Voiceless retroflex implosive

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Voiceless alveolar implosive

A voiceless retroflex implosive is an extremely rare consonantal sound, used in very few spoken languages. There is no official symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound, but ᶑ̊ or ʈʼ↓ may be used, or the old convention 𝼉 (ƭ̢).


Features of the voiceless retroflex implosive:

  • Its manner of articulation is occlusive, which means it is produced by obstructing airflow in the vocal tract. Since the consonant is also oral, with no nasal outlet, the airflow is blocked entirely, and the consonant is a plosive.
  • 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, which means it is produced without vibrations of the vocal cords.
  • 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 airstream mechanism is implosive (glottalic ingressive), which means it is produced by pulling air in by pumping the glottis downward. As it is voiceless, the glottis is completely closed, and there is no pulmonic airstream at all.


A rare and evidently unstable sound, [ᶑ̥] has been described in Oromo of Ethiopia,[1] and Ngiti of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.[2]

Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Oromo[1] haadha [hɑːᶑ̥ɐ] 'mother' [ᶑ̥] is mostly likely voiced [ᶑ], and may weaken into /ɽ/ in intervocalic positions.[3] See Oromo language.
Ngiti[4] [example needed]


  1. ^ a b Dissassa (1980) Some aspects of Oromo phonology, p. 10–11
  2. ^ Kutsch Lojenga, Constance (1994). Ngiti: a Central-Sudanic language of Zaire (PhD). Köln: Rüdiger Köppe Verlag. p. 31.
  3. ^ Lloret (1997), p. 500
  4. ^ Kutsch Lojenga, Constance (1994). Ngiti: a Central-Sudanic language of Zaire (PhD). Köln: Rüdiger Köppe Verlag.

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