Stiff voice

The term stiff voice describes the pronunciation of consonants or vowels with a glottal opening narrower, and the vocal folds stiffer, than occurs in modal voice. Although there is no specific IPA diacritic for stiff voice, the voicing diacritic (a subscript wedge) may be used in conjunction with the symbol for a voiced consonant.[1] In Bru, for example, stiff-voiced vowels have tenseness in the glottis and pharynx without going so far as to be creaky voiced, whereas slack-voiced vowels are lax in the glottis without going so far as to be breathy voice.[2]

One language with stiff voice is Thai:[1]

stiff voice บ้า[b̬âː]crazy ด่า[d̪̬àː]curse, scold
tenuis ป้า[pâː]aunt ตา[t̪āː]eye
aspirated ผ้า[pʰâː]cloth ท่า[t̪ʰâː]landing place

Javanese contrasts stiff and slack voiced bilabial, dental, retroflex, and velar stops:[1]

stiff voice [paku]nail [tamu]guest [tsariʔ]sheet (of paper) [ʈiʈiʔ]little [kali]river
slack voice [b̥aku]standard [d̥amu]blow [d̥z̥arit](type of women's clothing) [ɖ̥isiʔ]first [ɡ̊ali]dig

Mpi (Loloish) contrasts modals and stiff voice in its vowels. This is not register: for each of the six Mpi tones, a word may have either a modal or stiff-voiced vowel. For example, low tone contrasts /sì/ 'blood' and /sì̬/ 'seven'.[1]


  1. Ladefoged, Peter; Maddieson, Ian (1996). The Sounds of the World's Languages. Oxford: Blackwell. ISBN 978-0-631-19815-4.
  2. Gordon, Matthew; Ladefoged, Peter (2001). "Phonation types: A cross-linguistic overview" (PDF). Journal of Phonetics. 29 (4): 383–406. CiteSeerX doi:10.1006/jpho.2001.0147.
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