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Bilabial consonant

In phonetics, a bilabial consonant is a labial consonant articulated with both lips.


Bilabial consonants are very common across languages. Only around 0.7% of the world's languages lack bilabial consonants altogether, including Tlingit, Chipewyan, Oneida, and Wichita,[1] though all of these have a labial–velar approximant /w/.


The bilabial consonants identified by the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) are:

IPA Description Example
Language Orthography IPA Meaning
voiceless bilabial nasal Hmong Hmoob [m̥ɔ̃́] Hmong
m voiced bilabial nasal English man [mæn] man
p voiceless bilabial plosive English spin [spɪn] spin
b voiced bilabial plosive English bed [bɛd] bed
p͡ɸ voiceless bilabial affricate Kaingang[2] fy [ˈp͡ɸɤ] 'seed'
b͡β voiced bilabial affricate Shipibo[3] boko [ˈb͡βo̽ko̽] 'small intestine'
ɸ voiceless bilabial fricative Japanese 富士山 (fujisan) [ɸuʑisaɴ] Mount Fuji
β voiced bilabial fricative Ewe ɛʋɛ [ɛ̀βɛ̀] Ewe
β̞ bilabial approximant Spanish lobo [loβ̞o] wolf
ⱱ̟ voiced bilabial flap Mono[4] vwa [ⱱ̟a] 'send'
ʙ̥ voiceless bilabial trill Pará Arára[5] [ʙ̥uta] 'to throw away'
ʙ voiced bilabial trill Nias simbi [siʙi] lower jaw
bilabial ejective stop Adyghe пӀэ [a] meat
ɸʼ bilabial ejective fricative Yuchi[6] asę [ɸ’asẽ] 'good evening!'
ɓ̥ voiceless bilabial implosive Serer [example needed]
ɓ voiced bilabial implosive Jamaican Patois beat [ɓiːt] beat
k͡ʘ q͡ʘ
ɡ͡ʘ ɢ͡ʘ
ŋ͡ʘ ɴ͡ʘ
bilabial clicks (many distinct consonants) Nǁng ʘoe [k͡ʘoe] meat

Owere Igbo has a six-way contrast among bilabial stops: [p ɓ̥ b ɓ].[citation needed]

Other varieties

The extensions to the IPA also define a bilabial percussive ([ʬ] ) for smacking the lips together. A lip-smack in the non-percussive sense of the lips noisily parting would be [ʬ↓].[7]

The IPA chart shades out bilabial lateral consonants, which is sometimes read as indicating that such sounds are not possible. The fricatives [ɸ] and [β] are often lateral, but since no language makes a distinction for centrality, the allophony is not noticeable.

See also



  1. ^ Maddieson, Ian (2008), "Absence of Common Consonants", in Haspelmath, Martin; Dryer, Matthew S.; Gil, David; Comrie, Bernard (eds.), The World Atlas of Language Structures Online, Munich: Max Planck Digital Library
  2. ^ Jolkesky (2009), pp. 680–681.
  3. ^ Valenzuela, Márquez Pinedo & Maddieson (2001).
  4. ^ Olson (2004:233)
  5. ^ de Souza, Isaac Costa (2010). "3" (PDF). A Phonological Description of "Pet Talk" in Arara (MA). SIL Brazil. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-10-12. Retrieved 2014-01-09.
  6. ^ Crawford, James M. (1973). "Yuchi Phonology". International Journal of American Linguistics. 39 (3): 173–179. doi:10.1086/465261. S2CID 224808560.
  7. ^ Heselwood, Barry (2013). Phonetic Transcription in Theory and Practice. Edinburgh University Press. p. 121. doi:10.3366/edinburgh/9780748640737.001.0001. ISBN 978-0-7486-4073-7. JSTOR 10.3366/j.ctt9qdrqz. S2CID 60269763.


General references

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Bilabial consonant
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