Glottal stop

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Glottal stop
IPA number113
Entity (decimal)ʔ
Unicode (hex)U+0294
Braille⠆ (braille pattern dots-23)
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This article is about the sound in spoken language. For the letter, see Glottal stop (letter). For consonants followed by superscript ˀ, see Glottalization.
Glottal stop
IPA number113
Entity (decimal)ʔ
Unicode (hex)U+0294
Braille⠆ (braille pattern dots-23)
Sorry, your browser either has JavaScript disabled or does not have any supported player.
You can download the clip or download a player to play the clip in your browser.

The glottal 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 ʔ.

In English, the glottal stop is represented, for example, by the hyphen in uh-oh!. For most United States English speakers, a glottal stop is used as an allophone of /t/ between a vowel and a syllabic "n", as in button or mountain, except when talking slowly.[citation needed]


Features of the glottal stop:

Phonology and symbolization of the glottal stop in selected languages[edit]

Although this segment is not a written[1] phoneme in English, it is present 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. Standard English inserts a glottal stop before a tautosyllabic voiceless stop, e.g. sto’p, tha’t, kno’ck, wa’tch, also lea’p, soa’k, hel’p, pin’ch.[2]

In many languages that don't allow a sequence of vowels, such as Persian, the glottal stop may be used to break up such a hiatus. There are intricate interactions between falling tone and the glottal stop in the histories of such languages as Danish (cf. stød), Chinese and Thai.[citation needed]

In the traditional Romanization of many languages, such as Arabic, the glottal stop is transcribed with an apostrophe, , and this is the source of the IPA character ʔ. In many Polynesian languages that use the Latin alphabet, however, the glottal stop is written with a reversed apostrophe, (called ‘okina in Hawaiian and Samoan), which, confusingly, is also used to transcribe the Arabic ayin and is the source of the IPA character for the voiced pharyngeal fricative ʕ. In Malay the glottal stop is represented by the letter k, in Võro and Maltese by q.

Road sign in British Columbia showing the use of 7 instead of ʔ in the Squamish language.

Other scripts also have letters used for representing the glottal stop, such as the Hebrew letter aleph א, and the Cyrillic letter palochka Ӏ used in several Caucasian languages. In Tundra Nenets it is represented by the letters apostrophe ʼ and double apostrophe ˮ. 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 also in Modern German and Hausa). Some orthographies employ 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"). When it occurs in the end of a Tagalog word, the last vowel is written with a circumflex accent (known as the pakupyâ), if both a stress and a glottal stop occurs at 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 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.[6] Sometimes the number symbol 7 is used if the ʔ character is not available to the typesetter, and in some cases such as in the Squamish language, the 7 has become the preferred symbol.

