The glottal plosive or stop is a type of consonant
al sound used in many spoken language
s, 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.
[Umeda N., "Occurrence of glottal stops in fluent speech", ''J. Acoust. Soc. Am.'', vol. 64, no. 1, 1978, pp. 88-94.]
Features of the glottal stop:
* It has no phonation
, as there is no airflow through the glottis. It is voiceless, however, in the sense that it is produced without vibration of the vocal cords.
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In the traditional Romanization
of many languages, such as Arabic, the glottal stop is transcribed with an apostrophe, , 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, (called ''‘okina
'' in Hawaiian
), which is commonly used to transcribe the Arabic ayin
as well (also ) and is the source of the IPA character for the voiced pharyngeal fricative
. In Malay
the glottal stop is represented by the letter , in Võro
Other scripts also have letters used for representing the glottal stop, such as the Hebrew letter aleph
and the Cyrillic
, used in several Caucasian languages
. Modern Latin alphabets for various Indigenous Languages of the Caucasus
use the letter heng
('Ꜧ ꜧ'). 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
, "dog") is always pronounced with an unrepresented glottal stop before that vowel (as in Modern German
). Some orthographies use a hyphen instead of the reverse apostrophe if the glottal stop occurs in the middle of the word (e.g. Tagalog , "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").
Some Canadian indigenous languages
, especially some of the Salishan languages
, have adopted the phonetic symbol ʔ itself as part of their orthographies. In some of them, it occurs as a pair of uppercase and lowercase characters, Ɂ and ɂ
. The numeral 7 or question mark
is sometimes substituted for ʔ and is preferred in some languages such as Squamish
whose alphabet is mostly unique from other Salish languagescontrastly 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 ʔ character in their daughters' names: Sahaiʔa, a Chipewyan
name, and Sakaeʔah, 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 ʔ, while continuing to challenge the policy.
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 ("I speak Gaelic"), would be rendered .
In English, the glottal stop occurs as an open juncture
(for example, between the vowel sounds in ''uh-oh!'',) and allophonically in t-glottalization
. In British English
, the glottal stop is most familiar in the Cockney
pronunciation of "butter" as "bu'er". 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 (for example, representing ''uh-oh!'', and are phonemically identical to ).
Often a glottal stop happens at the beginning of vowel phonation
after a silence.
Although this segment is not a phoneme in English, it occurs phonetically in nearly all dialects of English, as an allophone of in the syllable coda. Speakers of Cockney, Scottish English and several other British dialects also pronounce an intervocalic between vowels as in ''city''. In Received Pronunciation, a glottal stop is inserted before a tautosyllabic voiceless stop: stop, that, knock, watch, also leap, soak, help, pinch.] [Brown, Gillian. 1977:27. Listening to spoken English. London: Longman.]
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), Chinese 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:
* Index of phonetics articles