Tenuis alveolar click

The voiceless or more precisely tenuis (post)alveolar click is a click consonant found primarily among the languages of southern Africa. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is ǃ. The Doke/Beach convention, adopted for a time by the IPA and still preferred by some linguists, is ʗ.

(Tenuis) alveolar click
IPA Number178
Entity (decimal)ǃʗ
Unicode (hex)U+01C3U+0297
Unicode character name for ǃ is LATIN LETTER RETROFLEX CLICK
Audio sample
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Features of the tenuis (post)alveolar click:

  • The airstream mechanism is lingual ingressive (also known as velaric ingressive), which means a pocket of air trapped between two closures is rarefied by a "sucking" action of the tongue, rather than being moved by the glottis or the lungs/diaphragm. The release of the forward closure produces the "click" sound. Voiced and nasal clicks have a simultaneous pulmonic egressive airstream.
  • Its phonation is voiceless, unaspirated, and unglottalized, which means it is produced without vibration or constriction of the vocal cords, and any following vowel starts without significant delay.
  • 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.


Tenuis alveolar clicks are found primarily in the various Khoisan language families of southern Africa and in some neighboring Bantu languages.

Hadza laqo[laǃo] = [laʗo]'to trip'
Khoekhoe ǃgabe[ǃȁwé] = [ʗȁwé]'to speak a Khoisan language'
Sesotho ho qoqa[hʊǃɔǃɑ] = [hʊʗɔʗɑ]'to chat'
Xhosa iqanda[iǃanda] = [iʗanda]'egg'
Zulu iqaqa[íːǃaːǃá] = [íːʗaːʗá]'polecat'


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