Bilabial nasal click

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Bilabial nasal click
Kirshenbaum m!

The bilabial nasal click is a click consonant found in some of the languages of southern Africa. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is ⟨ʘ̃⟩ or ⟨ᵑʘ⟩.


Features of the bilabial nasal click:

  • The airstream mechanism is lingual ingressive (also known as velaric ingressive), which means a pocket of air trapped between two closures is rarefied by a "sucking" action of the tongue, rather than being moved by the glottis or the lungs/diaphragm. The release of the forward closure produces the "click" sound. Voiced and nasal clicks have a simultaneous pulmonic egressive airstream.
  • Its place of articulation is bilabial, which means it is articulated with both lips.
  • Its phonation is voiced, which means the vocal cords vibrate during the articulation.
  • It is a nasal consonant, which means air is allowed to escape through the nose, either exclusively (nasal stops) or in addition to through the mouth.
  • Because the sound is not produced with airflow over the tongue, the centrallateral dichotomy does not apply.


Bilabial nasal clicks only occur in the Tuu and Kx'a families of southern Africa, in the Australian ritual language Damin, and for /mw/ in some of the languages neighboring Shona, such as at least for some speakers of Ndau and Tonga.

Language Word IPA Meaning
Damin m!ii [ʘ̃iː] 'vegetable'
Tonga kumwa [kʼuʘ̃wa] 'to drink'
Ndau mwana [ʘ̃wana] 'child'

Glottalized bilabial nasal click

bilabial nasal click

The Tuu and Kx'a languages also have glottalized nasal clicks. These are formed by closing the glottis so that the click is pronounced in silence; however, any preceding vowel will be nasalized.

Language Word IPA Meaning