Uvular consonant

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Uvulars are consonants articulated with the back of the tongue against or near the uvula, that is, further back in the mouth than velar consonants. Uvulars may be plosives, fricatives, nasal stops, trills, or approximants, though the IPA does not provide a separate symbol for the approximant, and the symbol for the voiced fricative is used instead. Uvular affricates can certainly be made but are rare: they occur in some southern High-German dialects, as well as in a few African and Native American languages. (Ejective uvular affricates occur in as realizations of uvular stops in Lillooet and Georgian.)


Uvular consonants in IPA

The uvular consonants identified by the International Phonetic Alphabet are:

Descriptions in different languages

English has no uvular consonants, and they are unknown in the indigenous languages of Australia and the Pacific. Uvular consonants are however found in many African and Middle-Eastern languages, most notably Arabic, and in Native American languages. In parts of the Caucasus mountains and northwestern North America, nearly every language has uvular stops and fricatives. Two uvular Rs are found in north-western Europe. It was once thought that they spread from northern French, but some linguists[who?] believe that contact does not explain the appearance of all uvular Rs in Europe.

The voiceless uvular plosive is transcribed as [q] in both the IPA and SAMPA. It is pronounced somewhat like the voiceless velar plosive [k], but with the middle of the tongue further back on the velum, against or near the uvula. The most familiar use will doubtless be in the transliteration of Arabic place names such as Qatar and Iraq into English, though, since English lacks this sound, this is generally pronounced as the most similar sound that occurs in English, [k].

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