Palatal nasal

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Palatal nasal
IPA number 118
Entity (decimal) ɲ
Unicode (hex) U+0272
Kirshenbaum n^
Braille ⠿ (braille pattern dots-123456)
Alveolo-palatal nasal

The palatal nasal is a type of consonant, used in some spoken languages. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is ⟨ɲ⟩,[1] a lowercase letter n with a leftward-pointing tail protruding from the bottom of the left stem of the letter. The equivalent X-SAMPA symbol is J. The IPA symbol ⟨ɲ⟩ is similar to ⟨ɳ⟩, the symbol for the retroflex nasal, which has a rightward-pointing hook extending from the bottom of the right stem, and to ⟨ŋ⟩, the symbol for the velar nasal, which has a leftward-pointing hook extending from the bottom of the right stem.

Palatal nasals are more common than the palatal stops, [c] and [ɟ].[2] In Spanish and languages whose writing systems are influenced by Spanish orthography, this sound is represented with the letter eñe (ñ); the same is true for Occitan, the source of the Portuguese digraph ene-agá (nh), used by languages whose writing systems are influenced by Portuguese orthography, such as Vietnamese; in Catalan, Hungarian and many African languages, as Swahili or Dinka, the digraph ny is used.

The alveolo-palatal nasal is a type of consonantal sound, used in some oral languages. There is no dedicated symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound. If more precision is desired, it may be transcribed ⟨n̠ʲ⟩ or ⟨ɲ̟⟩; these are essentially equivalent, since the contact includes both the blade and body (but not the tip) of the tongue. There is a non-IPA letter ⟨ȵ⟩, used especially in Sinological circles.

The alveolo-palatal nasal is commonly described as palatal; it is often unclear whether a language has a true palatal or not. Many languages claimed to have a palatal nasal, such as Portuguese, actually have an alveolo-palatal nasal. This is likely true of several of the languages listed here. Some dialects of Irish as well as some non-standard dialects of Malayalam are reported to contrast alveolo-palatal and palatal nasals.[3][4]

There is also a post-palatal nasal (also called pre-velar, fronted velar etc.) in some languages.


Features of the voiced palatal 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 palatal, which means it is articulated with the middle or back part of the tongue raised to the hard palate.
  • 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 centrallateral 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.


Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
!Kung [example needed] Represented by ⟨ny⟩[5]
Albanian një [ɲə] 'one'
Aranda [example needed] Alveolo-palatal and dento-alveolo-palatal.[6]
Basque andereño [än̪d̪e̞ɾe̞ɲo̞] 'teacher (f)'
Burmese[7] ညာ [ɲà] 'right(-hand side)' Contrasts with the voiceless palatal nasal /ɲ̥/.
Catalan[8] any [ˈaɲ̟] 'year' Alveolo-palatal or palatal.[6] See Catalan phonology
Chinese Wu 女人/gniugnin [ȵy˩˧ȵiȵ˥˨] 'woman' Alveolo-palatal
Czech ň [kuːɲ] 'horse' May be intermediate between palatal and alveolo-palatal.[4] See Czech phonology
Dinka nyɔt [ɲɔt] 'very'
Dutch[9] oranje [oˈrɑɲə] 'orange' Not all dialects. See Dutch phonology
French[10] agneau [äˈɲo] 'lamb' Alveolo-palatal or palatal.[6] Merging with /nj/. See French phonology
Galician viño [ˈbiɲo] 'wine' Formerly approximant in some words (eg. vīnum > vĩo [ˈvĩj̃o] > viño).[11][12]
Greek πρωτοχρονιά/prōtochroniá [pro̞to̞xro̞ˈɲ̟ɐ] 'New Year's Day' Alveolo-palatal.[13] See Modern Greek phonology
Hungarian[14] anya [ˈɒɲɒ] 'mother' Alveolo-palatal with alveolar contact.[6] See Hungarian phonology
Indonesian banyak [ˈbäɲäk] 'a lot'
Italian Standard bagno [ˈbäɲːo] 'bath' Postalveolo-prepalatal.[15] See Italian phonology
Romanesco dialect niente [ˈɲːɛn̪t̪e] 'nothing'
Irish[3] inné [əˈn̠ʲeː] 'yesterday' Irish contrasts alveolo-palatal /n̠ʲ/, palatal/palatovelar /ɲ/, velar /ŋ/ and, in some dialects, palatalized alveolar /nʲ/.[16][17][18][3] See Irish phonology
a ngé [əˈɲeː] 'their goose'
Japanese[19] /niwa [n̠ʲiwᵝa] 'garden' Alveolar or dento-alveolar.[6] See Japanese phonology
Korean 고니/goni [ko̞n̠ʲi] 'swan' Alveolo-palatal. See Korean phonology
Latvian mākoņains [maːkuɔɲains] 'cloudy'
Macedonian чешање/češanje [ˈt͡ʃɛʃaɲɛ] 'itching'
Malagasy[6] [example needed] Palatal.
Malay banyak [bäɲäʔ] 'a lot'
Malayalam[20] ഞാന് [ɲäːn] 'I'
North Frisian Mooring fliinj [ˈfliːɲ] 'to fly'
Norwegian Northern[21] mann [mɑɲː] 'man' See Norwegian phonology
Occitan Northern Polonha [puˈluɲo̞] 'Poland' Simultaneous alveolo-palatal and dento-alveolar or dento-alveolo-palatal.[6] See Occitan phonology
Gascon banh [baɲ] 'bath'
Polish[22] koń About this sound [kɔɲ̟]  'horse' Alveolo-palatal. May be replaced by a nasal palatal approximant in coda position or before fricatives. See Polish phonology
Portuguese Many dialects[23] nia [ˈson̠ʲɐ] 'Sonia' Possible realization of post-stressed /ni/ plus vowel.
Brazilian[23][24] sonha [ˈsoɲɐ] 'it dreams' Central palatal, not the same that /ʎ/ which is pre-palatal.[25] May instead be approximant[11][12] in Brazil and Africa. See Portuguese phonology
European[26] arranhar [ɐʁɐ̃ˈn̠ʲaɾ] 'to scratch' Dento-alveolo-palatal.[6]
Quechua ñuqa [ˈɲɔqɑ] 'I'
Romanian Transylvanian dialects[27] câine [ˈkɨɲe̞] 'dog' Alveolo-palatal.[27] corresponds to [n] in standard Romanian. See Romanian phonology
Scottish Gaelic[28] seinn [ʃeiɲ̟] 'sing' Alveolo-palatal. See Scottish Gaelic phonology
Serbo-Croatian питање / pitanje About this sound [pǐːt̪äːɲ̟e̞]  'question' Alveolo-palatal. See Serbo-Croatian phonology
Slovak pečeň [ˈpɛt͡ʃɛɲ] 'liver' Alveolar.[6]
Spanish[29] enseñar [ẽ̞nse̞ˈɲär] 'to teach' Simultaneous alveolo-palatal and dento-alveolar or dento-alveolo-palatal.[6] See Spanish phonology
Ukrainian тінь [t̪in̠ʲ] 'shadow' Alveolo-palatal. See Ukrainian phonology
Vietnamese nhà [ɲâː] 'house' "Laminoalveolar".[30] See Vietnamese phonology
West Frisian njonken [ˈɲoŋkən] 'next to'
Yanyuwa[31] [l̪uwaɲ̄u] 'strip of turtle fat' Post-palatal;[31] contrasts with post-velar nasal.[31]
Yi /nyi [n̠ʲi˧] 'sit' Alveolo-palatal
Zulu inyoni [iɲ̟óːni] 'bird' Alveolo-palatal.[6]

See also


  1. Ladefoged (2005), p. xviii.
  2. Ladefoged (2005), p. 163.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Ní Chasaide (1999).
  4. 4.0 4.1 Ladefoged & Maddieson (1996), p. 33.
  5. Doke (1925), p. ?.
  6. 6.00 6.01 6.02 6.03 6.04 6.05 6.06 6.07 6.08 6.09 6.10 Recasens (2013), p. 11.
  7. Ladefoged & Maddieson (1996), p. 111.
  8. Carbonell & Llisterri (1992), p. 53.
  9. Gussenhoven (1992), p. 46.
  10. Fougeron & Smith (1993), p. 73.
  11. 11.0 11.1 Portuguese vinho: diachronic evidence for biphonemic nasal vowels
  12. 12.0 12.1 Mattos e Silva (1991), p. 73.
  13. Arvaniti (2007), p. 20.
  14. Ladefoged (2005), p. 164.
  15. Recasens et al. (1993), p. 222.
  16. Quiggin (1906).
  17. de Bhaldraithe (1966).
  18. Mhac an Fhailigh (1968).
  19. Okada (1991), p. 95.
  20. Ladefoged (2005), p. 165.
  21. 21.0 21.1 Skjekkeland (1997), pp. 105–107.
  22. Jassem (2003), pp. 103–104.
  23. 23.0 23.1 Considerações sobre o status das palato-alveolares em português, p. 12.
  24. Aragão (2009), p. 168.
  25. Cagliari 1974, p. 77. Citation:Em português, o [ɲ] se aproxima mais do [ŋ] do que do [n]; por isso será classificado como "central" e não como pré-palatal. O [ʎ] em muitas línguas se realiza como "central"; em português, [ʎ] tende a [lj] e se realiza sempre na região prepalatal.
  26. Cruz-Ferreira (1995), p. 91.
  27. 27.0 27.1 Pop (1938), p. 30.
  28. Oftedal (1956), p. ?.
  29. Martínez-Celdrán, Fernández-Planas & Carrera-Sabaté (2003), p. 255.
  30. Thompson (1959), pp. 460.
  31. 31.0 31.1 31.2 Ladefoged & Maddieson (1996), pp. 34-35.


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