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Glottal stop

From Simple English Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Glottal stop
IPA Number113
Audio sample
Entity (decimal)ʔ
Unicode (hex)U+0294
Braille⠆ (braille pattern dots-23)

The glottal stop (or glottal plosive) is a type of consonant. The letter for this sound in the International Phonetic Alphabet is ⟨ʔ⟩. The X-SAMPA symbol for this sound is ⟨?⟩. In English, this sound is found in a few accents.

One example is the break in "uh-oh".


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Features of the glottal stop:

  • The place of articulation (where the sound is produced) is glottal. This means that this sound is produced at the vocal cords (vocal folds) and by the vocal cords.
  • The manner of articulation (how the sound is produced) is stop, or plosive. This means that this sound is produced by obstructing airflow in the vocal tract. (The term plosive contrasts with nasal stops, where the blocked airflow is redirected through the nose.)
  • It is an oral consonant. This means that air is allowed to escape through the mouth only.
  • This sound is not produced with air flowing over the tongue. So, the centrallateral dichotomy is not suitable.
  • The airstream mechanism is pulmonic. This means that this sound is produced by pushing air solely with the lungs and diaphragm, as in most sounds.
  • It has no phonation. This means that it is not a voiced or voiceless sound. This is because there is no air flow through the glottis when the sound is being made.[1]
This road sign in British Columbia is written in Squamish. The number 7 is used for /ʔ/ on this sign.

When many languages, such as Arabic, are Romanized (which means they are written with the Latin alphabet instead of their usual writing system), the glottal stop is written with the apostropheʼ⟩ or the symbol ʾ. This is where the IPA letter ⟨ʔ⟩ comes from. In many Polynesian languages that use the Latin alphabet, the glottal stop is written with a rotated apostrophe, ⟨ʻ⟩. This letter is called ‘okina in Hawaiian and Samoan. In Malay the glottal stop is written with the letter ⟨k⟩ (at the end of words). In Võro and Maltese, it is written with ⟨q⟩.

Other writing systems also have letters for the glottal stop. For example, the Hebrew alphabet uses the letter aleph ⟨א⟩. Cyrillic has the letter palochka ⟨Ӏ⟩. This letter is used in several Caucasian languages. Modern Latin alphabets for some Indigenous Languages of the Caucasus use the letter heng ('Ꜧ ꜧ'). In Tundra Nenets, it is written with the letters apostrophe ⟨ʼ⟩ and double apostrophe ⟨ˮ⟩. In Japanese, glottal stops occur at the end of interjections of surprise or anger and are written with ⟨⟩.

When most Philippine languages are written, the glottal stop is not written all the time. Usually, a word that begins with a vowel (for example, Tagalog aso, "dog") is always pronounced with a glottal stop before that vowel. (This also happens in Modern German and Hausa.) This glottal stop is not written. Some orthographies (or ways of writing words) use a hyphen instead of the reverse apostrophe if the glottal stop is in the middle of the word (e.g. Tagalog pag-ibig, "love"; or Visayan gabi-i, "night"). If it is at the end of a word, the last vowel is written with a circumflex accent (known as the pakupyâ) if the last vowel is stressed and there is a glottal stop in the final vowel (for example, basâ, "wet"). If the stress is on the penultimate, or second-to-last, syllable, then a grave accent (known as the paiwà) is used (for example, batà, "child").[2][3][4]

Some Canadian indigenous languages, especially some of the Salishan languages, use the letter ʔ itself as part of their writing systems. In some of them, there are uppercase and lowercase letters for the glottal stop: Ɂ and ɂ.[5] The number 7 or question mark is sometimes used instead of ʔ. Some languages, such as Squamish, use this instead of ʔ. SENĆOŦEN uses the comma ⟨,⟩ to write the glottal stop. However, this is optional in SENĆOŦEN.

