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Velars are
consonant In articulatory phonetics The field of articulatory phonetics is a subfield of phonetics that studies articulation and ways that humans produce speech. Articulatory phoneticians explain how humans produce speech sounds via the interaction of d ...
s
articulated An articulated vehicle is a vehicle which has a permanent or semi-permanent pivot joint In animal anatomy Anatomy (Greek ''anatomē'', 'dissection') is the branch of biology concerned with the study of the structure of organisms and their ...
with the back part of the
tongue The tongue is a muscular organ (anatomy), organ in the mouth of a typical tetrapod. It manipulates food for mastication and swallowing as part of the digestive system, digestive process, and is the primary organ of taste. The tongue's upper surfa ...

tongue
(the dorsum) against the soft palate, the back part of the roof of the mouth (known also as the velum). Since the velar region of the roof of the mouth is relatively extensive and the movements of the dorsum are not very precise, velars easily undergo assimilation, shifting their articulation back or to the front depending on the quality of adjacent vowels. They often become automatically ''fronted'', that is partly or completely
palatal The palate is the roof of the mouth in humans and other mammal Mammals (from Latin language, Latin , 'breast') are a group of vertebrate animals constituting the class (biology), class Mammalia (), and characterized by the presence of ma ...

palatal
before a following front vowel, and ''retracted'', that is partly or completely
uvular Uvulars are consonant In articulatory phonetics, a consonant is a speech sound that is articulated with complete or partial closure of the vocal tract. Examples are , pronounced with the lips; , pronounced with the front of the tongue; , pronounc ...
before back vowels. Palatalised velars (like English in ''keen'' or ''cube'') are sometimes referred to as palatovelars. Many languages also have
labialized Labialization is a secondary articulatory feature of sounds in some languages. Labialized sounds involve the lips while the remainder of the oral cavity In animal anatomy Anatomy (Greek ''anatomē'', 'dissection') is the branch of biolog ...
velars, such as , in which the articulation is accompanied by rounding of the lips. There are also
labial–velar consonant Labial–velar consonants are Doubly articulated consonant, doubly articulated at the Soft palate, velum and the lips, such as . They are sometimes called "labiovelar consonants", a term that can also refer to labialization, labialized velars, such ...
s, which are doubly articulated at the velum and at the lips, such as . This distinction disappears with the
approximant consonant Approximants are speech sounds that involve the articulators approaching each other but not narrowly enough nor with enough articulatory precision to create turbulent airflow. Therefore, approximants fall between fricatives Fricatives are cons ...
since labialization involves adding of a labial approximant articulation to a sound, and this ambiguous situation is often called labiovelar. A velar
trill Trill most often refers to: * Trill consonant, a type of sound used in some languages * Trill (music), a type of musical ornament Trill may also refer to: Fictional entities * Trill (The Legend of Zelda), Trill (''The Legend of Zelda''), a bird ...
or
tap Tap, Taps, TAP or tapped may refer to: Arts and entertainment Film * Tap (film), ''Tap'' (film), a 1989 film * Taps (film), ''Taps'' (film), a 1981 American drama film * Taps (2006 film), ''Taps'' (2006 film), a short film * Tapped (film), ''Tapp ...
is not possible according to the International Phonetics Association: see the shaded boxes on the
table of pulmonic consonants
table of pulmonic consonants
. In the velar position, the tongue has an extremely restricted ability to carry out the type of motion associated with trills or taps, and the body of the tongue has no freedom to move quickly enough to produce a velar trill or flap.


Examples

The velar consonants identified by the
International Phonetic Alphabet The International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) is an alphabet An alphabet is a standardized set of basic written symbols A symbol is a mark, sign, or word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest s ...
are:


Lack of velars

The velar consonant is the most common consonant in human languages. The only languages recorded to lack velars (and any dorsal consonant at all) may be
Xavante The Xavante (also Shavante, Chavante, Akuen, A'uwe, Akwe, Awen, or Akwen) are an indigenous people Indigenous peoples, also referred to as First people, Aboriginal people, Native people, or autochthonous people, are culturally distinct ethnic ...
, Tahitian, and (phonologically but not phonetically) several
Skou languages The Sko or Skou languages are a small language family spoken by about 7000 people, mainly along the Vanimo coast of Sandaun Province in Papua New Guinea, with a few being inland from this area and at least one just across the border in the Indones ...
( Wutung, a dialect of
Vanimo Vanimo is the capital of (West Sepik) in north-westernmost and of . It is located on a peninsula close to the with . Religion Its Holy Cross is the episcopal see of the .http://www.gcatholic.org/churches/oceania/2920.htm GCatholic, with Go ...
, and Bobe). In Pirahã, men may lack the only velar consonant. Other languages lack simple velars. An areal feature of the
indigenous languages of the Americas Over a thousand Indigenous languages An indigenous language or autochthonous language, is a language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign la ...
of the coastal regions of the
Pacific Northwest The Pacific Northwest (PNW) is a geographic region in western North America bounded by its coastal waters of the Pacific Ocean to the west and, loosely, by the Rocky Mountains to the east. Though no official boundary exists, the most common co ...
is that historical *k was palatalized. When such sounds remained stops, they were transcribed in Americanist phonetic notation, presumably corresponding to IPA , but in others, such as the
Saanich dialect Saanich (also Sənčáθən, written as SENĆOŦEN in Saanich orthography and pronounced ) is the language of the First Nations Saanich people. Saanich is a member of a dialect continuum called ''Northern Straits'' which is a Coast Salishan languag ...
of Coastal Salish, Salish-Spokane-Kalispel, and Chemakum, *k went further and affricated to . Likewise, historical *k’ has become and historical *x has become ; there was no *g or *ŋ. In the
Northwest Caucasian languages The Northwest Caucasian languages, also called West Caucasian, Abkhazo-Adyghean, Abkhazo-Circassian, Circassic, or sometimes ''Pontic languages'' (in contrast to ''Caspian languages'' for the ), are a spoken in the northwestern region,Hoiberg, ...

