Velar approximant

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Not to be confused with the Armenian letter պ.
Velar approximant
ɰ
ɣ̞
IPA number 154
Encoding
Entity (decimal) ɰ
Unicode (hex) U+0270
X-SAMPA M\
Kirshenbaum j<vel>
Braille ⠦ (braille pattern dots-236) ⠍ (braille pattern dots-134)
Sound

The voiced velar approximant is a type of consonantal sound, used in some spoken languages. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is ɰ. It is the semivocalic counterpart of the close back unrounded vowel [ɯ]

The IPA symbol ɣ, which otherwise signifies a voiced velar fricative, is more commonly used for the velar approximant than ɰ is, with a lowering diacritic ɣ̞ when specificity is required.

Features[edit]

Features of the velar approximant:

  • Its manner of articulation is approximant, which means it is produced by narrowing the vocal tract at the place of articulation, but not enough to produce a turbulent airstream.
  • Its place of articulation is velar, which means it is articulated with the back of the tongue at the soft palate.
  • Its phonation is voiced, which means the vocal cords vibrate during the articulation. However, in some languages, such as Swiss German, it can just mean that this consonant is pronounced shorter and weaker than its voiceless counterpart, while its voicedness or lack thereof is not relevant. In such cases it's more accurate to call such sounds lenis or lax.
  • 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 pulmonic, which means it is articulated by pushing air solely with the lungs and diaphragm, as in most sounds.

Occurrence[edit]

Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Cherokee wa-tsi [ɰatsi] 'watch' Also represented by , , , , and
Dutch[1] Randstad[2] A very rare pronunciation of /r/,[3] distribution unclear. Realization of /r/ varies considerably among dialects. See Dutch phonology
Southern Netherlandic[2]
French Belgian[4] ara [aɰa] 'macaw' Intervocalic allophone of /ʀ/ for some speakers,[5] unless /ʀ/ is realized as a liaison consonant - then it's most often pronounced [ʀ].[6] See French phonology
Greek Cypriot[7] μαγαζί [maɰaˈzi] 'shop' Allophone of /ɣ/
Guaraní gyresia [ɰɨˈɾe̞sia] 'Greece' Contrasts with [w]
Icelandic saga [ˈsaɰa] 'saga' See Icelandic phonology
Irish naoi [n̪ˠɰiː] 'nine' Occurs only between broad consonants and front vowels. See Irish phonology
Korean 의사 uisa [ɰi.sä] 'doctor' Occurs only before /i/. See Korean phonology
Spanish[8] pagar [päˈɰäɾ] 'to pay' Intervocalic allophone of /ɡ/. See Spanish phonology
Swedish Central Standard[9] agronom [äɰɾʊˈn̪oːm] 'agronomist' Allophone of /g/ in casual speech. See Swedish phonology
Tagalog igriega [iːɡɾɪˈje̞ɰɐ] 'letter y' See Tagalog phonology
Tiwi ngaga [ˈŋaɰa] 'we (inclusive)'

The sound in Japanese often denoted by w in IPA notation and described as unrounded is actually pronounced with lip compression and is therefore labio-velar, albeit with acoustic differences from other labio-velar consonants.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

References[edit]