The bilabial nasal is a type of consonantal sound used in almost all spoken languages. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is ⟨m⟩, and the equivalent X-SAMPA symbol is ⟨m⟩. The bilabial nasal occurs in English, and it is the sound represented by "m" in map and rum.
It occurs nearly universally, and few languages (e.g. Mohawk) are known to lack this sound.
Features of the bilabial nasal:
- Its manner of articulation is occlusive, which means it is produced by obstructing airflow in the vocal tract. Since the consonant is also nasal, the blocked airflow is redirected through the nose.
- Its place of articulation is bilabial, which means it is articulated with both lips.
- 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 a nasal consonant, which means air is allowed to escape through the nose, either exclusively (nasal stops) or in addition to through the mouth.
- Because the sound is not produced with airflow over the tongue, the central–lateral dichotomy does not apply.
- The airstream mechanism is pulmonic, which means it is articulated by pushing air solely with the lungs and diaphragm, as in most sounds.
- Thelwall (1990:37)
- Dum-Tragut (2009:19)
- Carbonell & Llisterri (1992:53)
- Gussenhoven (1992:45)
- Fougeron & Smith (1993:73)
- Shosted & Chikovani (2006:255)
- Newton (1972:10)
- Ladefoged (2005:139)
- Soderberg & Olson (2008:210)
- Rogers & d'Arcangeli (2004:117)
- Okada (1991:94)
- Olson et al. (2010:206–207)
- Ladefoged (2005:165)
- Jassem (2003:103)
- Cruz-Ferreira (1995:91)
- Padgett (2003:42)
- Martínez-Celdrán, Fernández-Planas & Carrera-Sabaté (2003:255)
- Thompson (1959:458–461)
- Merrill (2008:108)
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