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Department of Linguistics

PHONETICS AND PHONOLOGY

Velaric Airflow: Oral Click

Robert Mannell

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Oral Click

Oral clicks are also known as velaric ingressives.

The following sequence of events produces an oral 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.

Oral Click Stricture Type

Oral Clicks have stop stricture

Types of Oral Click

  • [ǀ] dental/alveolar click
    Closure as for [t]. When released, air passes over the centre of the tongue.
  • [ǃ] 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.
  • [ǁ] lateral click
    Closure as for [t]. When released, air passes over the side(s) of the tongue.

Examples

These examples are from Hottentot

[ǀam] hot [ǃom] suck [ǁapi] high
[ǀan] bake [ǃam] clean a calabash [ǁari] compel
[ǀani] chin [ǃomi] ice [ǁapi] ride