In 2015, two women challenged the government of the Northwest Territories. They wanted to use the ʔ character in their daughters' names: Sahaiʔa, a Chipewyan name, and Sakaeʔah, a Slavey name. The government told them that the identity documents the government uses could not have the letter ʔ on them. Because of this, the women instead used hyphens in their daughters' names. After this, they continued to challenge the government.[6]

In the Crow language, the glottal stop is written as a question mark: ?. The only time the glottal stop is used in Crow is as a question marker morpheme, at the end of a sentence. (A question marker makes a sentence into a question.)[7]


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Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Abkhaz аи/ai [ʔaj] 'no' See Abkhaz phonology.
Adyghe ӏэ/'ė [ʔa] 'arm/hand'
Arabic Modern Standard[8] أغاني/'aġani [ʔaˈɣaːniː] 'songs' See Arabic phonology, Hamza.
Levantine and Egyptian[9] شقة/ša''a [ˈʃæʔʔæ] 'apartment' Levantine and Egyptian dialects.[9] Corresponds to /q/ or /g/ in other dialects.
Fasi and Tlemcenian[10] قال/'al [ˈʔaːl] 'he said' Fasi and Tlemcenian dialects. Corresponds to /q/ or /g/ in other dialects.
Azeri ər [ʔær] 'husband'
bantawa चा:वा [t͡saʔwa] 'drinking water'
Bikol bàgo [ˈbaːʔɡo] 'new'
Bulgarian ъ-ъ/ŭ-ŭ [ˈʔɤʔɤ] 'nope'
Burmese မြစ်များ/rcī mya: [mjiʔ mjà] 'rivers'
Cebuano tubò [ˈtuboʔ] 'to grow'
Chamorro haluʼu [həluʔu] 'shark'
Ingush кхоъ / qoʼ [qoʔ] 'three'
Chinese Cantonese /oi3 [ʔɔːi˧] 'love' See Cantonese phonology.
Wu 一级了/yi ji le [ʔiɪʔ.tɕiɪʔ.ʔləʔ] 'superb'
Cook Islands Māori taʻi [taʔi] 'one'
Czech používat [poʔuʒiːvat] 'to use' See Czech phonology.
Dahalo 'water' see Dahalo phonology
Danish hånd [ˈhʌ̹nʔ] 'hand' Depends on the speaker's accent. Sometimes, it can be pronounced as laryngealisation of the sound before it instead. See Danish phonology.
Dutch[11] beamen [bəʔˈaːmə(n)] 'to confirm' See Dutch phonology.
English RP uh-oh [ˈɐʔəʊ] 'uh-oh'
Australian cat [kʰæʔ(t)] 'cat' Allophone of /t/. See glottalization and English phonology.
Estuary [kʰæʔ]
Cockney[12] [kʰɛ̝ʔ]
Scottish [kʰäʔ]
Northern England the [ʔ] 'the'
RP[13] and GA button audio speaker icon[ˈbɐʔn̩]  'button'
Finnish sadeaamu [ˈsɑdeʔˌɑ:mu] 'rainy morning' See Finnish phonology.[14]
German Northern Beamter [bəˈʔamtɐ] 'civil servant' See Standard German phonology.
Guaraní avañeʼ [ãʋ̃ãɲẽˈʔẽ] 'Guaraní' This only happens between vowels.
Hawaiian[15] ʻeleʻele [ˈʔɛlɛˈʔɛlɛ] 'black' See Hawaiian phonology.
Hebrew מַאֲמָר/ma'amar [maʔămaʁ] 'article' See Modern Hebrew phonology.
Icelandic en [ʔɛn] 'but' Only used according to emphasis, never occurring in minimal pairs.
Iloko nalab-ay [nalabˈʔaj] 'bland tasting'
Indonesian bakso [ˌbäʔˈso] 'meatball' Allophone of /k/ or /ɡ/ in the syllable coda, or the end of a syllable.
Japanese Kagoshima 学校 gakkō [gaʔkoː] 'school' Written with 'っ' in Hiragana, and with 'ッ' in Katakana.
Javanese[16] ꦲꦤꦏ꧀ [änäʔ] 'child' Allophone of /k/ in morpheme-final position.
Jedek[17] [wɛ̃ʔ] 'left side'
Kabardian ӏэ/'ė [ʔa] 'arm/hand'
Kagayanen[18] saag [saˈʔaɡ] 'floor'
Khasi lyoh [lʔɔːʔ] 'cloud'
