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Aspirated consonant

Aspirated
◌ʰ
Encoding
Entity (decimal)ʰ
Unicode (hex)U+02B0
Voice onset time
+ Aspirated
0 Tenuis
− Voiced
[]This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters. For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA.

In phonetics, aspiration is the strong burst of breath that accompanies either the release or, in the case of preaspiration, the closure of some obstruents. In English, aspirated consonants are allophones in complementary distribution with their unaspirated counterparts, but in some other languages, notably most Indian and East Asian languages, the difference is contrastive.

In dialects with aspiration, to feel or see the difference between aspirated and unaspirated sounds, one can put a hand or a lit candle in front of one's mouth, and say spin [spɪn] and then pin [pʰɪn]. One should either feel a puff of air or see a flicker of the candle flame with pin that one does not get with spin.

Transcription

In the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA), aspirated consonants are written using the symbols for voiceless consonants followed by the aspiration modifier letter ⟨◌ʰ⟩, a superscript form of the symbol for the voiceless glottal fricative ⟨h⟩. For instance, ⟨p⟩ represents the voiceless bilabial stop, and ⟨⟩ represents the aspirated bilabial stop.

Voiced consonants are seldom actually aspirated. Symbols for voiced consonants followed by ⟨◌ʰ⟩, such as ⟨⟩, typically represent consonants with murmured voiced release (see below). In the grammatical tradition of Sanskrit, aspirated consonants are called voiceless aspirated, and breathy-voiced consonants are called voiced aspirated.

There are no dedicated IPA symbols for degrees of aspiration and typically only two degrees are marked: unaspirated ⟨k⟩ and aspirated ⟨⟩. An old symbol for light aspiration was ⟨ʻ⟩, but this is now obsolete. The aspiration modifier letter may be doubled to indicate especially strong or long aspiration. Hence, the two degrees of aspiration in Korean stops are sometimes transcribed ⟨kʰ kʰʰ⟩ or ⟨⟩ and ⟨⟩, but they are usually transcribed [k] and [kʰ], with the details of voice onset time given numerically.

Preaspirated consonants are marked by placing the aspiration modifier letter before the consonant symbol: ⟨ʰp⟩ represents the preaspirated bilabial stop.

Unaspirated or tenuis consonants are occasionally marked with the modifier letter for unaspiration ⟨◌˭⟩, a superscript equals sign: ⟨⟩. Usually, however, unaspirated consonants are left unmarked: ⟨t⟩.

Phonetics

Aspiration of final stops and affricates in Eastern Armenian
Final aspirated and voiceless velar stops
տաք, տակ "hot, under"
tak’ tak [tɑkʰ tɑk]
Final voiceless and aspirated alveolar affricates
այծ, այց "goat, visit"
ayc ayc’ [ɑjt͡s ɑjt͡sʰ]
Final aspirated affricate–stop cluster
գնացք "train"
gnac’k’ [ɡəˈnɑt͡sʰkʰ]
Final aspirated stop–stop cluster
աղոթք "prayer"
aġot’k’ [ɑˈʁɔtʰkʰ]
Problems playing these files? See media help.

Voiceless consonants are produced with the vocal folds open (spread) and not vibrating, and voiced consonants are produced when the vocal folds are fractionally closed and vibrating (modal voice). Voiceless aspiration occurs when the vocal folds remain open after a consonant is released. An easy way to measure this is by noting the consonant's voice onset time, as the voicing of a following vowel cannot begin until the vocal folds close.

In some languages, such as Navajo, aspiration of stops tends to be phonetically realised as voiceless velar airflow; aspiration of affricates is realised as an extended length of the frication.

Aspirated consonants are not always followed by vowels or other voiced sounds. For example, in Eastern Armenian, aspiration is contrastive even word-finally, and aspirated consonants occur in consonant clusters. In Wahgi, consonants are aspirated only when they are in final position.

Degree

The degree of aspiration varies: the voice onset time of aspirated stops is longer or shorter depending on the language or the place of articulation.

Armenian and Cantonese have aspiration that lasts about as long as English aspirated stops, in addition to unaspirated stops. Korean has lightly-aspirated stops that fall between the Armenian and Cantonese unaspirated and aspirated stops as well as strongly-aspirated stops whose aspiration lasts longer than that of Armenian or Cantonese. (See voice onset time.)