Northwest Caucasian languages
, historical * has also become palatalized, becoming in Ubykh and in most
CircassianCircassian may refer to: * Pertaining to Circassia, a formerly independent country located in present-day European Russia ** Circassian coast, on the Black Sea * Circassians, also known as Adyghe people ** Circassian beauties, an idealized image of ...
varieties. In both regions the languages retain a labialized velar series (e.g. in the Pacific Northwest) as well as
uvular consonant Uvulars are consonants place of articulation, articulated with the back of the tongue against or near the Palatine uvula, uvula, that is, further back in the mouth than velar consonants. Uvulars may be stop consonant, stops, fricative consonant, f ...
s. In the languages of those families that retain plain velars, both the plain and labialized velars are ''pre-velar'', perhaps to make them more distinct from the uvulars which may be ''post-velar''. Prevelar consonants are susceptible to palatalization. A similar system, contrasting with and leaving marginal at best, is reconstructed for
Proto-Indo-European Proto-Indo-European (PIE) is the theorized common ancestor of the Indo-European language family The Indo-European languages are a language family A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech ( ...
. Apart from the voiced stop , no other velar consonant is particularly common, even the and that occur in English. Of course, there can be no phoneme in a language that lacks voiced stops, like
Mandarin Chinese Mandarin (; ) is a group of Sinitic (Chinese) languages natively spoken across most of northern and southwestern China China (), officially the People's Republic of China (PRC; ), is a country in . It is the world's , with a of more ...
, but it is sporadically missing elsewhere. Of the languages surveyed in the ''World Atlas of Language Structures'', about 10% of languages that otherwise have are missing .The World Atlas of Language Structures Online:Voicing and Gaps in Plosive Systems
/ref> Pirahã has both a and a phonetically. However, the does not behave as other consonants, and the argument has been made that it is phonemically , leaving Pirahã with only as an underlyingly velar consonant.
Hawaiian Hawaiian may refer to: * Hawaii state residents, regardless of ancestry * Native Hawaiians, the current term for the indigenous people of the Hawaiian Islands or their descendants * Hawaiian language Historic uses * things and people of the Kingdo ...
does not distinguish from ; tends toward at the beginning of utterances, before , and is variable elsewhere, especially in the dialect of Niihau and Kauai. Since Hawaiian has no , and varies between and , it is not clearly meaningful to say that Hawaiian has phonemic velar consonants. Several
Khoisan languages The Khoisan languages (; also Khoesan or Khoesaan) are a group of Languages of Africa, African languages originally classified together by Joseph Greenberg. Khoisan languages share click languages, click consonants and do not belong to other Afri ...

Khoisan languages
have limited numbers or distributions of pulmonic velar consonants. (Their click consonants are articulated in the uvular or possibly velar region, but that occlusion is part of the
airstream mechanism In phonetics Phonetics is a branch of linguistics that studies how humans produce and perceive sounds, or in the case of sign languages, the equivalent aspects of sign. Phoneticians—linguists who specialize in phonetics—study the physical pr ...
rather than the place of articulation of the consonant.)
Khoekhoe Khoekhoen (singular Khoekhoe) (or Khoikhoi in the former orthography; formerly also '' Hottentots''"Hottentot, n. and adj." ''OED Online'', Oxford University Press, March 2018, www.oed.com/view/Entry/88829. Accessed 13 May 2018. Citing G. S. ...
, for example, does not allow velars in medial or final position, but in Juǀ'hoan velars are rare even in initial position.


consonants

Normal velar consonants are ''dorso-velar'': The dorsum (body) of the tongue rises to contact the velum (soft palate) of the roof of the mouth. In disordered speech there are also ''velo-dorsal'' stops, with the opposite articulation: The velum lowers to contact the tongue, which remains static. In the
extensions to the IPA The extensions to the International Phonetic Alphabet, also extIPA symbols for disordered speech or simply extIPA , are a set of letters and diacritics devised by the International Clinical Phonetics and Linguistics Association to augment the In ...
for disordered speech, these are transcribed by reversing the IPA letter for a velar consonant, e.g. ⟨⟩ for a voiceless velodorsal stop, ⟨⟩ for voiced, and ⟨⟩ for nasal.


See also

*
Velarization Velarization is a secondary articulation of consonant In articulatory phonetics, a consonant is a speech sound that is articulated with complete or partial closure of the vocal tract. Examples are , pronounced with the lips; , pronounced wit ...
*
Place of articulation In articulatory phonetics The field of articulatory phonetics is a subfield of phonetics that studies articulation and ways that humans produce speech. Articulatory phoneticians explain how humans produce speech sounds via the interaction of d ...
*
List of phonetics topics A * Acoustic phonetics Acoustic phonetics is a subfield of phonetics Phonetics is a branch of linguistics that studies how humans produce and perceive sounds, or in the case of sign languages, the equivalent aspects of sign. Phoneticians ...


Notes


References


Further reading

* {{IPA navigation Place of articulation