Labio-velar approximant

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Labio-velar approximant
w
IPA number 170
Encoding
Entity (decimal) w
Unicode (hex) U+0077
X-SAMPA w
Kirshenbaum w
Braille ⠺ (braille pattern dots-2456)
Sound
Compressed labio-velar approximant
ɰᵝ
wᵝ

The voiced labio-velar approximant is a type of consonantal sound, used in certain spoken languages, including English. It is the sound denoted by the letter w in the English alphabet;[1] likewise, the symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is w, and the equivalent X-SAMPA symbol is w. In most languages it is a labialized velar approximant [ɰʷ], and the semivocalic counterpart of the close back rounded vowel [u] - i.e. the non-syllabic close back rounded vowel. As labio-velar consonants do not easily fit into consonant charts with only labial and velar columns, [w] may be put in either the velar column, (bi)labial column, or both, though the latter is rare outside of the official IPA chart; the placement may have more to do with phonological criteria than phonetic ones.[2]

Features[edit]

Features of the voiced labialized 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. The type of approximant is glide or semivowel. The term glide emphasizes the characteristic of movement (or 'glide') of /w/ from the /u/ vowel position to a following vowel position. The term semivowel emphasizes that, although the sound is vocalic in nature, it is not 'syllabic' (it does not form the nucleus of a syllable).
  • Its place of articulation is labialized velar, which means it is articulated with the back part of the tongue raised toward the soft palate (the velum) while rounding the lips. Some languages, such as Japanese and perhaps the Northern Iroquoian languages, have a sound typically transcribed as [w] where the lips are compressed (or at least not rounded), which is a true labial–velar (as opposed to labialized velar) consonant. Close transcriptions may avoid the symbol [w] in such cases, or may use the under-rounding diacritic, [w̜].
  • 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
Abkhaz ауаҩы [awaˈɥə] 'human' See Abkhaz phonology
Adyghe уэ [wa] 'you'
Arabic Standard[3] وَرْد [ward] 'roses' See Arabic phonology
Assyrian Neo-Aramaic ktawa [kta:wa] 'book' Most speakers. [v] and [ʋ] are used in the Urmia dialects.
Basque lau [law] 'four'
Catalan[4] creuar [kɾəˈwa] 'to cross' See Catalan phonology
Chinese Cantonese wu4 [wuː˨˩] 'lake' See Cantonese phonology
Mandarin wáng [wɑŋ˧˥] 'king' See Mandarin phonology
Dutch Flemish welp [wɛɫp] 'cub' Standard Belgian pronunciation, may be realised as [β̞] in some dialects. See Dutch phonology
English weep [wiːp] 'weep' See English phonology
French[5] oui [wi] 'yes' See French phonology
Hawaiian[6] wikiwiki [wikiwiki] 'fast' May also be realized as [v]. See Hawaiian phonology
Hebrew כוח [ˈkowaħ] 'power' See Modern Hebrew phonology
Irish vóta [ˈwoːt̪ˠə] 'vote' See Irish phonology
Italian[7] uomo [ˈwɔːmo] 'man' See Italian phonology
Japanese わたし watashi [ɰᵝataɕi] 'I' Pronounced with lip compression. See Japanese phonology
Kabardian уэ [wa] 'you'
Korean 왜가리 waegari [wɛɡɐɾi] 'heron' See Korean phonology
Malay wang [waŋ] 'money'
Pashto ﻭﺍﺭ [wɑr] 'one time'
Polish[8] łaska About this sound [ˈwäskä]  'grace' See Polish phonology. Corresponds to [ɫ] in older pronunciation and eastern dialects
Portuguese[9] quando [ˈkwɐ̃d̪u] 'when' Non-syllabic allophone of /u/ except when after velar occlusives. Brazilian dialects that have [ʊ] prefer [ʊ̯] when in coda position.[9] See Portuguese phonology
Romanian dulău [duˈləw] 'mastiff' See Romanian phonology
Seri cmiique [ˈkw̃ĩːkːɛ] 'person' Allophone of /m/
Sotho sewa [ˈsewa] 'epidemic' See Sesotho phonology
Spanish[10] cuanto [ˈkwãn̪t̪o̞] 'as much' See Spanish phonology
Swahili mwanafunzi [mwɑnɑfunzi] 'student'
Tagalog araw [ɐˈɾaw] 'day' See Tagalog phonology
Thai[11] แห waen [wɛn˩˩˦] 'ring'
Ukrainian любов [lʲubɔw] 'love' See Ukrainian phonology
Vietnamese[12] tuần [t̪wən˨˩] 'week' See Vietnamese phonology
Welsh gwae [ɡwaɨ] 'woe' See Welsh phonology
West Frisian skowe [skoːwǝ] 'to shove'

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Bibliography[edit]

  • Barbosa, Plínio A.; Albano, Eleonora C. (2004), Brazilian Portuguese, Journal of the International Phonetic Association 34 (2): 227–232, doi:10.1017/S0025100304001756 
  • Carbonell, Joan F.; Llisterri, Joaquim (1992), Catalan, Journal of the International Phonetic Association 22 (1–2): 53–56, doi:10.1017/S0025100300004618 
  • Fougeron, Cecile; Smith, Caroline L. (1993), French, Journal of the International Phonetic Association 23 (2): 73–76, doi:10.1017/S0025100300004874 
  • Jassem, Wiktor (2003), Polish, Journal of the International Phonetic Association 33 (1): 103–107, doi:10.1017/S0025100303001191 
  • Martínez-Celdrán, Eugenio; Fernández-Planas, Ana Ma.; Carrera-Sabaté, Josefina (2003), Castilian Spanish, Journal of the International Phonetic Association 33 (2): 255–259, doi:10.1017/S0025100303001373 
  • Ohala, John; Lorentz, James (1977), "Story of [w]: An exercise in the phonetic explanation for sound patterns", Berkeley Linguistics Society annual meeting 3 proceedings, pp. 577–599 
  • Pukui, Mary Kawena; Elbert, Samuel H. (1986), Hawaiian Dictionary, Honolulu: University of Hawaiʻi Press, ISBN 0-8248-0703-0 
  • Rogers, Derek; d'Arcangeli, Luciana (2004), Italian, Journal of the International Phonetic Association 34 (1): 117–121, doi:10.1017/S0025100304001628 
  • Thompson, Laurence (1959), Saigon phonemics, Language 35 (3): 454–476, doi:10.2307/411232, JSTOR 411232 
  • Watson, Janet (2002), The Phonology and Morphology of Arabic, New York: Oxford University Press