Glottal stop

Glottal stop

"This article is about the sound in spoken language. For the letter, see glottal stop (letter)."

Pronunciation, and representation in phonetics/linguistics

The glottal stop, or more fully, the voiceless glottal plosive, is a type of consonantal sound which is used in many spoken languages. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is IPA|ʔ. The glottal stop is the sound made when the vocal cords (vocal folds) are (1) drawn together by muscular action to interrupt the flow of air being expelled from the lungs and then (2) released as pressure builds up below them; for example, the break separating the syllables of the interjection "uh-oh". Strictly, the perception that it is a consonantal sound is produced by the release; the closure phase is necessarily silent because during it there is no airflow and the vocal cords are immobilized. It is called the "glottal stop" because the technical term for the gap between the vocal cords, which is closed up in the production of this sound, is the glottis. The term "glottal stop" is one of rather few technical terms of linguistics which have become well known outside the specialism.

Phonology and symbolization of the glottal stop in selected languages

While this segment is not a phoneme in English, it is present phonetically in nearly all dialects of English as an allophone of /t/. Most British English speakers will use it for the first "t" in "fortnight", where a consonant follows immediately; speakers of Cockney and many other dialects will also use it for the "t" between vowels in "city". It is variably present at word boundaries where a vowel follows at the beginning of the next word, as with the final "t" of "sort" in "sort of".

Another common usage of the glottal stop as an allophone to 't' more commonly found in North America is in the environment in which the 't' is immediately followed by a non-syllabic 'n' sound, as in "mutant" or "important".

In many languages which do not allow a sequence of spoken vowel sounds, such as Persian, the glottal stop may be used to break up such a sequence. There are intricate interactions between falling tone and the glottal stop in the histories of such languages as Danish (cf. stød), Chinese and Thai.

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 letter IPA|<ʔ>. In many Polynesian languages which use the Latin alphabet, however, the glottal stop is written with a reversed apostrophe, <‘> (called "‘okina" in Hawaiian), which, confusingly, is also used to transcribe the Arabic ayin and is the source of the IPA character for the voiced pharyngeal fricative <IPA|ʕ>. In Malay, it is represented by the letter , and in Võro by . Representing the glottal stop is one of the functions of the Hebrew letter aleph.

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'). When it occurs in the end of a Tagalog word, the last vowel is written with a circumflex accent (if the accent is on the last syllable) or a grave accent (if the accent occurs at the penultimate syllable).

Phonetic and phonological features

Features of the glottal stop:

* Its airstream mechanism is pulmonic egressive, which means it is articulated by pushing air out of the lungs and through the vocal tract, rather than being initiated from the glottis or from a velic closure.
* Its place of articulation is glottal which means it is articulated at and by the vocal cords (vocal folds).
* Its manner of articulation is plosive or stop, which means it is produced by completely obstructing the airflow in the vocal tract.
* Its phonation type is voiceless, which means it is produced without vibration of the vocal cords; necessarily so, because the vocal cords are held tightly together, preventing vibration.
* It is an oral consonant, which means the air released when the closure is relaxed is allowed to escape through the mouth rather than the nasal cavity.
* Because it is pronounced in the larynx, situated in the windpipe, i.e. it has no component involved in the description of movements of the organs of the mouth, for example the tongue, so the central/lateral dichotomy does not apply, and nor do the tongue-front features such as coronal and distributed.


ee also

* List of phonetics topics
* Stød in Danish
* Saltillo (linguistics)



*Harvard reference
last =Blevins
first= Juliette
year= 1994
title= The Bimoraic Foot in Rotuman Phonology and Morphology
journal= Oceanic Linguistics
volume= 33(2)
pages = 491-516

* Harvard reference
year= 1992
journal=Journal of the International Phonetic Association

*Harvard reference
last = Roach
first= Peter
year= 2004
title=British English: Received Pronunciation
journal=Journal of the International Phonetic Association

*Harvard reference
first=Sanford A
title=French Phonology and Morphology
publisher=Boston, Mass.: M.I.T. Press

*Harvard reference
title=Cockney Phonology
publisher=Oslo: University of Oslo

*Harvard reference
last = Thelwall
first= Robin
year= 1990
title= Illustrations of the IPA: Arabic
journal=Journal of the International Phonetic Association

*Harvard reference
last = Watson
first= Janet
year= 2002
title= The Phonology and Morphology of Arabic
publisher= New York: Oxford University Press

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • glottal stop — n technical a speech sound made by completely closing and then opening your glottis, which in some forms of spoken English may take the place of a /t/ between vowel sounds or may be used before a vowel sound …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • glottal stop — ► NOUN ▪ a consonant formed by the audible release of the airstream after complete closure of the glottis …   English terms dictionary

  • glottal stop — n. Phonet. a speech sound (IPA symbol [ʾ]) articulated by a momentary complete closing of the glottis: it is sometimes heard as a variant for medial t (as in bottle or water) in some English dialects, and is the medial sound in the negative… …   English World dictionary

  • glottal stop — noun a stop consonant articulated by releasing pressure at the glottis; as in the sudden onset of a vowel • Syn: ↑glottal plosive, ↑glottal catch • Hypernyms: ↑stop consonant, ↑stop, ↑occlusive, ↑plosive consonant, ↑ …   Useful english dictionary

  • glottal stop — UK / US noun [countable] Word forms glottal stop : singular glottal stop plural glottal stops linguistics a sound made by stopping air as it passes through your throat. In some varieties of spoken English a glottal stop is often used instead of a …   English dictionary

  • glottal stop — Phonet. 1. a plosive consonant whose occlusion and release are accomplished chiefly at the glottis, as in the Scottish articulation of the t sound of little, bottle, etc. 2. a stop consonant, without release, having glottal occlusion as a… …   Universalium

  • glottal stop — glot|tal stop [ ,glatl stap ] noun count LINGUISTICS a sound made by stopping air as it passes through the throat. In some varieties of spoken English a glottal stop is often used instead of a t sound in the middle or at the end of a word …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • glottal stop — noun A plosive sound articulated with the glottis. Syn: glottal plosive, hiatus …   Wiktionary

  • glottal stop — /glɒtl ˈstɒp/ (say glotl stop) noun a stop consonant made by briefly closing the glottis so tightly that no breath can pass through …   Australian English dictionary

  • glottal stop — glot′tal stop′ n. phn a plosive consonant whose occlusion and release are accomplished chiefly at the glottis, as in the Scottish articulation of the t sound of little, bottle, etc • Etymology: 1885–90 …   From formal English to slang

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