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Department of Linguistics


Implosive Airflow

Robert Mannell

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Implosive Airflow

Implosives are also known as glottalic ingressives.

The following sequence of events results in implosive airflow:-

  1. Vocal fold closure.
  2. Raised velum, completely closing off the nasal cavity.
  3. Supralaryngeal closure (in this case alveolar, but IPA also allows for bilabial, dental, palatal, velar and uvular).
  4. Larynx is lowered increasing the volume of the oral cavity.
  5. Oral air is rarefied in the larger cavity. Oral air pressure is now less than atmospheric air pressure.
  6. Release of supralaryngeal closure (3). Higher pressure atmospheric air rushes into the oral cavity to equalise pressure. This creates turbulent air flow and generates the implosive burst noise.
  7. Lung pressure rises.
  8. Air is pushed out of the lungs causing the vocal folds to vibrate.

Implosive Stricture Type

Implosives have stop stricture. All implosives are voiced oral stop implosives.

Types of Implosive

The IPA lists the following possible implosives:-

  • [ɓ] Bilabial voiced implosive
  • [ɗ] Dental/Alveolar voiced implosive
  • [ʄ] Palatal voiced implosive
  • [ɠ] Velar voiced implosive
  • [ʛ] Uvular voiced implosive

Examples (contrasted with equivalent pulmonic stops)


[ɓiːza] call [biːza] have concern
[ɓuːza] ask [buːza] buzz


[ɓabe] estrangement [babe] grasshopper
[ɗaka] inside of house [daka] pounding


[ɓabal] hard [babal] open place
[ɗidi] dirt [didi] cramp