The labiodental nasal is a type of consonantal sound. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is ⟨ɱ⟩. The IPA symbol is a lowercase letter m with a leftward hook protruding from the lower right of the letter. Occasionally it is instead transcribed as an em with a dental diacritic: ⟨m̪⟩.
It is pronounced very similarly to the bilabial nasal [m], except instead of the lips touching each other, the lower lip touches the upper teeth. The position of the lips and teeth is generally the same as for the production of the other labiodental consonants, like [f] and [v], though closure is obviously incomplete for the fricatives.
Although commonly appearing in languages, it is overwhelmingly present non-phonemically, largely restricted to appear before labiodental consonants like [f] and [v]. A phonemic /ɱ/ has been reported for the Kukuya (Kukwa) dialect of Teke, where it contrasts with /m, mpf, mbv/ and is "accompanied by strong protrusion of both lips". It is [ɱʷ] before /a/ and [ɱ] before /i/ and /e/, perhaps because labialization is constrained by the spread front vowels; it does not occur before back (rounded) vowels. However, there is some doubt that a true stop can be made by this gesture due to gaps between the incisors, which for many speakers would allow air to flow during the occlusion; this is particularly pertinent considering that one of the words with this consonant, /ɱáá/, means a 'gap between filed incisors,' a practice of the Teke people. That is, Teke /ɱ/ might be better characterized as a labiodental nasal approximant than as a nasal occlusive.
Nonetheless, it is common phonetically, as it is a typical allophone of /m/ and /n/ before the labiodental fricatives [f] and [v], as in English comfort, circumvent, infinitive, or invent. In Angami, it occurs as an allophone of /m/ before /ə/.
A proposal to retire the letter ⟨ɱ⟩ was made at the Kiel Convention, at the same time the extensions to the IPA were presented, with the labiodental nasal to be transcribed solely by ⟨m̪⟩, but the proposal was defeated in committee.
Features of the labiodental 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 labiodental, which means it is articulated with the lower lip and the upper teeth.
- 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.
Phonemic /ɱ/ is extremely rare. As an allophone of /m/ before [f] or [v], however, it is nearly universal.
|Catalan||càmfora||[ˈkaɱfuɾə]||'camphor'||See Catalan phonology|
|Czech||tramvaj||[ˈtraɱvaj]||'tram'||See Czech phonology|
|Danish||symfoni||[syɱfoˈniˀ]||'symphony'||See Danish phonology|
|Dutch||omvallen||[ˈʔɔɱvɑlə(n)]||'to fall over'||See Dutch phonology|
|English||symphony||[ˈsɪɱfəni]||'symphony'||See English phonology|
|Finnish||kamferi||[ˈkɑɱfe̞ri]||'camphor'||See Finnish phonology|
|Greek||έμβρυο/émvryo||[ˈe̞ɱvrio̞]||'embryo'||Learned or careful pronunciation. See Modern Greek phonology|
|Hebrew||סימפוניה||[siɱˈfoɲa]||'symphony'||See Modern Hebrew phonology|
|Italian||invece||[iɱˈveːt͡ʃe]||'on the contrary'||See Italian phonology|
|Macedonian||трамвај||[traɱˈvaj]||'tram'||See Macedonian phonology|
|Norwegian||komfyr||[kɔɱˈfyːɾ]||'stove'||See Norwegian phonology|
|Romanian||învăța||[ɨɱˈvət͡sä]||'to learn'||See Romanian phonology|
|Serbo-Croatian||трамвај / tramvaj||[trǎɱʋaj]||'tram'||Allophone of /m/ before /f, ʋ/. See Serbo-Croatian phonology|
|Slovene||simfonija||[siɱfɔˈníːja]||'symphony'||Allophone of /m/ and /n/ before /f/ and /ʋ/.|
|Spanish||influencia||[ĩɱˈflwẽ̞n̪θjä]||'influence'||See Spanish phonology|
|Swedish||amfibie||[aɱˈfiːbjɛ]||'amphibia'||See Swedish phonology|
|West Frisian||ûnwis||[uːɱʋɪs][stress?]||'unsure'||Allophone of /n/ before labiodental sounds.|
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