Khmer សិទ្ធិ / sĕtthĭ [səttʰiʔ] 'rights' See Khmer phonology
Korean /il [ʔil] 'one' In free variation with no glottal stop. (This means that someone can either pronounce it with a glottal stop or without one, and both ways of pronouncing it are correct.) Occurs only at the start of a word.
Malay Standard tidak [ˈtidäʔ] 'no' Allophone of final /k/ in the syllable coda (or the end of a syllable). It is pronounced before consonants and at end of the a word. In other parts of a word, /ʔ/ is only pronounced in loanwords from Arabic. See Malay phonology.
Kelantan-Pattani ikat [ˌiˈkäʔ] ˌ'to tie' Allophone of final /k, p, t/ in the syllable coda (or the end of a syllable). It is pronounced before consonants and at the end of a word. See Kelantan-Pattani Malay and Terengganu Malay.
Maltese qattus [ˈʔattus] 'cat'
Māori Taranaki, Whanganui wahine [waʔinɛ] 'woman'
Minangkabau waʼang [wäʔäŋ] 'you' Sometimes written without an apostrophe.
Mutsun tawkaʼli [tawkaʔli] 'black gooseberry'
Mingrelian ჸოროფა/?oropha [ʔɔrɔpʰɑ] 'love'
Nahuatl tahtli audio speaker icon[taʔtɬi] 'father' Often not written.
Nez Perce yáakaʔ [ˈjaːkaʔ] 'black bear'
Nheengatu[19] ai [aˈʔi] 'sloth' Transcription (or absence thereof) varies.
Okinawan /utu [ʔutu] 'sound'
Persian معنی/ma'ni [maʔni] 'meaning' See Persian phonology.
Polish era [ʔɛra] 'era' See Polish phonology.
Pirahã baíxi [ˈmàí̯ʔì] 'parent'
Portuguese[20] Vernacular Brazilian ê-ê[21] [ˌʔe̞ˈʔeː] 'yeah right'[22] Marginal sound. Does not occur after or before a consonant. In Brazilian casual speech, there is at least one [ʔ]vowel lengthpitch accent minimal pair (triply unusual, the ideophones short ih vs. long ih). See Portuguese phonology.
Some speakers à aula [ˈa ˈʔawlɐ] 'to the class'
Rotuman[23] ʻusu [ʔusu] 'to box'
Samoan maʻi [maʔi] 'sickness/illness'
Sardinian[24] Some dialects of Barbagia unu pacu [ˈuːnu paʔu] 'a little' Intervocalic allophone of /n, k, l/.
Some dialects of Sarrabus sa luna [sa ʔuʔa] 'the moon'
Serbo-Croatian[25] i onda [iː ʔô̞n̪d̪a̠] 'and then' Optionally inserted between vowels across word boundaries.[25] See Serbo-Croatian phonology.
Seri he [ʔɛ] 'I'
Somali ba' [baʔ] 'calamity' /ʔ/ occurs before all vowels. However, it is only written in the middle or at the end of a word.[26] See Somali phonology.
Spanish Nicaraguan[27] s alto [ˈma ˈʔal̻t̻o̞] 'higher' Marginal sound or allophone of /s/ between vowels in different words. Does not occur after or before a consonant. See Spanish phonology.
Yucateco[28] cuatro años [ˈkwatɾo̞ ˈʔãɲo̞s] 'four years'
Tagalog oo [oʔo] 'yes' See Tagalog phonology.
Tahitian puaʻa [puaʔa] 'pig'
Thai /'ā [ʔaː] 'uncle/aunt' (father's younger sibling)
Tongan tuʻu [tuʔu] 'stand'
Tundra Nenets выʼ/vy' [wɨʔ] 'tundra'
Vietnamese[29] oi [ʔɔj˧] 'sultry' In free variation with no glottal stop. (Free variation means that the word can be pronounced with or without a glottal stop.) See Vietnamese phonology.
Võro piniq [ˈpinʲiʔ] 'dogs' "q" is the plural marker in Võro. (A plural marker is a morpheme which makes words into plurals. For example, maa, "land"; maaq, "lands".)
Wagiman jamh [t̠ʲʌmʔ] 'to eat' (perfect)
Welayta 7írTi [ʔirʈa] 'wet'
Wallisian maʻuli [maʔuli] 'life'


