Glottal Stop
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Glottal Stop
Glottal stop
IPA Number113
Audio sample
Entity (decimal)ʔ
Unicode (hex)U+0294
Braille? (braille pattern dots-23)

The glottal plosive or stop is a type of consonantal sound used in many spoken languages, produced by obstructing airflow in the vocal tract or, more precisely, the glottis. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is ⟨?⟩.

As a result of the obstruction of the airflow in the glottis, the glottal vibration either stops or becomes irregular with a low rate and sudden drop in intensity.[1]


Features of the glottal stop:[]


Road sign in British Columbia showing the use of 7 to represent in Squamish.

In the traditional Romanization of many languages, such as Arabic, the glottal stop is transcribed with the apostrophe'⟩ or the symbol ?, which is the source of the IPA character ⟨?⟩. In many Polynesian languages that use the Latin alphabet, however, the glottal stop is written with a rotated apostrophe, ⟨ʻ⟩ (called 'okina in Hawaiian and Samoan), which is commonly used to transcribe the Arabic ayin as well (also ⟨ʽ⟩) and is the source of the IPA character for the voiced pharyngeal fricative?⟩. In Malay the glottal stop is represented by the letter ⟨k⟩ (at the end of words), in Võro and Maltese by ⟨q⟩.

Other scripts also have letters used for representing the glottal stop, such as the Hebrew letter aleph ⟨?⟩ and the Cyrillic letter palochka ⟨?⟩, used in several Caucasian languages. The arabic script uses hamza ⟨?⟩, which can appear both as a diacritic and as an independent letter (though not part of the alphabet). Modern Latin alphabets for various Indigenous Languages of the Caucasus use the letter heng ('? ?')[]. In Tundra Nenets, it is represented by the letters apostrophe ⟨'⟩ and double apostrophe ⟨?⟩. In Japanese, glottal stops occur at the end of interjections of surprise or anger and are represented by the character ⟨?⟩.

In the graphic representation of most Philippine languages, the glottal stop has no consistent symbolization. In most cases, however, a word that begins with a vowel-letter (e.g. Tagalog aso, "dog") is always pronounced with an unrepresented glottal stop before that vowel (as in Modern German and Hausa). Some orthographies use a hyphen instead of the reverse apostrophe if the glottal stop occurs in the middle of the word (e.g. Tagalog pag-ibig, "love"; or Visayan gabi-i, "night"). If it occurs in the end of a word, the last vowel is written with a circumflex accent (known as the pakupyâ) if both a stress and a glottal stop occur in the final vowel (e.g. basâ, "wet") or a grave accent (known as the paiwà) if the glottal stop occurs at the final vowel, but the stress occurs at the penultimate syllable (e.g. batà, "child").[3][4][5]

Some Canadian indigenous languages, especially some of the Salishan languages, have adopted the phonetic symbol ? itself as part of their orthographies. In some of them, it occurs as a pair of uppercase and lowercase characters, ? and ?.[6] The numeral 7 or question mark is sometimes substituted for ? and is preferred in some languages such as Squamish. SEN?O?EN – whose alphabet is mostly unique from other Salish languages – contrastly uses the comma ⟨,⟩ to represent the glottal stop, though it is optional.

In 2015, two women in the Northwest Territories challenged the territorial government over its refusal to permit them to use the ? character in their daughters' names: Sahai?a, a Chipewyan name, and Sakae?ah, a Slavey name (the two names are actually cognates). The territory argued that territorial and federal identity documents were unable to accommodate the character. The women registered the names with hyphens instead of the ?, while continuing to challenge the policy.[7]

In the Crow language, the glottal stop is written as a question mark: ?. The only instance of the glottal stop in Crow is as a question marker morpheme, at the end of a sentence.[8]

Use of the glottal stop is a distinct characteristic of the Southern Mainland Argyll dialects of Scottish Gaelic. In such a dialect, the standard Gaelic phrase Tha Gàidhlig agam ("I speak Gaelic"), would be rendered Tha Gàidhlig a'am.[]


In English, the glottal stop occurs as an open juncture (for example, between the vowel sounds in uh-oh!,[9]) and allophonically in t-glottalization. In British English, the glottal stop is most familiar in the Cockney pronunciation of "butter" as "bu'er". Geordie English often uses glottal stops for t, k, and p, and has a unique form of glottalization. Additionally, there is the glottal stop as a null onset for English; in other words, it is the non-phonemic glottal stop occurring before isolated or initial vowels.

