In phonetics, secondary articulation occurs when the articulation of a consonant is equivalent to the combined articulations of two or three simpler consonants, at least one of which is an approximant. The secondary articulation of such co-articulated consonants is the approximant-like articulation. It "colors" the primary articulation rather than obscuring it. Maledo (2011) defines secondary articulation as the superimposition of lesser stricture upon a primary articulation.
There are several kinds of secondary articulation supported by the International Phonetic Alphabet:
- Labialization is the most frequently encountered secondary articulation. For example, labialized [kʷ] has a primary velar plosive articulation, [k], with simultaneous [w]-like rounding of the lips, thus the name. It is in contrast to the doubly articulated labial-velar consonant [k͡p], which is articulated with two overlapping plosive articulations, [k] and [p].
- Palatalization is perhaps best known from the Russian "soft" consonants like [tʲ]), which has a primary alveolar plosive articulation, [t], with simultaneous [j]-like (i.e. y-like) raising of the body of the tongue.
- Labio-palatalization is simultaneous labialization and palatalization. It is found, for example, in the name Twi.
- Velarization is the raising of the back of the tongue toward the velum, as in the English "dark" L, [lˠ].
- Pharyngealization is a constriction in the throat (pharynx) and is found in the Arabic "emphatic" consonants such as [sˤ].
- Glottalization involves action of the glottis in addition to the primary articulation of the consonant.
It can sometimes be difficult to distinguish primary and secondary articulation. For example, the alveolo-palatal consonants [ɕ ʑ] are sometimes characterized as a distinct primary articulation and sometimes as palatalization of postalveolar fricatives, equivalent to [ʃʲ ʒʲ] or [s̠ʲ z̠ʲ].
The most common method of transcription in the IPA is to turn the letter corresponding to the secondary articulation into a superscript written after the letter for the primary articulation. For example, the w in ⟨kʷ⟩ is written after the k. This can be misleading, as it iconically suggests that the [k] is released into a [w] sound, analogous to ⟨kˡ kⁿ⟩ ([k] with a lateral and nasal release), when actually the two articulations of [kʷ] are generally pronounced more-or-less simultaneously. Secondary articulation often has a strong effect on surrounding vowels, and may have an audible realization that precedes the primary consonant, or both precedes and follows it. For example, /akʷa/ will not generally sound simply like [akwa], but may be closer to [awkwa] or even [awka]. For this reason, the IPA symbols for labialization and palatalization were for a time placed under the primary letter (e.g. ⟨k̫⟩ for [kʷ] and ⟨ƫ⟩ for [tʲ]), and a number of phoneticians still prefer such unambiguous usage, with ⟨kʷ⟩ and ⟨tʲ⟩ used specifically for off-glides, despite the official policy of the IPA. In the official IPA there remains only an alternative symbol for velarization/pharyngealizaton that is superposed over the primary (e.g. ⟨ɫ⟩ for dark L), but that has font support for a limited number of consonants and is inadvisable for others, where it can be illegible. A few phoneticians use superscript letters for offglides and subscript letters for simultaneous articulation (e.g. ⟨tʲ⟩ vs ⟨tⱼ⟩).
There is a longstanding tradition in the IPA that one may turn any IPA letter into a superscript, and in so doing impart its features to the base consonant. For instance, [ʃˢ] would be an articulation of [ʃ] that has qualities of [s]. However, the features are not necessarily imparted as secondary articulation. Superscripts are also used iconically to indicate the onset or release of a consonant, the on-glide or off-glide of a vowel, and fleeting or weak segments. Among other things, these phenomena include pre-nasalization ([ᵐb]), pre-stopping ([ᵖm, ᵗs]), affrication ([tᶴ]), pre-affrication ([ˣk]), trilled, fricative, nasal, and lateral release ([tʳ, tᶿ, dⁿ, dˡ]), rhoticization ([ɑʵ]), and diphthongs ([aᶷ]). So, while ⟨ˠ⟩ indicates velarization of non-velar consonants, it is also used for fricative release of the velar stop (⟨ɡˠ⟩). Mixed consonant-vowels may indicate a transition: [ᵇa] may be the allophone of /a/ with the transition from /b/ that identifies the consonant, while [fʸ] may be the allophone of /f/ before /y/, or the formants of /y/ anticipated in the /f/.
