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Labial(-velar)ized with protrusion

Labialization is a secondary articulatory feature of sounds in some languages. Labialized sounds involve the lips while the remainder of the oral cavity produces another sound. The term is normally restricted to consonants. When vowels involve the lips, they are called rounded.

The most common labialized consonants are labialized velars. Most other labialized sounds also have simultaneous velarization, and the process may then be more precisely called labio-velarization. The "labialization" of bilabial consonants often refers to protrusion instead of a secondary articulatory feature velarization. [pʷ] doesn't mean [pˠ] although [w] refers to a labial–velar approximant.

In phonology, labialization may also refer to a type of assimilation process.



Labialization is the most widespread secondary articulation in the world's languages. It is phonemically contrastive in Northwest Caucasian (e.g. Adyghe), Athabaskan, and Salishan language families, among others. This contrast is reconstructed also for Proto-Indo-European, the common ancestor of the Indo-European languages; and it survives in Latin and some Romance languages. It is also found in the Cushitic and Ethio-Semitic languages.

American English labializes /r, ʃ, ʒ, tʃ, dʒ/ to various degrees.[citation needed]

A few languages, including Arrernte and Mba, have contrastive labialized forms for almost all of their consonants.

In many Salishan languages, such as Klallam, velar consonants only occur in their labialized forms (except /k/, which occurs in some loanwords). However, uvular consonants occur abundantly labialized and unrounded.



Out of 706 language inventories surveyed by Ruhlen (1976), labialization occurred most often with velar (42%) and uvular (15%) segments and least often with dental and alveolar segments. With non-dorsal consonants, labialization may include velarization as well. Labialization is not restricted to lip-rounding. The following articulations have either been described as labialization or been found as allophonic realizations of prototypical labialization:

Eastern Arrernte has labialization at all places and manners of articulation; this derives historically from adjacent rounded vowels, as is also the case of the Northwest Caucasian languages. Marshallese also has phonemic labialization as a secondary articulation at all places of articulation except for labial consonants and coronal obstruents.

In North America, languages from a number of families have sounds that sound labialized (and vowels that sound rounded) without the participation of the lips. See Tillamook language for an example.



In Slovene, sounds can be prelabialized. Furthermore, the change is phonemic and all phonemes have prelabialized pairs (though not all of their allophones can have pairs). Compare stati 'stand' [ˈs̪t̪àːt̪í] and vstati 'stand up' [ˈʷs̪t̪àːt̪í]. The prelabialization part, however, is usually not considered as being part of the same phoneme as prelabialized sound, but rather as an allophone of /ʋ/ as it changes depending on the environment, e. g. vzeti 'take' [ˈʷz̪èːt̪í] and povzeti 'summarize' [pou̯ˈz̪èːt̪í].[2] See Slovene phonology for more details.



In the International Phonetic Alphabet, labialization of velar consonants is indicated with a raised w modifier [ʷ] (Unicode U+02B7), as in /kʷ/. (Elsewhere this diacritic generally indicates simultaneous labialization and velarization.[citation needed]) There are also diacritics, respectively [ɔ̹], [ɔ̜], to indicate greater or lesser degrees of rounding.[3] These are normally used with vowels but may occur with consonants. For example, in the Athabaskan language Hupa, voiceless velar fricatives distinguish three degrees of labialization, transcribed either /x/, /x̹/, /xʷ/ or /x/, /x̜ʷ/, /xʷ/.

The extensions to the IPA has two additional symbols for degrees of rounding: Spread [ɹ͍] and open-rounded [ʒꟹ] (as in English). It also has a symbol for labiodentalized sounds, [tᶹ].[4]

If precision is desired, the Abkhaz and Ubykh articulations may be transcribed with the appropriate fricative or trill raised as a diacritic: [tᵛ], [tᵝ], [tʙ], [tᵖ].

For simple labialization, Ladefoged & Maddieson (1996) resurrected an old IPA symbol, [ ̫],[5] which would be placed above a letter with a descender such as ɡ. However, their chief example is Shona sv and zv, which they transcribe /s̫/ and /z̫/ but which actually seem to be whistled sibilants, without necessarily being labialized.[6] Another possibility is to use the IPA diacritic for rounding, distinguishing for example the labialization in English soon [s̹] and [sʷ] swoon.[7] The open rounding of English /ʃ/ is also unvelarized.



Labialization also refers to a specific type of assimilatory process where a given sound become labialized due to the influence of neighboring labial sounds. For example, /k/ may become /kʷ/ in the environment of /o/, or /a/ may become /o/ in the environment of /p/ or /kʷ/.

In the Northwest Caucasian languages as well as some Australian languages rounding has shifted from the vowels to the consonants, producing a wide range of labialized consonants and leaving in some cases only two phonemic vowels. This appears to have been the case in Ubykh and Eastern Arrernte, for example. The labial vowel sounds usually still remain, but only as allophones next to the now-labial consonant sounds.

