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The glottal stop, or more fully, the voiceless glottal plosive, is a type of consonantal sound used in many spoken languages produced by obstructing airflow in the vocal tract. In English, the feature is represented, for example, by the hyphen in uh-oh! and by the apostrophe or ʻokina in Hawaiʻi among those using a preservative pronunciation of that name.
The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is ⟨ʔ⟩. It is called the glottal stop because the technical term for the gap between the vocal folds, which is closed up in the production of this sound, is the glottis.
Phonetic and phonological features
Features of the glottal stop:
- Its manner of articulation is stop, or plosive, which means it is produced by obstructing airflow in the vocal tract. (The term plosive contrasts with nasal stops, where the blocked airflow is redirected through the nose.)
- Its phonation is voiceless, which means it is produced without vibration of the vocal cords; necessarily so, because the vocal cords are held tightly together, preventing vibration.
- It is an oral consonant, which means air is allowed to escape through the mouth only.
- 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.
Phonology and symbolization of the glottal stop in selected languages
While this segment is not a written phoneme in English, it is present phonetically in nearly all dialects of English as an allophone of /t/ in the syllable coda. Speakers of Cockney, Scottish English and several other British dialects also pronounce an intervocalic /t/ between vowels as in city. Standard English inserts a glottal stop before a tautosyllabic voiceless plosive, e.g. sto’p, tha’t, kno’ck, wa’tch, also lea’p, soa’k, hel’p, pin’ch.
In many languages that don't allow a sequence of vowels, such as Persian, the glottal stop may be used to break up such a hiatus. There are intricate interactions between falling tone and the glottal stop in the histories of such languages as Danish (cf. stød), Chinese and Thai.
In the traditional Romanization of many languages, such as Arabic, the glottal stop is transcribed with an apostrophe, ⟨’⟩, and this is the source of the IPA character ⟨ʔ⟩. In many Polynesian languages that use the Latin alphabet, however, the glottal stop is written with a reversed apostrophe, ⟨‘⟩ (called ‘okina in Hawaiian), which, confusingly, is also used to transcribe the Arabic ayin and is the source of the IPA character for the voiced pharyngeal fricative ⟨ʕ⟩. In Malay the glottal stop is represented by the letter ⟨k⟩, in Võro and Maltese by ⟨q⟩.
Other scripts also have letters used for representing the glottal stop, such as the Hebrew letter aleph ⟨א⟩, and the Cyrillic letter palochka ⟨Ӏ⟩ used in several Caucasian languages. In Tundra Nenets it is represented by the letters apostrophe ⟨ʼ⟩ and double apostrophe ⟨ˮ⟩. In Japanese, glottal stops occur at the end of interjections of surprise or anger, and are represented by the character っ.
In the graphic representation of most Philippine languages, the glottal stop has no consistent symbolization. In most cases, however, a word that begins with a vowel-letter (e.g. Tagalog aso 'dog') is always pronounced with an unrepresented glottal stop before that vowel (as also in Modern German and Hausa). Some orthographies employ a hyphen, instead of the reverse apostrophe, if the glottal stop occurs in the middle of the word (e.g. Tagalog pag-ibig 'love'). When it occurs in the end of a Tagalog word, the last vowel is written with a circumflex accent (if the accent is on the last syllable) or a grave accent (if the accent occurs at the penultimate syllable).
Some Canadian indigenous languages have adopted the phonetic symbol "ʔ" itself as part of their orthographies. In some of them, it occurs as a pair of uppercase and lowercase characters, Ɂ and ɂ.