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  1. Catford, J. C. (1990). "Glottal Consonants … Another View". Journal of the International Phonetic Association. 20 (2): 25–26. doi:10.1017/S0025100300004229. JSTOR 44526803. S2CID 144421504.
  2. Morrow, Paul (March 16, 2011). "The Basics of Filipino Pronunciation: Part 2 of 3 • Accent Marks". Pilipino Express. Archived from the original on December 27, 2011. Retrieved July 18, 2012.
  3. Nolasco, Ricardo M. D., Grammar Notes on the National Language (PDF).[permanent dead link]
  4. Schoellner, Joan; Heinle, Beverly D., eds. (2007). Tagalog Reading Booklet (PDF). Simon & Schister's Pimsleur. pp. 5–6. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-11-27. Retrieved 2012-07-18.
  5. Proposal to Add Latin Small Letter Glottal Stop to the UCS (PDF), 2005-08-10, archived (PDF) from the original on 2011-09-26, retrieved 2011-10-26.
  6. Browne, Rachel (12 March 2015). "What's in A Name? a Chipewyan's Battle Over Her Native Tongue". Maclean's. Archived from the original on 4 April 2015. Retrieved 5 April 2015.
  7. Graczyk, R. 2007. A Grammar of Crow: Apsáaloke Aliláau. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press.
  8. Thelwall (1990:37)
  9. 9.0 9.1 Watson (2002:17)
  10. Dendane, Zoubir (2013). "The Stigmatisation of the Glottal Stop in Tlemcen Speech Community: An Indicator of Dialect Shift". The International Journal of Linguistics and Literature. 2 (3): 1–10. Archived from the original on 2019-01-06.
  11. Gussenhoven (1992:45)
  12. Sivertsen (1960:111)
  13. Roach (2004:240)
  14. Collinder, Björn (1941). Lärobok i finska språket för krigsmakten (in Finnish). Ivar Häggström. p. 7.
  15. Ladefoged (2005:139)
  16. Clark, Yallop & Fletcher (2007:105)
  17. Yager, Joanne; Burtenhult, Niclas (2017). "Jedek: A Newly-Discovered Aslian Variety of Malaysia" (PDF). Linguistic Typology. 21 (3): 493–545. doi:10.1515/lingty-2017-0012. hdl:11858/00-001M-0000-002E-7CD2-7. S2CID 126145797. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2018-08-07. Retrieved 2018-08-07.
  18. Olson et al. (2010:206–207)
  19. Cruz, Aline da (2011). Fonologia e Gramática do Nheengatú: A língua geral falada pelos povos Baré, Warekena e Baniwa [Phonology and Grammar of Nheengatú: The general language spoken by the Baré, Warekena and Baniwa peoples] (PDF) (Doctor thesis) (in Portuguese). Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. ISBN 978-94-6093-063-8. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 7, 2014.
  20. Veloso, João; Martins, Pedro Tiago (2013). O Arquivo Dialetal do CLUP: disponibilização on-line de um corpus dialetal do português. XXVIII Encontro Nacional da Associação Portuguesa de Linguística, Coimbra, APL (in Portuguese). pp. 673–692. ISBN 978-989-97440-2-8. Archived from the original on 2014-03-06.
  21. Phonetic Symbols for Portuguese Phonetic Transcription (PDF), October 2012, archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-11-08 – via users.ox.ac.uk. In European Portuguese, the "é é" interjection usually employs an epenthetic /i/, being pronounced [e̞ˈje̞] instead.
  22. It may be used mostly as a general call of attention for disapproval, disagreement or inconsistency, but also serves as a synonym of the multiuse expression "eu, hein!". (in Portuguese) How to say 'eu, hein' in English – Adir Ferreira Idiomas Archived 2013-07-08 at the Wayback Machine
  23. Blevins (1994:492)
  24. Grimaldi, Lucia; Mensching, Guido, eds. (2004). Su sardu limba de Sardigna et limba de Europa (PDF). Cooperativa Universitaria Editrice Cagliaritana. pp. 110–111. ISBN 88-8467-170-1. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-12-05.
  25. 25.0 25.1 Landau et al. (1999:67)
  26. Edmondson, J. A.; Esling, J. H.; Harris, J. G., Supraglottal Cavity Shape, Linguistic Register, and Other Phonetic Features of Somali, CiteSeerX
  27. Chappell, Whitney, The Hypo-Hyperarticulation Continuum in Nicaraguan Spanish (PDF), archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-03-07, retrieved 2014-03-07 – via nwav42.pitt.edu.
  28. Michnowicz, Jim; Carpenter, Lindsey, Voiceless Stop Aspiration in Yucatán Spanish: A Sociolinguistic Analysis (PDF), archived (PDF) from the original on 2014-03-07, retrieved 2014-03-07 – via etd.lib.ncsu.edu.
  29. Thompson (1959:458–461)


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