Retroflex click

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Retroflex click
(plain velar)
k͡‼
ᵏ𝼊
Voiced retroflex click
‼̬
ᶢ𝼊
Retroflex nasal click
‼̃
ᵑ𝼊

The retroflex clicks are a family of click consonants known only from the Central !Kung dialects of Namibia and (as a voiced nasal click only) the Damin ritual jargon of Australia, though it's not known if the later was phonemically distinct. They are sub-apical retroflex and should not be confused with the more widespread postalveolar clicks, which are sometimes mistakenly called "retroflex" (for example in Unicode) due to their concave tongue shape.

There is no official symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents the forward articulation of these sounds, and the expected symbol ⟨𝼊[1] is rarely seen.[scheduled for Unicode support in 2021] In the literature they are typically written with the ad hoc digraph ⟨⟩, the convention since Doke identified them as retroflex in 1926. (Doke's proposed symbol, ⟨ψ⟩,[2] did not catch on, nor did Vedder's and Anders' ⟨⦀⟩.[3] For a while Amanda Miller, who noted a lateral fricated release (as had Vedder), transcribed them ⟨ǃǁ⟩.[4])

(For Damin, the retroflex nasal click, which may or may not be similar to the clicks of Central !Kung, was transcribed by Hale & Nash as ⟨rn!⟩.)

Basic retroflex clicks are:

Trans. I Trans. II Trans. III Description
(velar)
k͜‼ ᵏ‼ tenuis retroflex click
k͜‼ʰ ᵏ‼ʰ ‼ʰ aspirated retroflex click
ɡ͜‼ ᶢ‼ ‼̬ voiced retroflex click
ŋ͜‼ ᵑ‼ ‼̃ retroflex nasal click
ŋ͜‼̥ʰʰ ᵑ‼̥ʰʰ ‼̥̃ʰʰ aspirated retroflex nasal click
ŋ͜‼ˀ ᵑ‼ˀ ‼̃ˀ glottalized retroflex nasal click
(uvular)
q͜‼ 𐞥‼ tenuis retroflex click
q͜‼ʰ 𐞥‼ʰ aspirated retroflex click
ɢ͜‼ 𐞒‼ voiced retroflex click
ɴ͜‼ ᶰ‼ retroflex nasal click
ɴ͜‼̥ʰʰ ᶰ‼̥ʰʰ aspirated retroflex nasal click
ɴ͜‼ˀ ᶰ‼ˀ glottalized retroflex nasal click

Features[edit]

Features of postalveolar clicks:

  • The basic articulation may be voiced, nasal, aspirated, glottalized, etc.
  • The place of articulation is post-alveolar, and the tongue shape may be subapical, which means it is articulated with the tip of the tongue curled up. The center of the tongue moves downward to create suction.
  • Clicks may be oral or nasal, which means that the airflow is either restricted to the mouth, or passes through the nose as well.
  • It is a lateral consonant, which means it is produced by directing the airstream over the sides of the tongue, rather than down the middle.
  • 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.

Occurrence[edit]

As with other click articulations, retroflex clicks may be produced with various manners. An example is the voiced retroflex click in the Grootfontein !Kung (Central Juu) word for 'water', /‼̬ˡú/ (g‼ú).

Damin is the only other language known to have had such a sound, though only the nasal click occurred.

A retroflex series claimed for Ekoka !Kung turns out to be domed palatal clicks.

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ renderable in some fonts as ⟨ǃ̢⟩ or ⟨ǃ̨
  2. ^ Clement M. Doke (1925) "An outline of the phonetics of the language of the ʗhũ: Bushman of the North-West Kalahari", Bantu Studies 2: 129–166
  3. ^ H.D. Anders (1934–1935) "A note on a South Eastern Bushman dialect", Zeitschrift für Eingeborenen-Sprachen 25: 81–89
    —— (1937) "The clicks", South African Journal of Science 33: 926–939.
  4. ^ Amanda Miller (2009) Contrastive Coronal Click Types in !Xung

Further reading[edit]

  • Scott, Miller, Namaseb, Sands, & Shah, 2010. Retroflex clicks in two dialects of !Xung. University of Botswana.

External links[edit]