Dental and alveolar ejectives

The alveolar ejective is a type of consonantal sound, usually described as voiceless, being 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reversed apostrophe is sometimes used to represent light aspiration, as in Armenian linguistics ⟨p‘ t‘ k‘⟩; this usage is obsolete in the IPA.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.

Alveolar ejective
IPA Number165
Entity (decimal)tť
Unicode (hex)U+0074U+0165
Audio sample
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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 cʼ kxʼ/ (Hadza).


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 stop.
  • 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.


Dental or denti-alveolar

Dahalo[2][t̪ʼat̪t̪a]'hair'Laminal denti-alveolar, contrasts with alveolar ejective.[3]


AdygheятӀэ[jaːtʼa] 'dirt'
ArmenianYerevan dialect[4]տիկ [tʼikʼ] 'wineskin'Corresponds to tenuis [t⁼] in other Eastern dialects.
Dahalo[2][t̺ʼirimalle]'spider'Apical, contrasts with laminal denti-alveolar ejective.[3]
KabardianтӀы[tʼə] 'ram'
KhwarshiтӀая[tʼaja]'to drop'
Nez Perceeyíieyii[tʼæˈjiːtʼæjiː]'flat'
Ossetian Iron стъалы [ˈstʼäɫɪ̈] 'star'

See also


  1. "The International Phonetic Alphabet and the IPA Chart | International Phonetic Association". Retrieved 2018-04-01.
  2. Maddieson et al. (1993), p. 27.
  3. Maddieson et al. (1993), pp. 27–28.
  4. Dum-Tragut (2009), pp. 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.


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