


Features of the tenuis retroflex 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 retroflex, which prototypically means it is articulated subapical (with the tip of the tongue curled up), but more generally, it means that it is postalveolar without being palatalized. That is, besides the prototypical subapical articulation, the tongue contact can be apical (pointed) or laminal (flat).
  • 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.


The tenuis retroflex click is only confirmed from a single language, Central !Kung.[4]

Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Central !Kung [example needed]


  1. ^ Kirk Miller; Bonny Sands (1 July 2020). "Unicode proposal L2/20-115R: Unicode request for additional phonetic click letters" (PDF).
  2. ^ Doke, Clement M. (1925). "An outline of the phonetics of the language of the ʗhũ: Bushman of the North-West Kalahari". Bantu Studies. 2: 129–166. doi:10.1080/02561751.1923.9676181.
  3. ^ Afrika und Übersee. D. Reimer. 2005. pp. 93–94.
  4. ^ Scott, Abigail; Miller, Amanda; Namaseb, Levi; Sands, Bonny; Shah, Sheena (June 2, 2010). "Retroflex Clicks in Two Dialects of ǃXung". University of Botswana, Department of African Languages.