List of labialized consonants

type Phone IPA Languages
Stops plain protruded voiceless bilabial stop [pʷ] Chaha, Paha
protruded voiced bilabial stop [bʷ] Chaha, Paha, Mayo, Yaqui
labzd voiceless alveolar stop [tʷ] Archi, Abkhaz, Lao, Paha, Ubykh
labzd voiced alveolar stop [dʷ] Archi, Abkhaz, Ubykh
labzd voiceless velar stop [kʷ] Abaza, Abkhaz, Adyghe, Halkomelem, Kabardian, Taos, Chipewyan, Hadza, Gwichʼin, Tlingit, Akan, Nez Perce, Archi, Cantonese, Wariʼ, Chaha, Dahalo, Hausa, Igala, Igbo, Italian, Lao, Latin, Nahuatl, Nawat, Okinawan, Ossetic, Paha, Portuguese, Thai, Tigrinya, Hiw, Ubykh, Bearlake Slavey, Breton
labzd voiced velar stop [ɡʷ] Abaza, Abkhaz, Adyghe, Akan, Archi, Chaha, Dahalo, Hausa, Okinawan, Oowekyala, Ossetic, Hadza, Igala, Igbo, Gwichʼin, Kabardian, Paha, Portuguese, Tigrinya, Ubykh, Breton, Yoruba
labzd voiceless uvular stop [qʷ] Abaza, Abkhaz, Adyghe, Kabardian, Ossetic, Paha, Tlingit, Nez Perce, Ubykh
labzd pharyngealized voiceless uvular stop [qˤʷ] Archi, Ubykh
labzd voiced uvular stop [ɢʷ] Oowekyala, Kwak'wala, Tsakhur
labzd glottal stop [ʔʷ] Adyghe, Kabardian, Lao, Tlingit
labzd prenasalized voiced bilabial plosive [ᵐbʷ] Tamambo
Labial–velar protruded voiceless labio–velar stop [k͡pʷ] Dorig, Mwotlap
protruded prenasalized voiced labial–velar stop [ᵑɡ͡bʷ] Volow
Affricates sibilant labzd voiceless alveolar affricate [t͡sʷ] Adyghe, Archi, Lezgian, Tsakhur
labzd voiced alveolar affricate [d͡zʷ] Adyghe, Dahalo
labzd voiceless palato-alveolar affricate [t͡ʃʷ] Archi, Abaza, Adyghe, Paha, Aghul, German
labzd voiced palato-alveolar affricate [d͡ʒʷ] Abaza, Aghul, Tsakhur, German
labzd voiceless alveolo-palatal affricate [t͡ɕʷ] Abkhaz, Akan, Ubykh
labzd voiced alveolo-palatal affricate [d͡ʑʷ] Abkhaz, Akan, Ubykh
non-sibilant labzd voiceless velar affricate [k͡xʷ] Navajo
labzd voiceless uvular affricate [q͡χʷ] Kabardian, Lillooet
lateral labzd voiceless velar lateral affricate [k͡ʟ̝̊ʷ] Archi
Fricatives sibilant labzd voiceless alveolar sibilant [sʷ] Archi, Lao, Lezgian
labzd voiced alveolar sibilant [zʷ] Archi, Tsakhur, Lezgian
labzd voiceless palato-alveolar sibilant [ʃʷ] Archi, Abaza, Abkhaz, Adyghe, Paha, Aghul, Ubykh
labzd voiced palato-alveolar sibilant [ʒʷ] Archi, Abaza, Abkhaz, Adyghe, Aghul, Ubykh
labzd voiceless retroflex sibilant [ʂʷ] Bzhedug
labzd voiced retroflex sibilant [ʐʷ] Bzhedug
labzd voiceless alveolo-palatal sibilant [ɕʷ] Abkhaz, Ubykh
labzd voiced alveolo-palatal sibilant [ʑʷ] Abkhaz, Ubykh
non-sibilant protruded voiceless bilabial fricative [ɸʷ] Okinawan
protruded voiced bilabial fricative [βʷ] Tamambo
labzd voiceless labiodental fricative[further explanation needed] [fʷ] Hadza, Chaha
labzd voiced labiodental fricative[further explanation needed] [vʷ]
labzd voiceless dental fricative [θʷ] Paha
labzd voiced dental fricative [ðʷ] Paha
labzd voiceless palatal fricative [çʷ] Akan
labzd voiceless velar fricative [xʷ] Abaza, Adyghe, Avestan, Chaha, Halkomelem, Kabardian, Oowekyala, Taos, Navajo, Tigrinya, Lillooet, Tlingit
labzd voiced velar fricative [ɣʷ] Abaza, Navajo, Lillooet, Gwichʼin, possibly Proto-Indo-European
labzd voiceless uvular fricative [χʷ] Abkhaz, Adyghe, Archi, Halkomelem, Kabardian, Lillooet, Tlingit, Wariʼ, Chipewyan, Oowekyala, Ossetic, Ubykh