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


Abkhazаи[ʔaj]'no'See Abkhaz phonology.
ArabicStandard[7]أغاني[ʔaˈɣaːniː]'songs'See Arabic phonology, Hamza.
Metropolitan[8]شقة[ˈʃæʔʔæ]'apartment'Metropolitan dialects including Egyptian Arabic.[8] Corresponds to /q/ in Literary Arabic.
Assyrian Neo-Aramaicsa'at[sʔɐt]'clock' or 'watch'
Burmeseမြစ်များ[mjiʔ mjà]'rivers'
Cebuanotubo-o[ˈtuboʔo]'to grow'
Chechenкхоъ / qo'[qoʔ]'three'
ChineseCantonese oi3[ʔɔːi˧]'love'See Cantonese phonology.
Wu一级了 iqciqlheq[ʔiɪʔ.tɕiɪʔ.ʔləʔ]'superb'
Czechpoužívat[poʔuʒiːvat]'to use'See Czech phonology.
Danishhånd[hɞnʔ]'hand'See Danish phonology.
Dutch[9]beamen[bəʔˈaːmə(n)]'to confirm'See Dutch phonology.
EnglishRPuh-oh![ˈʌʔəʊ]exclamation of surprise or amazement
Australiancat[kʰæʔ(t)]'cat'Allophone of /t/. See glottalization and English phonology.
RP[11] and GAbuttonAbout this sound [ˈbɐʔn̩] 'button'
Esperantoscii[ˈst͡si.ʔi]'to know'See Esperanto phonology.
Finnishlinja-auto[ˈlinjɑʔˌɑuto]'bus'See Finnish phonology.
GermanNorthernBeamter[bəˈʔamtɐ]'civil servant'See German phonology.
[citation needed]
Guaraníavañe[ãʋ̃ãɲẽˈʔẽ]'Guaraní'Occurs only between vowels.
Hawaiian[12]ʻeleʻele[ˈʔɛlɛˈʔɛlɛ]'black'See Hawaiian phonology.
Hebrewמאמר[maʔămaʁ]'article'See Modern Hebrew phonology.
Icelandicen[ʔɛn]'but'Only used according to emphasis, never occurring in minimal pairs.
Ilokonalab-ay[na.lab.'ʔaj]'bland tasting'Hyphen when occurring within the word. Unlike Tagalog, Iloko does not have words that end in this phoneme.
Indonesianbakso[ˌbäʔˈso]'meatball'Allophone of /k/ or /ɡ/ in the syllable coda.
Javanese[13]anak[änäʔ]'child'Allophone of /k/ in morpheme-final position.
Korean[ʔil]'one'In free variation with no glottal stop. Occurs only in initial position of word.
Malaytidak[ˈtidäʔ]'no'Allophone of final /k/ in the syllable coda, pronounced before consonants or at end of word.
Nahuatltahtli[taʔtɬi]'father'Often left unwritten.
Nez Perceyáakaʔ[ˈjaːkaʔ]'black bear'
Nheengatu[15]ai[aˈʔi]'sloth'Transcription (or absence thereof) varies.
Persianمعنی[maʔni]'meaning'See Persian phonology.
Portuguese[16]Vernacular Brazilianê-ê[17][ˌʔe̞ˈʔeː]ironic 'yeah, right!'[18]Marginal sound. Does not occur after or before a consonant. In Brazilian casual speech, there is at least one [ʔ]vowel lengthpitch accent minimal pair (triply unusual, the ideophones short ih vs. long ih). See Portuguese phonology.
Some speakersà aula[ˈa ˈʔawlɐ]'to the class'
Rarotongan and Southern Cook Islands Māoritaʻi[taʔi]'one'
Rotuman[19]ʻusu[ʔusu]'to box'
Samoanmaʻi[maʔi]'sickness, illness'
SpanishNicaraguan[20]s alto[ˈma ˈʔal̻t̻o̞]'higher'Marginal sound or allophone of /s/ between vowels in different words. Does not occur after or before a consonant. See Spanish phonology.
Yucateco[21]cuatro años[ˈkwatɾo̞ ˈʔãɲo̞s]'four years'
Tagalogiihi[ˌʔiːˈʔiːhɛʔ]'will urinate'See Tagalog phonology.
Thaiอา[ʔaː]'uncle'/'aunt' (father's younger sibling)
Tundra Nenetsвыʼ[wɨʔ]'tundra'
Vietnamese[22]oi[ʔɔj˧]'sultry'In free variation with no glottal stop. See Vietnamese phonology.
Võropiniq[ˈpinʲiʔ]'dogs'"q" is Võro plural marker (maa, kala, "land", "fish"; maaq, kalaq, "lands", "fishes").

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Kortlandt, Frederik (1993). "General Linguistics & Indo-European Reconstruction" (PDF). 
  2. ^ Brown, Gillian. 1977:27. Listening to spoken English. London: Longman.
  3. ^ Paul Morrow (March 16, 2011). "The basics of Filipino pronunciation: Part 2 of 3 • accent marks". Pilipino Express. Retrieved July 18, 2012. 
  4. ^ Ricardo M.D. Nolasco. Grammar notes on the national language. 
  5. ^ Joan Schoellner & Beverly D. Heinle, ed. (2007). Tagalog Reading Booklet. Simon & Schister's Pimsleur. pp. 5–6. 
  6. ^ "Proposal to add LATIN SMALL LETTER GLOTTAL STOP to the UCS". 2005-08-10. Retrieved 2011-10-26. 
  7. ^ Thelwall (1990:37)
  8. ^ a b Watson (2002:17)
  9. ^ Gussenhoven (1992:45)
  10. ^ Sivertsen (1960:111)
  11. ^ Roach (2004:240)
  12. ^ Ladefoged (2005:139)
  13. ^ Clark, Yallop & Fletcher (2007:105)
  14. ^ Olson et al. (2010:206–207)
  15. ^ Fonologia e Gramática do Nheengatu – A língua geral falada pelos povos Baré, Warekena e Baniwa (Portuguese)
  16. ^ João Veloso & Pedro Tiago Martins (2013). O Arquivo Dialetal do CLUP: disponibilização on-line de um corpus dialetal do português (Portuguese)
  17. ^ Phonetic symbols for Portuguese phonetic transcription In European Portuguese, the "é é" interjection usually employs an epenthetic /i/, being pronounced [e̞ˈje̞] instead.
  18. ^ 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!". (Portuguese) How to say 'eu, hein' in English – Adir Ferreira Idiomas
  19. ^ Blevins (1994:492)
  20. ^ The hypo-hyperarticulation continuum in Nicaraguan Spanish
  21. ^ Voiceless stop aspiration in Yucatán Spanish: a sociolinguistic analysis
  22. ^ Thompson (1959:458–461)


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