Often a glottal stop happens at the beginning of vowel phonation after a silence.[1]

Although this segment is not a phoneme in English, it occurs phonetically in nearly all dialects of English, as an allophone of /t/ in the syllable coda. Speakers of Cockney, Scottish English and several other British dialects also pronounce an intervocalic /t/ between vowels as in city. In Received Pronunciation, a glottal stop is inserted before a tautosyllabic voiceless stop: stoʼp, thaʼt, knoʼck, waʼtch, also leaʼp, soaʼk, helʼp, pinʼch.[10][11]

In many languages that do not allow a sequence of vowels, such as Persian, the glottal stop may be used epenthetically to prevent such a hiatus. There are intricate interactions between falling tone and the glottal stop in the histories of such languages as Danish (see stød), Cantonese and Thai.[]

In many languages, the unstressed intervocalic allophone of the glottal stop is a creaky-voiced glottal approximant. It is known to be contrastive in only one language, Gimi, in which it is the voiced equivalent of the stop.[]

The table below demonstrates how widely the sound of glottal stop is found among the world's spoken languages:

Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Abkhaz /ai [?aj] 'no' See Abkhaz phonology.
Adyghe ??/'? [?a] 'arm/hand'
Arabic Modern Standard[12] /'a?ani [?a'?a:ni:] 'songs' See Arabic phonology, Hamza.
Levantine and Egyptian[13] /?a''a ['?ææ] 'apartment' Levantine and Egyptian dialects.[13] Corresponds to or in other dialects.
Fasi and Tlemcenian[14] /'al ['?a:l] 'he said' Fasi and Tlemcenian dialects. Corresponds to or in other dialects.
Azeri ?r [?ær] 'husband'
Bantawa : [t?sa?wa] 'drinking water'
Bikol bàgo ['ba:o] 'new'
Bulgarian ?-?/?-? ['?] 'nope'
Burmese /rc? mya: [mji? mjà] 'rivers'
Cebuano tubò ['tubo?] 'to grow'
Chamorro haluʼu [h?lu?u] 'shark'
Chinese Cantonese ?/oi3 [:i?] 'love' See Cantonese phonology.
Wu /yi ji le [?i.t?i.?l] 'superb'
Hokkien ?/ha?h [h] 'to suit'
Cook Islands M?ori taʻi [ta?i] 'one'
Czech pou?ívat [po?u?i:vat] 'to use' See Czech phonology.
Dahalo maʼa [ma?a] 'water' see Dahalo phonology
Danish hånd ['hn?] 'hand' One of the possible realizations of stød. Depending on the dialect and style of speech, it can be instead realized as laryngealisation of the preceding sound. See Danish phonology.
Dutch[15] beamen [b'a:m?(n)] 'to confirm' See Dutch phonology.
English RP uh-oh ['?] 'uh-oh'
Australian cat [k?æ?(t)] 'cat' Allophone of /t/, /k/ or /p/. See glottalization, English phonology, and definite article reduction.
Estuary [k?æ?]
Cockney[16] [k?]
Scottish [k?ä?]
Some Northern England the [?] 'the'
Geordie thank you 'thank you'
Geordie people 'people'
RP[17] and GA button 'button'
Finnish sadeaamu ['s?de:mu] 'rainy morning' See Finnish phonology.[18]
German Northern Beamter [b?'?amt?] 'civil servant' Generally all vowel onsets. See Standard German phonology.
Guaraní avañeʼ? [ãã'] 'Guaraní' Occurs only between vowels.
Hawaiian[19] ʻeleʻele ['l?'l?] 'black' See Hawaiian phonology.
Hebrew /ma'amar [mama?] 'article' Often elided in casual speech. See Modern Hebrew phonology.
Icelandic en [n] 'but' Only used according to emphasis, never occurring in minimal pairs.
Iloko nalab-ay [nalab'?aj] 'bland tasting' Hyphen when occurring within the word.
