Retroflex nasal

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Retroflex nasal
IPA number 117
Entity (decimal) ɳ
Unicode (hex) U+0273
Kirshenbaum n.
Braille ⠲ (braille pattern dots-256) ⠝ (braille pattern dots-1345)

The retroflex nasal is a type of consonantal sound, used in some spoken languages. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is ⟨ɳ⟩, and the equivalent X-SAMPA symbol is n`. Like all the retroflex consonants, the IPA symbol is formed by adding a rightward-pointing hook extending from the bottom of an en (the letter used for the corresponding alveolar consonant). It is similar to ⟨ɲ⟩, the letter for the palatal nasal, which has a leftward-pointing hook extending from the bottom of the left stem, and to ⟨ŋ⟩, the letter for the velar nasal, which has a leftward-pointing hook extending from the bottom of the right stem.


Features of the retroflex 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 retroflex, which prototypically means it is articulated subapical (with the tip of the tongue curled up), but more generally, it means that it is postalveolar without being palatalized. That is, besides the prototypical sub-apical articulation, the tongue contact can be apical (pointed) or laminal (flat).
  • 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
Enindhilyagwa yingarna [jiŋaɳa] 'snake'
Hindi गणेश [ɡəɳeʃ] 'Ganesha' See Hindi phonology
Kannada ಅಣೆ [ʌɳe] 'dam'
Khanty Eastern dialects еңә [eɳə] 'large'
Some northern dialects
Malayalam[1] അണ [aɳə] 'jaw'
Marathi बा [baːɳ] 'arrow' See Marathi phonology
Marshallese Ņadikdik [ɳˠɑrʲiɯɡɯirʲiɯk] 'Knox Atoll'
Norwegian garn About this sound [ɡɑːɳ]  'yarn' See Norwegian phonology
Oriya ବଣି [bɔɳi] 'old'
Pashto اتڼ/Ata About this sound [at̪aɳ]  'Attan'
Punjabi ਪੁਰਾਣਾ / پُراڻا [pʊraːɳaː] 'old'
Swedish[2] garn About this sound [ɡɑːɳ]  'yarn' See Swedish phonology
Tamil[3] அணல் [aɳal] 'neck' See Tamil phonology
Telugu ఒణ్ఢు [oɳɖu] 'cook'
Vietnamese[4] bạn trả [ɓaɳ˧ˀ˨ʔ ʈa˧˩˧] 'you pay' Allophone of /n/ before /ʈ/. See Vietnamese phonology
Westrobothnian eran [ɛːrɑɳ] 'errand' Allophone of [n], see Westrobothnian

See also



  • Eliasson, Stig (1986), "Sandhi in Peninsular Scandinavian", in Anderson, Henning (ed.), Sandhi Phenomena in the Languages of Europe, Berlin: de Gruyter, pp. 271–300<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Keane, Elinor (2004), "Tamil", Journal of the International Phonetic Association, 34 (1): 111–116, doi:10.1017/S0025100304001549<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Ladefoged, Peter (2005), Vowels and Consonants (Second ed.), Blackwell<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Thompson, Laurence (1959), "Saigon phonemics", Language, 35 (3): 454–476, doi:10.2307/411232, JSTOR 411232<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>