Tenuis alveolar click

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(Tenuis) alveolar click
IPA number 178
Entity (decimal) ǃ​ʗ
Unicode (hex) U+01C3 U+0297
Kirshenbaum c![1]
Unicode character name for ǃ is LATIN LETTER RETROFLEX CLICK
Main article: Alveolar clicks

The voiceless or more precisely tenuis (post)alveolar click is a click consonant found primarily among the languages of southern Africa. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is ǃ. The Doke/Beach convention, adopted for a time by the IPA and still preferred by some linguists, is ʗ.


Features of the tenuis (post)alveolar 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 voiceless, unaspirated, and unglottalized, which means it is produced without vibration or constriction of the vocal cords, and any following vowel starts without significant delay.
  • It is an oral consonant, which means air is allowed to escape through the mouth only.
  • 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.


Tenuis alveolar clicks are found primarily in the various Khoisan language families of southern Africa and in some neighboring Bantu languages.

Language Word IPA Meaning
Hadza laqo [laǃo] = [laʗo] 'to trip'
Khoekhoe ǃgabe [ǃȁwé] = [ʗȁwé] 'to speak a Khoisan language'
Sesotho ho qoqa [hoǃɔǃɑ] = [hoʗɔʗɑ] 'to examine'
Xhosa iqanda [iǃanda] = [iʗanda] 'egg'
Zulu iqaqa [iːǃáːǃa] = [iːʗáːʗa] 'polecat'


  1. ^ Kirshembaum assigns c! indifferently to both alveolar and palatal clicks.