Zero Consonant
Get Zero Consonant essential facts below. View Videos or join the Zero Consonant discussion. Add Zero Consonant to your topic list for future reference or share this resource on social media.
Zero Consonant

In orthography, a zero consonant, silent initial, or null-onset letter is a consonant letter that does not correspond to a consonant sound, but is required when a word or syllable starts with a vowel (i.e. has a null onset). Some abjads, abugidas, and alphabets have zero consonants, generally because they have an orthographic rule that all syllables must begin with a consonant letter, whereas the language they transcribe allows syllables to start with a vowel. In a few cases, such as Pahawh Hmong below, the lack of a consonant letter represents a specific consonant sound, so the lack of a consonant sound requires a distinct letter to disambiguate.


  • The letter ? aleph is a zero consonant in Ashkenazi Hebrew. It originally represented a glottal stop, a value it retains in other Hebrew dialects and in formal Israeli Hebrew.
  • In Arabic, the related letter ? alif is often a placeholder for a vowel.
  • In Javanese script, the letter ? ha is used for a vowel (silent 'h').
  • In Korean hangul, the zero consonant is ? ieung. It appears twice in ; a-eum, "velar consonant". ? also represents [?] -ng at the end of a syllable, but historically this was a distinct letter.
  • Burmese ?, Khmer ?, Thai ?, and Lao ? are null-initial vowel-support letters. Thai ?, for example, is ang "basin". (? is the vowel a and ? the consonant ng.) ? and ? pull double duty as vowels in some positions.
  • In Thaana of the Maldives, ? is a zero. It requires a diacritic to indicate the associated vowel? is i, o, etc. This is similar to an abjad, but the vowel mark is not optional.
  • The Lontara script for Buginese, with zero ?, is similar to Thaana, except that without a vowel diacritic ? represents an initial vowel a. The Lepcha script of Nepal is similar.
  • In Cree and Inuit, a triangle represents a vowel-initial syllable. The orientation of this triangle specifies the vowel e, ? i, ? o, ? a.
  • In the Romanized Popular Alphabet used for Hmong, an apostrophe marks a vowel-initial syllable. The absence of any letter indicates that the syllable starts with a glottal stop, a far more common occurrence.
  • Pahawh Hmong, a semi-syllabary, also has a zero consonant, as well as a letter for glottal stop, with the lack of an initial consonant letter indicating that the syllable begins with a /k/.

See also

  • Virama, a zero-vowel diacritic in many abugidas, such as Hindi Devanagari. The virama marks the absence of a vowel; the absence of a virama or vowel diacritic implies an inherent vowel such as schwa.
  • Sukun, the optional zero-vowel diacritic of Arabic.
  • Zero (linguistics), a broader concept
  • Silent letter


  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



Music Scenes