Indonesian bakso [?bä?'so] 'meatball' Allophone of /k/ or /?/ in the syllable coda.
Ingush ? / qoʼ [qo?] 'three'
Japanese Kagoshima gakk? [ga?ko:] 'school' Marked by '?' in Hiragana, and by '?' in Katakana.
Javanese[20] ? [änä?] 'child' Allophone of /k/ in morpheme-final position.
Jedek[21] [w] 'left side'
Kabardian ??/'? [?a] 'arm/hand'
Kagayanen[22] saag [sa'?a?] 'floor'
Khasi lyoh [l:?] 'cloud'
Khmer / sâm'at [s?m:t] 'to clean' See Khmer phonology
Korean ?/il [?il] 'one' In free variation with no glottal stop. Occurs only in initial position of a word.
Malay Standard tidak ['tidä?] 'no' Allophone of final /k/ in the syllable coda, pronounced before consonants and at end of the a word. In other positions, /?/ has phonemic status only in loanwords from Arabic. See Malay phonology
Kelantan-Pattani ikat [?i'kä?] ?'to tie' Allophone of final /k, p, t/ in the syllable coda. Pronounced before consonants and at the end of a word. See Kelantan-Pattani Malay and Terengganu Malay
Maltese qattus ['?attus] 'cat'
M?ori Taranaki, Whanganui wahine [wa?in?] 'woman'
Minangkabau waʼang [wä?ä?] 'you' Sometimes written without an apostrophe.
Mutsun tawkaʼli [tawka?li] 'black gooseberry' Ribes divaricatum
Mingrelian /?oropha [r?p] 'love'
Nahuatl tahtli 'father' Often left unwritten.
Nez Perce yáaka? ['ja:ka?] 'black bear'
Nheengatu[23] ai [a'?i] 'sloth' Transcription (or absence thereof) varies.
Okinawan ?/utu [?utu] 'sound'
Persian ?/ma'ni [ma?ni] 'meaning' See Persian phonology.
Polish era [ra] 'era' Most often occurs as an anlaut of an initial vowel (Ala -> [?ala]). See Polish phonology#Glottal stop.
Pirahã baíxi ['màíì] 'parent'
Portuguese[24] Vernacular Brazilian ê-ê[25] [e?'?e:] 'yeah right'[26] Marginal sound. Does not occur after or before a consonant. In Brazilian casual speech, there is at least one [?]-vowel length-pitch accent minimal pair (triply unusual, the ideophones short ih vs. long ih). See Portuguese phonology.
Some speakers à aula ['a '?awl?] 'to the class'
Rotuman[27] ?usu [?usu] 'to box'
Samoan maʻi [ma?i] 'sickness/illness'
Sardinian[28] Some dialects of Barbagia unu pacu ['u:nu pa?u] 'a little' Intervocalic allophone of /n, k, l/.
Some dialects of Sarrabus sa luna [sa ?u?a] 'the moon'
Serbo-Croatian[29] i onda [iô?n?d?a?] 'and then' Optionally inserted between vowels across word boundaries.[29] See Serbo-Croatian phonology
Seri he [] 'I'
Somali ba' [ba?] 'calamity' though /?/ occurs before all vowels, it is only written medially and finally.[30] See Somali phonology
Spanish Nicaraguan[31] s alto ['ma '?al?t?o?] 'higher' Marginal sound or allophone of between vowels in different words. Does not occur after or before a consonant. See Spanish phonology.
Yucateco[32] cuatro años ['kwat?o? '?ã?o?s] 'four years'
Tagalog oo [o?o] 'yes' See Tagalog phonology.
Tahitian puaʻa [pua?a] 'pig'
Thai ??/'? [?a:] 'uncle/aunt' (father's younger sibling)
Tongan tuʻu [tu?u] 'stand'
Tundra Nenets ʼ/vy' [w] 'tundra'
Vietnamese[33] oi [j?] 'sultry' In free variation with no glottal stop. See Vietnamese phonology.
Võro piniq ['pin?i?] 'dogs' "q" is Võro plural marker (maa, kala, "land", "fish"; maaq, kalaq, "lands", "fishes").
Wagiman jamh [tm?] 'to eat' (perf.)
Welayta 7írTi [?ir?a] 'wet'
Wallisian maʻuli [ma?uli] 'life'

