Tenuis palatal click

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(Tenuis) palatal click
IPA number 179
Entity (decimal) ǂ
Unicode (hex) U+01C2
Kirshenbaum c![1]
Main article: Palatal clicks

The voiceless or more precisely tenuis palatal 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 ǂ (double-barred pipe). A stylistic variant sometimes seen is ʄ (double-barred esh).


Features of the tenuis palatal 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 palatal, which means it is articulated with the middle or back part of the tongue raised to the hard palate.
  • 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 palatal clicks are only found in the various Khoisan language families of southern Africa and in the neighboring Yeyi language.

Language Word IPA Meaning
ǂHaba ǂHaba [ǂʰabá] = [ʄʰabá] (endonym)
Khoekhoe ǂgā-amǃnâ [ǂààʔám̀ᵑǃã̀ã̀] = [ʄààʔám̀ʗ̃ã̀ã̀] 'to put in the mouth'
Naro Qhomatcã
[ǃʰomaǂã] = [ʗʰomaʄã] (personal name)
Yeyi shiǂa [ʃiǂa] = [ʃiʄa] 'scarification'


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