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Template:Refimprove Template:Infobox IPA Template:Sound change Template:IPA notice In phonetics, nasalization (or nasalisation) is the production of a sound while the velum is lowered, so that some air escapes through the nose during the production of the sound by the mouth[citation needed]. An archetypal nasal sound is Template:IPA.

In the International Phonetic Alphabet, nasalization is indicated by printing a tilde diacritic Template:Unichar above the symbol for the sound to be nasalized: Template:IPA is the nasalized equivalent of Template:IPA, and Template:IPA is the nasalized equivalent of Template:IPA. A subscript diacritic Template:IPA, called an ogonek or nosinė, is sometimes seen, especially when the vowel bears tone marks that would interfere with the superscript tilde. For example, Template:IPA are more legible in most fonts than Template:IPA.

Nasal vowels

Nasal vowels are found in over 20% of the languages around the world, such as French, Polish, Portuguese, Breton, Gheg Albanian, Hindi, Bengali, Oriya, Hmong, Hokkien, Yoruba and Cherokee. Those nasal vowels contrast with their corresponding oral vowels. Nasality is usually seen as a binary feature, although surface variation in different degrees of nasality caused by neighboring nasal consonants has been observed.Template:Sfn

There are occasional languages, such Palantla Chinantec, where vowels seem to exhibit three contrastive degrees of nasality[1], although Ladefoged and Maddieson believe that the slightly nasalized vowels are better described as an oro-nasal diphthong.Template:Sfn

Nasal consonants

By far the most common nasal sounds are nasal consonants such as Template:IPA, Template:IPA or Template:IPA. Most nasal consonants are occlusives, and airflow through the mouth is blocked and redirected through the nose. Their oral counterparts are the stops[citation needed].

Nasalized consonants

Nasalized versions of other consonant sounds also exist but are much rarer than either nasal occlusives or nasal vowels. Some South Arabian languages use phonemic nasalized fricatives, such as Template:IPA, which sounds something like a simultaneous Template:IPA and Template:IPA. The Middle Chinese consonant (Template:IPA; Template:IPA in modern Standard Chinese) has an odd history; for example, it has evolved into Template:IPAblink and Template:IPA (or Template:IPAblink and Template:IPAblink respectively, depending on accents) in Standard Chinese; Template:IPAblink/Template:IPAblink and Template:IPAblink in Hokkien; Template:IPA/Template:IPA and Template:IPA/Template:IPAblink while borrowed into Japan. It seems likely that it was once a nasalized fricative, perhaps a palatal Template:IPA.

In Coatzospan Mixtec, fricatives and affricates are nasalized before nasal vowels even when they are voiceless. In the Hupa, the velar nasal Template:IPA often has the tongue not make full contact, resulting in a nasalized approximant, Template:IPA. That is cognate with a nasalized palatal approximant] Template:IPA in other Athabaskan languages.

In Umbundu, phonemic Template:IPA contrasts with the (allophonically) nasalized approximant Template:IPA and so is likely to be a true fricative rather than an approximant.Template:Elucidate In Old and Middle Irish, the lenited Template:Angbr was a nasalized bilabial fricative.[2]

Sundanese has an allophonic nasalized glottal stop Template:IPA; nasalized stops can occur only with pharyngeal articulation or lower, or they would be simple nasals.[3] Nasal flaps are common allophonically. Many West African languages have a nasal flap Template:IPA (or Template:IPA) as an allophone of Template:IPA before a nasal vowel; Pashto, however, has a phonemic nasal retroflex lateral flap.

Other languages, such as the Khoisan languages of Khoekhoe and Gǀui, as well as several of the !Kung languages, include nasal click consonants. Nasalization of the phonemes is denoted with a superscript Template:Angbr preceding the consonant (for example, Template:Angbr).[4] Nasalized laterals such as Template:IPA are easy to produce but rare or nonexistent as phonemes; often when Template:IPA is nasalized, it becomes Template:IPA.

True nasal fricatives

Besides nasalized oral fricatives, there are true nasal fricatives, previously called nareal fricatives. They are sometimes produced by people with disordered speech. The turbulence in the airflow characteristic of fricatives is produced not in the mouth but in the nasal cavity. A tilde and trema diacritic (two dots representing the nostrils) is used for this in the extensions to the IPA: Template:IPA is a voiced alveolar nasal fricative, with no airflow out of the mouth, and Template:IPA is the voiceless equivalent; Template:IPA is an oral fricative with simultaneous nasal frication. No known language makes use of nasal fricatives in non-disordered speech.


Nasalization may be lost over time. There are also denasal sounds, which sound like nasals spoken with a head cold. They may be found in non-pathological speech as a language loses nasal consonants, as in Korean.

Contextual nasalization

Vowels assimilate to surrounding nasal consonants in many languages, such as Thai, creating nasal vowel allophones. Some languages exhibit a nasalization of segments adjacent to phonemic or allophonic nasal vowels, such as Apurinã.

Contextual nasalization can lead to the addition of nasal vowel phonemes to a language.[5] That happened in French, most of whose final consonants disappeared, but its final nasals made the preceding vowels become nasal, which introduced a new distinction into the language. An example is vin blanc Template:IPA-fr ('white wine'), ultimately from Latin vinum and blancum.

See also


  1. Juliette Blevins (2004). Evolutionary Phonology: The Emergence of Sound Patterns. Cambridge University Press. p. 203. 
  2. Thurneysen, Rudolf; D. A. Binchy (1946). A Grammar of Old Irish. Translated by Osborn Bergin. Dublin: Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies. p. 85. ISBN 1-85500-161-6. 
  3. Template:SOWL
  4. Template:SOWL
  5. The World Atlas of Language Structures Online – Chapter 10 – Vowel Nasalization