The uvular nasal is a type of consonantal sound, used in some spoken languages. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is ⟨ɴ⟩, a small capital version of the Latin letter n; the equivalent X-SAMPA symbol is N\.
The uvular nasal is a rare sound crosslingually, presumably due to the relative difficulty involved in articulating this sound. The very small oral cavity used to produce uvular consonants makes it difficult to sustain voicing. It is also difficult to allow air to escape through the nose, as is required for a nasal consonant, while simultaneously blocking oral airflow as far back in the oral cavity as the uvular point of articulation.
The uvular nasal most commonly occurs as a conditioned allophone of other sounds in specific environments. For example, as an allophone of /n/ before a uvular plosive as in Quechua. However, it occurs as an independent phoneme in a small number of languages, notably Klallam and the Papuan language Mapos Buang. In Mapos Buang, the uvular nasal is phonemically distinct from three other phonemic dorsal nasals: a palatal nasal, a velar nasal, and a labialized velar nasal. This appears to be the only language known to contain a phonemic contrast between the uvular nasal and other dorsal nasals.
There is also the pre-uvular nasal in some languages such as Yanyuwa, which is articulated slightly more front compared with the place of articulation of the prototypical uvular nasal, though not as front as the prototypical velar nasal. The International Phonetic Alphabet does not have a separate symbol for that sound, though it can be transcribed as ⟨ɴ̟⟩ (advanced ⟨ɴ⟩), ⟨ŋ̠⟩ or ⟨ŋ˗⟩ (both symbols denote a retracted ⟨ŋ⟩). The equivalent X-SAMPA symbols are N\_+ and N_-, respectively.
Features of the uvular nasal:
- Its manner of articulation is occlusive, which means it is produced by obstructing airflow in the vocal tract. Because the consonant is also nasal, the blocked airflow is redirected through the nose.
- Its place of articulation is uvular, which means it is articulated with the back of the tongue (the dorsum) at the uvula.
- 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.
- Because the sound is not produced with airflow over the tongue, the central–lateral dichotomy does not apply.
- The airstream mechanism is pulmonic, which means it is articulated by pushing air solely with the lungs and diaphragm, as in most sounds.
|Afrikaans||Many speakers||aangenaam||[ˈɑːɴχənɑːm]||'pleasant'||Allophone of /n/ before /χ/; realized as [n] in formal speech. See Afrikaans phonology|
|Armenian||անխելք||[ɑɴˈχɛlkʰ]||'brainless'||Allophone of /n/ before a uvular consonant in informal speech.|
|Dutch||Netherlandic||aangenaam||[ˈaːɴχəˌnaːm]||'pleasant'||Allophone of /n/ and /ŋ/ in dialects that use [χ]. Can be realized as [n] in formal speech.|
|Georgian||ზინყი||[ziɴqʼi]||'hip joint'||Allophone of /n/.|
|Inuit||Inuvialuktun||namunganmun||[namuŋaɴmuɴ]||'to where?'||See Inuit phonology|
|Japanese||本/hon||[hõ̞ɴː]||'book'||Tongue closure may be incomplete. See Japanese phonology|
|Klallam||sqəyáyŋəxʷ||[sqəˈjajɴəxʷ]||'big tree'||Contrasts with glottalized form.|
|Mapos Buang||alunġ||[aˈl̪uɴ]||'widower'||Phonemic, and contrasts with /ŋ/.|
|Quechua||Peruvian||sonqo||[ˈs̠oɴqo]||'heart'||Allophone of /n/.|
|Spanish||enjuto||[ẽ̞ɴˈχuto̞]||'dry'||Allophone of /n/. See Spanish phonology|
|Yanyuwa||[waŋ̠ulu]||'adolescent boy'||Pre-uvular; contrasts with post-palatal [ŋ˖].|
- Bobaljik, Jonathan David (October 1996). "Assimilation in the Inuit Languages and the Place of the Uvular Nasal". International Journal of American Linguistics, Vol. 62, No. 4, pp. 323-350. The University of Chicago Press. JSTOR 1265705.
- Hooley; Rambok, Bruce; Mose Lung (2010). Ḳapiya Tateḳin Buang Vuheng-atov Ayej = Central Buang–English Dictionary. Summer Institute of Linguistics, Papua New Guinea Branch. ISBN 9980035897.
- Instead of "pre-uvular", it can be called "advanced uvular", "fronted uvular", "post-velar", "retracted velar" or "backed velar". For simplicity, this article uses only the term "pre-uvular".
- Vance (2008), p. 96.
- Martínez Celdrán, Fernández Planas & Carrera Sabaté (2003), p. 258.
- Ladefoged & Maddieson (1996), pp. 34-35.
- Ladefoged, Peter; Maddieson, Ian (1996). The Sounds of the World's Languages. Oxford: Blackwell. ISBN 0-631-19814-8.
- 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
- Vance, Timothy J. (2008), The Sounds of Japanese, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 978-0-521-61754-3