Unicode support of superscript IPA letters
The customary use of superscript IPA letters, advocated in IPA charts until 1989, is formalized again in the extIPA chart of 2015. However, not all IPA letters are supported by Unicode. The letters that are supported as of 2020 are shown here in black. Letters in grey are scheduled for Unicode 14 in 2021.
|ʕ ˤ, ˁ
10796 [note 4]
|Lateral approximant||l ˡ
315 [note 6]
|Percussive||ʬ ⁻||ʭ ⁻||¡ ꜞ
As of Unicode 13, there are no superscript implosive, click or ExtIPA letters, with the accidental exceptions of ⟨ꜝ, ꜞ⟩.[note 7] Nor are there superscript length marks, though these may be found in print (for example, long aspiration may be transcribed as superscript ⟨h⟩ followed by superscript ⟨ː⟩). The spacing diacritic for ejective consonants, U+2BC, works well enough with superscript letters despite not being superscript itself: ⟨ᵖʼ ᵗʼ ᶜʼ ᵏˣʼ⟩. If a distinction needs to be made, the combining apostrophe U+315 may be used: ⟨ᵖ̕ ᵗ̕ ᶜ̕ ᵏˣ̕⟩.[note 6]
Superscript letters can be modified by IPA and extIPA combining diacritics, just as full letters are. For example, a superscript dental nasal is ⟨ⁿ̪d̪⟩, a voiceless velar nasal ⟨ᵑ̊ǂ⟩, and a prenasalized labial-velar plosive ⟨ᵑ͡ᵐɡ͡b⟩. In a properly designed font, the diacritic will align with the superscript letter. (Spacing diacritics, however, as in ⟨tʲ⟩, cannot be secondarily superscripted in plain text: ⟨ᵗʲ⟩.)[note 8]
|ᵿ ⁻||ʊ ᶷ|
The precomposed rhotic vowels ⟨ɚ ɝ⟩ are not supported, but the rhotic diacritic works well on superscript vowels despite not being superscripted itself: ⟨ᵊ˞ ᵌ˞⟩ (also ⟨ᵋ˞ ᶦ˞ ᵓ˞ ᵅ˞⟩). Other combining diacritics work as normal, though they may be a bit oversized compared to the vowels they modify, which can be an aid to legibility: ⟨ᵓ̃⟩.
The old near-close vowel letters ⟨ɩ⟩ and ⟨ɷ⟩ are supported at U+1DA5 ⟨ᶥ⟩ and U+107A4 ⟨⟩.
- Palatalization (phonetics)
- superscript Latin and Greek letters
- Not to be confused with U+1D4D ⟨ᵍ⟩, which is superscript g.
- Superscript ⟨ç⟩ is composed of superscript c and a combining cedilla, which should display properly in a good font. Superscript c was specifically requested for this purpose in Unicode proposal L2/03-180.
- These two characters are essentially the same thing. U+02E4 Modifier Letter Small Reversed Glottal Stop (the slightly larger of the two) is specifically a superscript U+0295 reversed glottal stop, whereas U+02C1 Modifier Letter Reversed Glottal Stop is a reversed U+02C0 Modifier Letter Glottal Stop, both of which have use outside the IPA. There is no parallel IPA/para-IPA distinction among the glottal stop letters.
- U+1D78 ⟨ᵸ⟩ is a superscript lower-case Cyrillic ⟨н⟩, but in roman typeface is graphically identical to a superscript IPA ⟨ʜ⟩.
- In Microsoft fonts this character was erroneously designed as a superscript ⟨ꬸ⟩.
- Shown here on a capital 'P' as a wildcard for 'plosive'. The combining apostrophe U+315 would not be used for a baseline consonant with a superscript release, such as [tˢʼ] or [kˣʼ], where the scope of the apostrophe includes the non-superscript letter.
- U+A71D and A71E were adopted for the Africanist equivalents of the IPA characters ꜜ downstep and ꜛ upstep.
- In this instance, the old IPA letter for [tʲ], ⟨ƫ⟩, has a superscript Unicode variant, U+1DB5 ⟨ᶵ⟩, and similarly the lateral U+1DDA ⟨ᶪ⟩, but that is not generally the case.
- Not to be confused with U+1D4C ⟨ᵌ⟩, which is superscript ᴈ (a turned rather than reversed ɛ).
- Not to be confused with U+1D46 ⟨ᵆ⟩, which is superscript turned æ.
- International Phonetic Association (1978). "The International Phonetic Alphabet (Revised to 1979)". Journal of the International Phonetic Association. 8 (1–2). Supplement. JSTOR 44541414.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link) Reprinted in MacMahon (2010), p. 271 harvp error: no target: CITEREFMacMahon2010 (help).
- Ball, Martin J.; Howard, Sara J.; Miller, Kirk (2018). "Revisions to the extIPA chart". Journal of the International Phonetic Association. 48 (2): 155–164. doi:10.1017/S0025100317000147.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)