Dental nasal click

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Dental nasal click
Kirshenbaum n!

The dental 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 ⟨ǀ̃⟩ or ⟨ᵑǀ⟩; a symbol abandoned by the IPA but still preferred by some linguists is ⟨ʇ̃⟩ or ⟨ᵑʇ⟩.


Features of the dental 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 place of articulation is dental, which means it is articulated with either the tip or the blade of the tongue at the upper teeth, termed respectively apical and laminal. Note that most stops and liquids described as dental are actually denti-alveolar.
  • 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 central consonant, which means it is produced by directing the airstream along the center of the tongue, rather than to the sides.


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

Language Word IPA Meaning
Hadza minca [miᵑǀa] = [miʇ̃a] 'to smack one's lips'
Khoekhoe ǀnam [ǀnȁm̀] = [ʇ̃ȁm̀] 'to love'
Zulu incwancwa [iᵑǀwáːᵑǀwa] = [iʇ̃wáːʇ̃wa] 'sour corn meal'

Glottalized dental nasal click

dental nasal click

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 tacce [taᵑǀˀe] = [taʇ̃ˀe] 'rope'
Khoekhoe ǀoroǀoro [ᵑǀˀòɾőᵑǀˀòɾȍ] = [ʇ̃ˀòɾőʇ̃ˀòɾȍ] 'to wear s.t. out'
Naro Xgaoc’õ [ǁχao̯ᵑǀˀõ] = [ʖχao̯ʇ̃ˀõ] (personal name)
Xhosa umchankcatho [umǀʰaᵑǀˀatʰo] = [umʇʰaʇ̃ˀatʰo] 'a bridge'