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Epiglottal consonant

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Title: Epiglottal consonant  
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Subject: Click consonant, Chechen language, Pharyngealization, Voiceless pharyngeal fricative, List of consonants, Trill consonant, Index of phonetics articles, Pharyngeal consonant, Lezgian language, Hadza language
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Epiglottal consonant

Tongue shape

An epiglottal consonant is a consonant that is articulated with the aryepiglottic folds (see larynx) against the epiglottis. They are occasionally called aryepiglottal consonants.

Epiglottal consonants in the IPA

The epiglottal consonants identified by the International Phonetic Alphabet are:

IPA Description Example
Language Orthography IPA Meaning
voiceless epiglottal stop Aghul jaʡ center
voiced epiglottal fricative or approximant Arabic تَعَشَّى tɑʢɑʃʃæ to have supper
voiceless epiglottal fricative Aghul mɛʜ whey
  • A voiced epiglottal stop may not be possible. When an epiglottal stop becomes voiced intervocalically in Dahalo, for example, it becomes a tap.
  • Although traditionally placed in the fricative row of the IPA chart, ⟨ʢ⟩ is usually an approximant. The IPA symbol itself is ambiguous, but no language has a distinct fricative and approximant at this place of articulation. Sometimes the lowering diacritic is used to specify that the manner is approximant: ⟨ʢ̞⟩.
  • Epiglottal trills are quite common (for epiglottals, that is), but this can usually be considered a phonemic stop or a fricative, with the trill being phonetic detail. The IPA has no symbol for this, though ⟨я⟩ is sometimes seen in the literature.


Epiglottals are not known from many languages. However, this may partially be an effect of the difficulty European language-speaking linguists have in recognizing them; it is likely that supposedly pharyngeal consonants in many of the languages reported to possess them are in fact epiglottal in articulation. This was discovered to be the case for Dahalo, for example. Epiglottals are primarily known from the Middle East (in the Semitic languages) and from British Columbia (the "pharyngeal trills" in northern Haida are actually epiglottal), but also occur elsewhere, particularly in Northeast Caucasian languages such as Chechen. Nevertheless, epiglottal consonants are phonemically contrastive with pharyngeals only in the Richa dialect of Aghul, a Northeast Caucasian Lezgic language spoken in Dagestan:[1] /ħaw/ "udder" vs. /ʜatʃ/ "apple"; /ʕan/ "belly" vs. /ʢakʷ/ "light".

In 1995 a new possible radical place of articulation, epiglotto-pharyngeal, was reported.

See also


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