|Abkhaz||аи||[ʔaj]||'no'||See Abkhaz phonology|
|Arabic||Standard||أغاني||[ʔaˈɣaːniː]||'songs'||See Arabic phonology, Hamza|
|Metropolitan dialects||شقة||[ˈʃæʔʔæ]||'apartment'||Metropolitan dialects including Egyptian Arabic. Corresponds to /q/ in Literary Arabic.|
|Chechen||кхоъ / qo'||[qoʔ]||'three'|
|Danish||hånd||[hɞnʔ]||'hand'||See Danish phonology|
|Dutch||beamen||[bəʔamə(n)]||'to confirm'||See Dutch phonology|
|English||Cockney||cat||[kʰɛ̝ʔ]||'cat'||Allophone of /t/. See glottalization and English phonology|
|RP, North American||button||[bʌʔn̩]||'button'|
|Finnish||linja-auto||[ˈlinjɑʔˌɑuto]||'bus'||See Finnish phonology|
|French||haut||[ʔo]||'high'||Some speakers. See French phonology|
|German||northern dialects||Beamter||[bəˈʔamtɐ]||'civil servant'||See German phonology|
|Guaraní||avañe’ẽ||[aʋaɲẽˈʔẽ]||'Guaraní'||Occurs only between vowels|
|Hawaiian||ʻeleʻele||[ˈʔɛlɛˈʔɛlɛ]||'black'||See Hawaiian phonology|
|Hebrew||מאמר||[maʔamaʁ]||'article'||See Modern Hebrew phonology|
|Javanese||anak||[anaʔ]||'child'||Allophone of /k/ in morpheme-final position|
|Indonesian||bakso||[ˌbaʔˈso]||'meatball'||Allophone of /k/ or /ɡ/ in the syllable coda|
|Korean||일등/ildeung||[ʔilt̤ɯŋ]||'the first place'||See Korean phonology|
|Malay||tidak||[ˈtidaʔ]||'no'||Allophone of final /k/ in the syllable coda, pronounced before consonants or at end of word|
|Nahuatl||tahtli||[taʔtɬi]||'father'||Often left unwritten|
|Nez Perce||yáakaʔ||[ˈjaːkaʔ]||'black bear'|
|Persian||معني||[maʔni]||'meaning'||See Persian phonology|
|Tagalog||iihi||[ˌʔiːˈʔiːhɛʔ]||'will urinate'||See Tagalog phonology|
|Vietnamese||oi||[ʔɔj]||'sultry'||In free variation with no glottal stop. See Vietnamese phonology|
|Võro||piniq||[ˈpinʲiʔ]||'dogs'||q is Võro plural marker (maa, kala 'land, fish'; maaq, kalaq 'lands, fishes')|
- List of phonetics topics
- Stød in Danish
- Hamza in Arabic
- Kortlandt, Frederik (1993). General Linguistics & Indo-European Reconstruction. (PDF)
- Brown, Gillian. 1977:27. Listening to spoken English. London: Longman.
- Proposal to add LATIN SMALL LETTER GLOTTAL STOP to the UCS. URL accessed on 2011-10-26.
- Thelwall (1990:37)
- Watson (2002:17)
- Gussenhoven (1992:45)
- Sivertson (1960:111)
- Roach (2004:240)
- Ladefoged (2005:139)
- Clark, Yallop & Fletcher (2007:105)
- Olson et al. (2010:206–207)
- Blevins (1994:492)
- Thompson (1959:458–461)
- Blevins, Juliette (1994), "The Bimoraic Foot in Rotuman Phonology and Morphology", Oceanic Linguistics 33 (2): 491–516, doi:10.2307/3623138
- Clark, John Ellery; Yallop, Colin; Fletcher, Janet (2007), An introduction to Phonetics and Phonology, Wiley-Blackwell, ISBN 1405130830, 9781405130837, http://books.google.com/books?id=dX5P5mxtYYIC
- Gussenhoven, Carlos (1992), "Dutch", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 22 (2): 45–47, doi:10.1017/S002510030000459X
- Ladefoged, Peter (2005), Vowels and Consonants (Second ed.), Blackwell, ISBN 0631214119
- Olson, Kenneth; Mielke, Jeff; Sanicas-Daguman, Josephine; Pebley, Carol Jean; Paterson, Hugh J., III (2010), "The phonetic status of the (inter)dental approximant", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 40 (2): 199–215, doi:10.1017/S0025100309990296
- Roach, Peter (2004), "British English: Received Pronunciation", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 34 (2): 239–245, doi:10.1017/S0025100304001768
- Schane, Sanford A (1968), French Phonology and Morphology, Boston, Mass.: M.I.T. Press, ISBN 0262190400
- Sivertsen, Eva (1960), Cockney Phonology, Oslo: University of Oslo
- Thelwall, Robin (1990), "Illustrations of the IPA: Arabic", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 20 (2): 37–41, doi:10.1017/S0025100300004266
- Thompson, Laurence (1959), "Saigon phonemics", Language 35 (3): 454–476, doi:10.2307/411232
- Watson, Janet (2002), The Phonology and Morphology of Arabic, New York: Oxford University Press, ISBN 0198241372
International Phonetic Alphabet
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