Dental click

Dental click
(plain velar)
IPA Number177, 201
Audio sample
Entity (decimal)ǀ​ʇ
Unicode (hex)U+01C0 U+0287
Braille⠯ (braille pattern dots-12346)⠹ (braille pattern dots-1456)
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Voiced dental click
ᶢǀ ᵈǀ
Preview warning: Page using Template:Infobox IPA with unknown parameter "kirshenbaum"
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Dental nasal click
ᵑǀ ⁿǀ
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Preview warning: Page using Template:Infobox IPA with unknown parameter "showbelow"

Dental (or more precisely denti-alveolar)[1] clicks are a family of click consonants found, as constituents of words, only in Africa and in the Damin ritual jargon of Australia.

In English, the tut-tut! (British spelling, "tutting") or tsk! tsk! (American spelling, "tsking") sound used to express disapproval or pity is an unreleased[2] dental click, although it is not a lexical phoneme (a sound that distinguishes words) in English but a paralinguistic speech-sound. Similarly paralinguistic usage of dental clicks is made in certain other languages, but the meaning thereof differs widely between many of the languages (e.g., affirmation in Somali but negation in many varieties of Arabic).[3]

The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents the place of articulation of these sounds is ⟨ǀ⟩, a vertical bar. Prior to 1989, ⟨ʇ⟩ was the IPA letter for the dental clicks. It is still occasionally used where the symbol ⟨ǀ⟩ would be confounded with other symbols, such as prosody marks, or simply because in many fonts the vertical bar is indistinguishable from an el or capital i.[4] Either letter may be combined with a second letter to indicate the manner of articulation, though this is commonly omitted for tenuis clicks.

In official IPA transcription, the click letter is combined with a ⟨k ɡ ŋ q ɢ ɴ⟩ via a tie bar, though ⟨k⟩ is frequently omitted. Many authors instead use a superscript ⟨k ɡ ŋ q ɢ ɴ⟩ without the tie bar, again often neglecting the ⟨k⟩. Either letter, whether baseline or superscript, is usually placed before the click letter, but may come after when the release of the velar or uvular occlusion is audible. A third convention is the click letter with diacritics for voicelessness, voicing and nasalization; it does not distinguish velar from uvular dental clicks. Common dental clicks are:

Trans. I Trans. II Trans. III Description
k͜ǀ ᵏǀ ǀ tenuis dental click
k͜ǀʰ ᵏǀʰ ǀʰ aspirated dental click
ɡ͜ǀ ᶢǀ ǀ̬ voiced dental click
ŋ͜ǀ ᵑǀ ǀ̃ dental nasal click
ŋ͜ǀ̥ʰʰ ᵑǀ̥ʰʰ ǀ̥̃ʰʰ aspirated dental nasal click
ŋ͜ǀˀ ᵑǀˀ ǀ̃ˀ glottalized dental nasal click
q͜ǀ 𐞥ǀ tenuis dental click
q͜ǀʰ 𐞥ǀʰ aspirated dental click
ɢ͜ǀ 𐞒ǀ voiced dental click
ɴ͜ǀ ᶰǀ dental nasal click
ɴ͜ǀ̥ʰʰ ᶰǀ̥ʰʰ aspirated dental nasal click
ɴ͜ǀˀ ᶰǀˀ glottalized dental nasal click

The last is what is heard in the sound sample at right, as non-native speakers tend to glottalize clicks to avoid nasalizing them.

In the orthographies of individual languages, the letters and digraphs for dental clicks may be based on either the vertical bar symbol of the IPA, ⟨ǀ⟩, or on the Latin ⟨c⟩ of Bantu convention. Nama and most Saan languages use the former; Naro, Sandawe, and Zulu use the latter.

  1. ^ Ladefoged & Traill, 1984:18
  2. ^ In the English sound, the velar closure is not released, unlike the released sound found in languages that combine clicks with vowels.
  3. ^ Cite error: The named reference WALS was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  4. ^ John Wells, 2011. Vertical lines. Compare the vertical bar, ⟨ǀ⟩, with ⟨|⟩, ⟨l⟩, and ⟨I⟩ (unformatted ⟨ǀ⟩, ⟨|⟩, ⟨l⟩, ⟨I⟩).

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