labzd pharyngealized voiceless uvular fricative [χˤʷ] Abkhaz, Archi, Ubykh
labzd voiced uvular fricative [ʁʷ] Abkhaz, Adyghe, Chipewyan, Kabardian, Ubykh
labzd pharyngealized voiced uvular fricative [ʁˤʷ] Archi, Ubykh
labzd voiceless pharyngeal fricative [ħʷ] Abaza, Abkhaz
labzd voiced pharyngeal fricative [ʕʷ] Abaza, Lillooet
Pseudo-fricatives labzd voiceless glottal fricative [hʷ] Akan, Tlingit, Tsakhur
Lateral fricatives labzd voiceless alveolar lateral fricative [ɬʷ] Dahalo
labzd voiceless velar lateral fricative [ʟ̝̊ʷ] Archi
Nasals protruded bilabial nasal [mʷ] Adyghe, Chaha, Paha, Tamambo
labzd palatal nasal [ɲʷ] Akan
labzd velar nasal [ŋʷ] Akan, Avestan, Lao, Hiw, Igala
protruded labial-velar nasal [ŋ͡mʷ] Dorig, Mwotlap
Approximants labzd alveolar lateral approximant [lʷ] Lao
labzd labiodental approximant[further explanation needed] [ʋʷ] Russian[8]
labialized palatal approximant [ɥ] Abkhaz, Akan, French, Mandarin, Paha
Labio-velar approximant (voiced) [ɰᵝ] in Japanese
Protruded labio-velar approximant (voiced) [ɰʷ] widespread; in every above-mentioned language, as well as e.g. Arabic, English, Korean, Vietnamese
Voiceless labio-velar approximant [ʍ] certain dialects of English
nasal labialized velar approximant [w̃] Polish, Portuguese
labzd postalveolar approximant [ɹ̠ʷ] many dialects of English
Ejectives protruded bilabial ejective [pʷʼ] Adyghe
labzd alveolar ejective [tʷʼ] Abkhaz, Adyghe, Ubykh
labzd velar ejective [kʷʼ] Abaza, Abkhaz, Adyghe, Archi, Bearlake Slavey, Chipewyan, Halkomelem, Kabardian, Ossetic, Tlingit, Ubykh
labzd palato-alveolar ejective fricative [ʃʷʼ] Adyghe
labzd uvular ejective [qʷʼ] Abaza, Abkhaz, Archi, Halkomelem, Hakuchi, Tlingit, Ubykh
labzd pharyngealized uvular ejective [qˤʷʼ] Archi, Ubykh
labzd alveolar ejective affricate [t͡sʷʼ] Archi, Khwarshi
labzd alveolar lateral ejective affricate [t͡ɬʷʼ] Khwarshi
labzd palato-alveolar ejective affricate [t͡ʃʷʼ] Abaza, Archi, Khwarshi
labzd alveolo-palatal ejective affricate [t͡ɕʷʼ] Abkhaz, Ubykh
labzd retroflex ejective affricate [ʈ͡ʂʷʼ] allophonic in Adyghe
labzd velar lateral ejective affricate [k͡ʟ̝̊ʷʼ] Archi
labzd velar ejective fricative [xʷʼ] Tlingit
labzd uvular ejective fricative [χʷʼ] Tlingit

See also



  1. ^ a b Siegel, Bernard J. (1977). Annual Review of Anthropology. Annual Reviews Incorporated. ISBN 9780824319069.
  2. ^ Jurgec, Peter (2007), Novejše besedje s stališča fonologije Primer slovenščine (in Slovenian), Tromsø, p. 95{{citation}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  3. ^ As a mnemonic, the more-rounded diacritics resemble the rounded vowel ⟨ɔ⟩.
  4. ^ International Phonetic Association (1999). Handbook of the International Phonetic Association: A Guide to the Use of the International Phonetic Alphabet. Cambridge University Press. p. 190. ISBN 978-0-52163751-0.
  5. ^ This is not a subscript w but originally a subscript omega that "recalls the letter w" (Jespersen & Pedersen, 1926, Phonetic Transcription and Transliteration: Proposals of the Copenhagen Conference, April 1925. Oxford University Press).
  6. ^ See [1]. Archived May 16, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ John Esling (2010) "Phonetic Notation", in Hardcastle, Laver & Gibbon (eds) The Handbook of Phonetic Sciences, 2nd ed.
  8. ^ Yanushevskaya & Bunčić (2015:223)