See also


  1. ^ a b Umeda, Noriko (1978). "Occurrence of Glottal Stops in Fluent Speech". The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America. 64 (1): 88-94. Bibcode:1978ASAJ...64...88U. doi:10.1121/1.381959. PMID 712005.
  2. ^ Catford, J. C. (1990). "Glottal Consonants ... Another View". Journal of the International Phonetic Association. 20 (2): 25-26. doi:10.1017/S0025100300004229. JSTOR 44526803. S2CID 144421504.
  3. ^ Morrow, Paul (March 16, 2011). "The Basics of Filipino Pronunciation: Part 2 of 3 o Accent Marks". Pilipino Express. Archived from the original on December 27, 2011. Retrieved 2012.
  4. ^ Nolasco, Ricardo M. D., Grammar Notes on the National Language (PDF).{{citation}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  5. ^ Schoellner, Joan; Heinle, Beverly D., eds. (2007). Tagalog Reading Booklet (PDF). Simon & Schister's Pimsleur. pp. 5-6. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-11-27. Retrieved .
  6. ^ Proposal to Add Latin Small Letter Glottal Stop to the UCS (PDF), 2005-08-10, archived (PDF) from the original on 2011-09-26, retrieved .
  7. ^ Browne, Rachel (12 March 2015). "What's in A Name? a Chipewyan's Battle Over Her Native Tongue". Maclean's. Archived from the original on 4 April 2015. Retrieved 2015.
  8. ^ Graczyk, R. 2007. A Grammar of Crow: Apsáaloke Aliláau. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press.
  9. ^ Mastering Hebrew. Barron's. 1988. ISBN 0812039904. Archived from the original on 2020-08-01. Retrieved .
  10. ^ Brown, Gillian (1977). Listening to Spoken English. London: Longman. p. 27.
  11. ^ Kortlandt, Frederik (1993), General Linguistics & Indo-European Reconstruction (PDF), archived (PDF) from the original on 2011-06-08, retrieved – via
  12. ^ Thelwall (1990:37)
  13. ^ a b Watson (2002:17)
  14. ^ Dendane, Zoubir (2013). "The Stigmatisation of the Glottal Stop in Tlemcen Speech Community: An Indicator of Dialect Shift". The International Journal of Linguistics and Literature. 2 (3): 1-10. Archived from the original on 2019-01-06.
  15. ^ Gussenhoven (1992:45)
  16. ^ Sivertsen (1960:111)
  17. ^ Roach (2004:240)
  18. ^ Collinder, Björn (1941). Lärobok i finska språket för krigsmakten (in Finnish). Ivar Häggström. p. 7.
  19. ^ Ladefoged (2005:139)
  20. ^ Clark, Yallop & Fletcher (2007:105)
  21. ^ Yager, Joanne; Burtenhult, Niclas (2017). "Jedek: A Newly-Discovered Aslian Variety of Malaysia" (PDF). Linguistic Typology. 21 (3): 493-545. doi:10.1515/lingty-2017-0012. hdl:11858/00-001M-0000-002E-7CD2-7. S2CID 126145797. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2018-08-07. Retrieved .
  22. ^ Olson et al. (2010:206-207)
  23. ^ Cruz, Aline da (2011). Fonologia e Gramática do Nheengatú: A língua geral falada pelos povos Baré, Warekena e Baniwa [Phonology and Grammar of Nheengatú: The general language spoken by the Baré, Warekena and Baniwa peoples] (PDF) (Doctor thesis) (in Portuguese). Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. ISBN 978-94-6093-063-8. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 7, 2014.
  24. ^ Veloso, João; Martins, Pedro Tiago (2013). O Arquivo Dialetal do CLUP: disponibilização on-line de um corpus dialetal do português. XXVIII Encontro Nacional da Associação Portuguesa de Linguística, Coimbra, APL (in Portuguese). pp. 673-692. ISBN 978-989-97440-2-8. Archived from the original on 2014-03-06.
  25. ^ Phonetic Symbols for Portuguese Phonetic Transcription (PDF), October 2012, archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-11-08 – via In European Portuguese, the "é é" interjection usually employs an epenthetic /i/, being pronounced [e?'je?] instead.
  26. ^ It may be used mostly as a general call of attention for disapproval, disagreement or inconsistency, but also serves as a synonym of the multiuse expression "eu, hein!". (in Portuguese) How to say 'eu, hein' in English - Adir Ferreira Idiomas Archived 2013-07-08 at the Wayback Machine
  27. ^ Blevins (1994:492)
  28. ^ Grimaldi, Lucia; Mensching, Guido, eds. (2004). Su sardu limba de Sardigna et limba de Europa (PDF). Cooperativa Universitaria Editrice Cagliaritana. pp. 110-111. ISBN 88-8467-170-1. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-12-05.
  29. ^ a b Landau et al. (1999:67)
  30. ^ Edmondson, J. A.; Esling, J. H.; Harris, J. G., Supraglottal Cavity Shape, Linguistic Register, and Other Phonetic Features of Somali, CiteSeerX
  31. ^ Chappell, Whitney, The Hypo-Hyperarticulation Continuum in Nicaraguan Spanish (PDF), archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-03-07, retrieved – via
  32. ^ Michnowicz, Jim; Carpenter, Lindsey, Voiceless Stop Aspiration in Yucatán Spanish: A Sociolinguistic Analysis (PDF), archived (PDF) from the original on 2014-03-07, retrieved – via
  33. ^ Thompson (1959:458-461)


External links

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