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Department of Linguistics


Velaric Airflow: Nasal Click

Robert Mannell

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Nasal Click

Nasal clicks are also known as nasal velaric ingressives.

The following sequence of events produces an nasal click:-

  1. Anterior (front) oral closure (in this case on the alveolar ridge in contact with the back of the teeth, for a dental click)
  2. Closure at the soft palate (velum). This velar closure is the reason for the term "velaric airflow".
  3. Air (approximately at atmospheric pressure) is trapped between the tongue and the roof of the mouth
  4. Centre of the tongue is lowered (with a possible simultaneous sliding back of the velar closure). This creates a larger enclosed chamber containing rarefied (low pressure) air.
  5. Anterior closure (at 1) is released and air rushes in from outside to equalise the air pressure. This creates turbulence which results in the noise of the click.
  6. During the sequence 1-5 the velum is lowered which permits simultaneous egressive flow through the nose. At the same time the vocal folds are vibrating, so a voiced nasal sound is produced simultaneously with the click.

Nasal Click Stricture Type

Nasal Clicks have stop stricture

Types of Nasal Click

  • [ǀŋ] dental/alveolar click
    Closure as for [t]. When released, air passes over the centre of the tongue.
  • [ǃŋ] retroflex click
    Closure as for [ʈ]. Closure is first sucked back to the hard palate before release. When released, air passes over the centre of the tongue.
  • [ǁŋ] lateral click
    Closure as for [t]. When released, air passes over the side(s) of the tongue.

The types of nasal clicks described above are essentially identical to the types of oral clicks but with the addition of nasal airflow and voiced nasal resonance.


These examples are from Hottentot

[ǀŋam] love
[ǃŋa] fall
[ǁŋu] far