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Dental and alveolar ejective stops

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Alveolar ejective stop
Audio sample
Entity (decimal)t​ť
Unicode (hex)U+0074 U+0165
Dental ejective stop
Entity (decimal)t​̪​ť
Unicode (hex)U+0074 U+032A U+0165

The alveolar and dental ejective stops are types of consonantal sound, usually described as voiceless, that are pronounced with a glottalic egressive airstream. In the International Phonetic Alphabet, ejectives are indicated with a "modifier letter apostrophe" ⟨ʼ⟩,[1] as in this article. A reversed apostrophe is sometimes used to represent light aspiration, as in Armenian linguistics ⟨p‘ t‘ k‘⟩; this usage is obsolete in the IPA. In other transcription traditions, the apostrophe represents palatalization: ⟨pʼ⟩ = IPA ⟨pʲ⟩. In some Americanist traditions, an apostrophe indicates weak ejection and an exclamation mark strong ejection: ⟨k̓ , k!⟩. In the IPA, the distinction might be written ⟨kʼ, kʼʼ⟩, but it seems that no language distinguishes degrees of ejection.

In alphabets using the Latin script, an IPA-like apostrophe for ejective consonants is common. However, there are other conventions. In Hausa, the hooked letter ƙ is used for /kʼ/. In Zulu and Xhosa, whose ejection is variable between speakers, plain consonant letters are used: p t k ts tsh kr for /pʼ tʼ kʼ tsʼ tʃʼ kxʼ/. In some conventions for Haida and Hadza, double letters are used: tt kk qq ttl tts for /tʼ kʼ qʼ tɬʼ tsʼ/ (Haida) and zz jj dl gg for /tsʼ tʃʼ cʎ̥˔ʼ kxʼ/ (Hadza).

In Oromo /tʼ/ is written as ⟨x⟩.


Features of the alveolar ejective:

  • Its manner of articulation is occlusive, which means it is produced by obstructing airflow in the vocal tract. Since the consonant is also oral, with no nasal outlet, the airflow is blocked entirely, and the consonant is a plosive.
  • There are four specific variants of [tʼ]:
    • 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.
    • Denti-alveolar, which means it is articulated with the blade of the tongue at the alveolar ridge, and the tip of the tongue behind upper teeth.
    • Alveolar, which means it is articulated with either the tip or the blade of the tongue at the alveolar ridge, termed respectively apical and laminal.
    • Postalveolar, which means it is articulated with either the tip or the blade of the tongue behind the alveolar ridge, termed respectively apical and laminal.
  • Its phonation is voiceless, which means it is produced without vibrations of the vocal cords.
  • It is an oral consonant, which means air is allowed to escape through the mouth only.
  • 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.
  • The airstream mechanism is ejective (glottalic egressive), which means the air is forced out by pumping the glottis upward.


Dental or denti-alveolar

Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Dahalo[2] [t̪ʼat̪t̪a] 'hair' Laminal denti-alveolar, contrasts with alveolar ejective.[3]


Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Adyghe ятӀэ/i͡atḣė [jaːtʼa] 'dirt'
Amharic ጥጃ/ṭəǧǧa/t'ejah/tehǧa [tʼɨd͡ʒːa] 'calf'
Armenian Yerevan dialect[4] տասը/tasə [ˈtʼɑsə] 'ten' Corresponds to tenuis [t⁼] in other Eastern dialects
Chechen тӏай / thay / طای [tʼəj] 'bridge'
Dahalo[2] [t̺ʼirimalle] 'spider' Apical, contrasts with laminal denti-alveolar ejective.[3]
Ganza[5]: 95  [tʼóɗó] 'black'
Georgian ტიტა/t'it'a [ˈtʼitʼä] 'tulip'
Haida qqayttas [qʼajtʼas] 'basket'
Kabardian тӀы / ţə / طە [tʼə] 'ram'
Kawésqar t'ǽrkse [tʼǽɾkse] 'spicy'
Khwarshi тӀая/t'aja [tʼaja] 'to drop'
Mingrelian ყები/t'q'ɛbi [ˈtʼqʼɛbi] 'leather'
Navajo yáʼáééh [jáʔátʼɛ́ːh] or [jáʔátʼéːh] 'greetings' or 'hello' literally 'it is good'[6]
Nez Perce eyíieyii [tʼæˈjiːtʼæjiː] 'flat'
Ossetian Iron стъалы/sthaly [ˈstʼäɫɪ̈] 'star'
Quechua anta [tʼæntæ] 'bread'
Svan ჷნ/tʼən [tʼən] 'body'

See also


  1. ^ "The International Phonetic Alphabet and the IPA Chart | International Phonetic Association". Retrieved 2018-04-01.
  2. ^ a b Maddieson et al. (1993), p. 27.
  3. ^ a b Maddieson et al. (1993), pp. 27–28.
  4. ^ Dum-Tragut (2009:17–18)
  5. ^ Smolders, Joshua (2016). "A Phonology of Ganza" (pdf). Linguistic Discovery. 14 (1): 86–144. doi:10.1349/PS1.1537-0852.A.470. Retrieved 2017-01-16.
  6. ^ "What does "Yá'át'ééh" mean? (Navajo Greeting)". YouTube. December 30, 2019. Retrieved September 21, 2021.


  • Dum-Tragut, Jasmine (2009), Armenian: Modern Eastern Armenian, Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company
  • Maddieson, Ian; Spajić, Siniša; Sands, Bonny; Ladefoged, Peter (1993), "Phonetic structures of Dahalo", in Maddieson, Ian (ed.), UCLA working papers in phonetics: Fieldwork studies of targeted languages, vol. 84, Los Angeles: The UCLA Phonetics Laboratory Group, pp. 25–65
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Dental and alveolar ejective stops
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