Voiced uvular nasal

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Voiced uvular nasal
IPA Number120
Audio sample
Entity (decimal)ɴ
Unicode (hex)U+0274
Braille⠔ (braille pattern dots-35)⠝ (braille pattern dots-1345)

The voiced uvular nasal is a type of consonantal sound, used in some spoken languages. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is ɴ, a small capital version of the Latin letter n; the equivalent X-SAMPA symbol is N\.

The uvular nasal is a rare sound cross-linguistically, occurring as a phoneme in only a small handful of languages. It is complex in terms of articulation, and also highly marked, as it is inherently difficult to produce a nasal articulation at the uvular point of contact.[1] This difficulty can be said to account for the marked rarity of this sound among the world's languages.[1]

The uvular nasal most commonly occurs as a conditioned allophone of other sounds,[2] for example as an allophone of /n/ before a uvular plosive as in Quechua, or as an allophone of /q/ before another nasal consonant as in Selkup. However, it has been reported to exist as an independent phoneme in a small number of languages. Examples include the Klallam language, Tagalog language the Tawellemmet and Ayr varieties of Tuareg Berber,[3] the Rangakha dialect of Khams Tibetan,[4] at least two dialects of the Bai language,[5][6] the Papuan language Mapos Buang,[7] and the Chamdo languages: Lamo (Kyilwa dialect), Larong sMar (Tangre Chaya dialect), Drag-yab sMar (Razi dialect).[8] In Mapos Buang and in the Bai dialects, it contrasts phonemically with a velar nasal.[5][6][7] In the Chamdo languages it contrasts phonemically with /ŋ/, /ŋ̊/, and /ɴ̥/.[8] The syllable-final nasal in Japanese was traditionally said to be realized as a uvular nasal when utterance-final, but empirical studies have disputed this claim.[9]

There is also the pre-uvular nasal[10] in some languages such as Yanyuwa, which is articulated slightly more front compared with the place of articulation of the prototypical uvular nasal, though not as front as the prototypical velar nasal. The International Phonetic Alphabet does not have a separate symbol for that sound, though it can be transcribed as ɴ̟ (advanced ɴ), ŋ̠ or ŋ˗ (both symbols denote a retracted ŋ). The equivalent X-SAMPA symbols are N\_+ and N_-, respectively.


Features of the voiced uvular nasal:


Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Afrikaans Many speakers aangenaam [ˈɑːɴχənɑːm] 'pleasant' Allophone of /n/ before /χ/; realized as [n] in formal speech. See Afrikaans phonology
Arabic Standard انقلاب/inqilāb [ˌɪɴ.qɪˈlæːb] 'coup' Allophone of /n/ before /q/; more commonly realized as [n].
Armenian անխելք/ankhelk´ [ɑɴˈχɛlkʰ] 'brainless' Allophone of /n/ before a uvular consonant in informal speech.
Bai Enqi dialect[6] [ɴa˨˩] 'to walk' Phonemic, and contrasts with /ŋ/.
Luobenzhuo dialect[5] 我/nò [ɴɔ˦˨] 'I' Phonemic, and contrasts with /ŋ/.
Bashkir haң/nañ [nɑɴ] 'wilderness' Allophone of /ŋ/ in back vowel contexts.
Dutch Netherlandic aangenaam [ˈaːɴχəˌnaːm] 'pleasant' Allophone of /n/ and /ŋ/ in dialects that use [χ]. Can be realized as [n] in formal speech.
Georgian ზიყი/zinq'i [ziɴqʼi] 'hip joint' Allophone of /n/ before uvular consonants.
Iñupiaq North Slope iḷisaġniaqtuq [iʎsaʁɴiaqtuq] 'he will study' See Iñupiaq language.
Inuvialuktun namunganmun [namuŋaɴmuɴ] 'to where?' See Inuit phonology
Kalaallisut paarngorpoq [pɑːɴːɔpːɔq] 'crawls' See Greenlandic phonology
Klallam sqəyáyŋəxʷ [sqəˈjajɴəxʷ] 'big tree' Contrasts with glottalized form.
Lamo [ɴʷɚ̰˥] 'five' Contrasts with /ŋ/, /ŋ̊/, and /ɴ̥/.
Mapos Buang[7] alu [aˈl̪uɴ] 'widower' Phonemic, and contrasts with /ŋ/.
Quechua Peruvian sunqu [ˈs̠oɴqo] 'heart' Allophone of /n/.
Spanish[11] enjuto [ẽ̞ɴˈχuto̞] 'shriveled' Allophone of /n/. See Spanish phonology
Turkmen jaň [dʒɑɴ] 'bell' Allophone of /ŋ/ next to back vowels
Yanyuwa[12] wangulu [waŋ̠ulu] 'adolescent boy' Pre-uvular; contrasts with post-palatal [ŋ˖].[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Johnson, Marion (1978). "A note on the Inuit uvular nasal". Études/Inuit/Studies. 2 (1): 132–135.
  2. ^ Bobaljik, Jonathan David (October 1996). "Assimilation in the Inuit Languages and the Place of the Uvular Nasal". International Journal of American Linguistics. The University of Chicago Press. 62 (4): 323–350. doi:10.1086/466303. JSTOR 1265705. S2CID 144140916.
  3. ^ Karl Prasse, Ghoubeid Alojaly, and Ghabdouane Mohamed (1998). Lexique touareg-français. Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum Press.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  4. ^ Suzuki, Hiroyuki (2007). "Khams Tibetan Rangakha dialect: phonetic analysis (in Japanese)" (PDF). Asian and African Languages and Linguistics (2): 131–162.
  5. ^ a b c Allen, Bryan (August 2007). "Bai Dialect Survey". SIL Electronic Survey Report 2007-012. CiteSeerX
  6. ^ a b c Feng, Wang (2006). "Comparison of Languages in Contact: The Distillation Method and the Case of Bai" (PDF). Language and Linguistics Monograph Series B. Frontiers in Linguistics III.
  7. ^ a b c Hooley; Rambok, Bruce; Mose Lung (2010). Ḳapiya Tateḳin Buang Vuheng-atov Ayej = Central Buang–English Dictionary. Summer Institute of Linguistics, Papua New Guinea Branch. ISBN 978-9980035899.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  8. ^ a b Suzuki, Hiroyuki and Tashi Nyima. 2018. Historical relationship among three non-Tibetic languages in Chamdo, TAR. Proceedings of the 51st International Conference on Sino-Tibetan Languages and Linguistics (2018). Kyoto: Kyoto University.
  9. ^ Maekawa (2023).
  10. ^ Instead of "pre-uvular", it can be called "advanced uvular", "fronted uvular", "post-velar", "retracted velar" or "backed velar". For simplicity, this article uses only the term "pre-uvular".
  11. ^ Martínez Celdrán, Fernández Planas & Carrera Sabaté (2003), p. 258.
  12. ^ a b Ladefoged & Maddieson (1996), pp. 34–35.


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