Lateral nasal click

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Lateral nasal click

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The lateral nasal 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 ⟨ǁ̃⟩ or ⟨ᵑǁ⟩; a symbol abandoned by the IPA but still preferred by some linguists is ⟨ʖ̃⟩ or ⟨ᵑʖ⟩.


Features of the lateral nasal 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 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.
  • It is a lateral consonant, which means it is produced by directing the airstream over the sides of the tongue, rather than down the middle.


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

Language Word IPA Meaning
ǃKung an [ᵑǁàŋ] = [ʖ̃àŋ] 'marama bean'
!Xóõ ǁnáã [ᵑǁɑ́ɑ̃] = [ʖ̃ɑ́ɑ̃] 'grewia berry'
Hadza konxa [koᵑǁa] = [koʖ̃a] 'to be a pair'
Zulu inxeba [iᵑǁɛ́ːɓa] = [iʖ̃ɛ́ːɓa] 'wound'

Glottalized lateral nasal click

lateral nasal click

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All Khoisan languages, and a few Bantu languages, have glottalized nasal clicks. These are formed by closing the glottis so that the click is pronounced in silence; however, any preceding vowel will be nasalized.

Language Word IPA Meaning
Hadza slaxxa [ɬaᵑǁˀa] = [ɬaʖ̃ˀa] 'a split'
Khoekhoe tsoatsoaǁaposa [tsȍàtsòȁᵑǁˀàpòsa̋] = [tsȍàtsòȁʖ̃ˀàpòsa̋] 'principled'
Xhosa inkxumo [iᵑǁˀumo] = [iʖ̃ˀumo] 'a support'