Uvular ejective

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Uvular ejective
IPA number 111 + 401
Entity (decimal) q​ʼ
Unicode (hex) U+0071 U+02BC
Kirshenbaum q`

The uvular ejective is a type of consonantal sound, used in some spoken languages. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is ⟨⟩.


Features of the uvular ejective:

  • Its manner of articulation is occlusive, which means it is produced by obstructing airflow in the vocal tract. Since the consonant is also oral, with no nasal outlet, the airflow is blocked entirely, and the consonant is a stop.
  • Its place of articulation is uvular, which means it is articulated with the back of the tongue (the dorsum) at the uvula.
  • Its phonation is voiceless, which means it is produced without vibrations of the vocal cords.
  • It is an oral consonant, which means air is allowed to escape through the mouth only.
  • It is a central consonant, which means it is produced by directing the airstream along the center of the tongue, rather than to the sides.
  • The airstream mechanism is ejective (glottalic egressive), which means the air is forced out by pumping the glottis upward.


One ejective
A single plain uvular ejective is found in almost all Northeast Caucasian languages, all South Caucasian languages, and some Athabaskan languages, as well as Itelmen, Quechua and Aymara.

  • Itelmen, where it is written ӄ': ӄ'ил'хч [qʼilˀxt͡ʃ] to depart.
  • Georgian, where it is written : ავი [tʼqʼavi] skin, pelt. Unlike its velar counterpart, it does not contrast with voiced or voiceless uvular stops; the voiceless uvular stop of Old Georgian has merged with the voiceless velar fricative in modern Georgian. Some scholars view this Georgian phoneme as being rather an uvular ejective fricative /χʼ/.
  • Tahltan: [qʼaχaːdiː] door.

Two ejectives
Most Salishan languages, the Tlingit language, and Adyghe and Kabardian (Northwest Caucasian) demonstrate a two-way contrast between labialised and plain uvular ejectives.

  • Klallam: ə́ [wəqʼəqʼ] frog, sq̕ʷúŋi(ʔ) [sqʷʼuɴi(ʔ)] head.
  • Lezgian, where the two are written кь and кьв: кьакьан [qʼaqʼan] tall, high, кьвех [qʷʼeχ] groin.
  • North Straits Salish, where the two are written K and in the Saanich orthography: Saanich KEYOṮEN [qʼəjat͡ɬʼənˀ] slug, snail, SEḰĆES [sqʷʼəqʷt͡ʃəs] red huckleberry.

The Akhvakh language appears to have a contrast between lax and tense uvular ejectives: [qʼaː] soup, broth (lax) vs. [qːʼama] cock's comb (tense).

Three ejectives

  • Abkhaz contrasts plain, palatalised and labialised uvular ejectives, written ҟ ҟь ҟə: аҟаҧшь [aqʼapʃ] red, -ҵəҟьа [-t͡ɕʷʼqʲʼa] really, indeed (a verbal suffix), Аҟәа [aqʷʼa] Sukhum. As with Georgian, Abkhaz has no non-ejective uvular stops; the historically present uvular aspirates have merged with their corresponding fricatives, although the aspirates are preserved in Abaza.

Five ejectives

  • The plain uvular ejective is one of the most common consonants in Ubykh, due to its presence in the past tense suffix /-qʼa/. But in addition to palatalised, labialised and plain uvular ejectives, Ubykh also possesses a pharyngealised version and a concurrently labialised and pharyngealised version, making a total of five: [qʼaqʼa] he said it, [məqʲʼ] small and round, [qʷʼa] to seize, [qˤʼaqˤʼ] to chew, [qʷˤʼa] cavern.
Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Abaza къапщы [qʼapɕǝ] 'red'
Abkhaz аҟаҧшь [aqʼapʃ] 'red'
Adyghe Hakuchi къӏэ About this sound [qʼa]  'hand' Dialectal. Corresponds to [ʕ] in other dialects.
Archi къам [qʼam] 'forelock'
Georgian რუ [qʼru] 'deaf'
Haida qqayttas [qʼajtʼas] 'basket'
Tlingit k̲ʼateil About this sound [qʼʌ́teːɬ]  ‘pitcher’

See also