Nasal alveolar click

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Nasal alveolar velar click
Audio sample
Nasal alveolar uvular click

The alveolar nasal click is a click consonant found primarily among the languages of southern Africa.[1] The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is ⟨ǃ̃⟩ or ⟨ᵑǃ⟩; a symbol abandoned by the IPA but still preferred by some linguists is ⟨ʗ̃⟩ or ⟨ᵑʗ⟩.


Features of the alveolar nasal click:

  • The airstream mechanism is lingual ingressive (also known as velaric ingressive), which means a pocket of air trapped between two closures is rarefied by a "sucking" action of the tongue, rather than being moved by the glottis or the lungs/diaphragm. The release of the forward closure produces the "click" sound. Voiced and nasal clicks have a simultaneous pulmonic egressive airstream.
  • Its place of articulation is alveolar, which means it is articulated with either the tip or the blade of the tongue at the alveolar ridge, termed respectively apical and laminal.
  • Its phonation is voiced, which means the vocal cords vibrate during the articulation.
  • 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.
  • 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.


Alveolar nasal clicks are found primarily in the various Khoisan language families of southern Africa and in some neighboring Bantu languages such as Yeyi.[2]

Language Word IPA Meaning
ǃKung an [ᵑǃáŋ] = [ʗ̃áŋ] 'inside'
Damin n!2u [ᵑǃᵑǃu] = [ʗ̃ʗ̃u] 'water'
Hadza henqee [ɦeŋᵑǃeʔe] = [ɦeŋʗ̃eʔe] 'dead leopard'
Khoekhoe xuruǃomǃnâ [xȕɾúᵑǃˀóm̀ᵑǃã̀ã̀] = [xȕɾúʗ̃ˀóm̀ʗ̃ã̀ã̀] 'to yank at something'
Zulu inqola [iᵑǃɔ́ːla] = [iʗ̃ɔ́ːla] 'cart'

Glottalized alveolar nasal click[edit]

alveolar nasal click

All Khoisan languages, and a few Bantu languages, have glottalized nasal clicks. These are formed by closing the glottis so that the click is pronounced in silence; however, any preceding vowel will be nasalized.

Language Word IPA Meaning
Hadza teqqe [teᵑǃˀe] = [teʗ̃ˀe] 'to carry'
Khoekhoe xuruǃomǃnâ [xȕɾúᵑǃˀóm̀ᵑǃã̀ã̀] = [xȕɾúʗ̃ˀóm̀ʗ̃ã̀ã̀] 'to yank at something'
Xhosa ukuqhankqalaza [ukʼuǃʰaᵑǃˀalaza] = [ukʼuʗʰaʗ̃ˀalaza] 'to struggle'


  1. ^ Knight, Rachael-Anne (2012-01-26). Phonetics: A Coursebook. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-1-139-50419-5.
  2. ^ Sands, Bonny (2020-09-25). Click Consonants. BRILL. ISBN 978-90-04-42435-7.