Aspiration varies with place of articulation. The Spanish voiceless stops /p t k/ have voice onset times (VOTs) of about 5, 10, and 30 milliseconds, and English aspirated /p t k/ have VOTs of about 60, 70, and 80 ms. Voice onset time in Korean has been measured at 20, 25, and 50 ms for /p t k/ and 90, 95, and 125 for /pʰ tʰ kʰ/.

Doubling

Gemination of aspirated consonants in Eastern Armenian
Double aspirated k’k’
Մեքքա Mek’k’a "Mecca":
/ˈmekʰkʰa/ [ˈmekːʰa]
Double aspirated c’c’
կեցցե kec’c’e "long live!":
/ketsʰˈtsʰe/ [keˈtːsʰe]

When aspirated consonants are doubled or geminated, the stop is held longer and then has an aspirated release. An aspirated affricate consists of a stop, fricative, and aspirated release. A doubled aspirated affricate has a longer hold in the stop portion and then has a release consisting of the fricative and aspiration.

Preaspiration

Icelandic and Faroese have consonants with preaspiration [ʰp ʰt ʰk], and some scholars interpret them as consonant clusters as well. In Icelandic, preaspirated stops contrast with double stops and single stops:

WordIPAMeaning
kapp[kʰɑʰp] or [kʰɑhp]zeal
gabb[kɑpp]hoax
gap[kɑːp]opening

Preaspiration is also a feature of Scottish Gaelic:

WordIPAMeaning
cat[kʰɑʰt]cat

Preaspirated stops also occur in most Sami languages. For example, in Northern Sami, the unvoiced stop and affricate phonemes /p/, /t/, /ts/, /tʃ/, /k/ are pronounced preaspirated ([ʰp], [ʰt] [ʰts], [ʰtʃ], [ʰk]) in medial or final position.

Fricatives and sonorants

Although most aspirated obstruents in the world's languages are stops and affricates, aspirated fricatives such as [sʰ], [ɸʷʰ] or [ɕʰ] have been documented in Korean, though these are allophones of other phonemes. Similarly, aspirated fricatives and even aspirated nasals, approximants, and trills occur in a few Tibeto-Burman languages, in some Oto-Manguean languages, in the Hmongic language Hmu, and in the Siouan language Ofo. Some languages, such as Choni Tibetan, have as many as four contrastive aspirated fricatives [sʰ] [ɕʰ], [ʂʰ] and [xʰ].

Voiced consonants with voiceless aspiration

True aspirated voiced consonants, as opposed to murmured (breathy-voice) consonants such as the [bʱ], [dʱ], [ɡʱ] that are common among the languages of India, are extremely rare. They have been documented in Kelabit.

Phonology

Aspiration has varying significance in different languages. It is either allophonic or phonemic, and may be analyzed as an underlying consonant cluster.

Allophonic

Aspiration and voicing of stops in American English
Labial stops
pin with aspirated p,
spin with unaspirated p,
bin with partially voiced b,
nip with unaspirated p,
nib with partially voiced b:
[pʰɪˑn spɪˑn bɪˑn nɪp nɪˑb]
Aspiration alternation in single-stem and compound word
distend with unaspirated t,
distaste (dis-taste) with aspirated t:
[dɨˈstɛnd dɨsˈtʰeɪst]
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In some languages, such as English, aspiration is allophonic. Stops are distinguished primarily by voicing, and voiceless stops are sometimes aspirated, while voiced stops are usually unaspirated.

English voiceless stops are aspirated for most native speakers when they are word-initial or begin a stressed syllable.

For instance, distend has unaspirated [t] since it is not analyzed as two morphemes, but distaste has an aspirated middle [tʰ] because it is analyzed as dis- + taste and the word taste has an aspirated initial t.

Word-final voiceless stops are sometimes aspirated.

Voiceless stops in Pashto are slightly aspirated prevocalically in a stressed syllable.

Phonemic

In many languages, such as Armenian, Korean, Lakota, Thai, Indo-Aryan languages, Dravidian languages, Icelandic, Faroese, Ancient Greek, and the varieties of Chinese, tenuis and aspirated consonants are phonemic. Unaspirated consonants like [p˭ s˭] and aspirated consonants like [pʰ ʰp sʰ] are separate phonemes, and words are distinguished by whether they have one or the other.

Consonant cluster

Alemannic German dialects have unaspirated [p˭ t˭ k˭] as well as aspirated [pʰ tʰ kʰ]; the latter series are usually viewed as consonant clusters.

Tenseness

In Danish and most southern varieties of German, the lenis consonants transcribed for historical reasons as ⟨b d ɡ⟩ are distinguished from their fortis counterparts ⟨p t k⟩, mainly in their lack of aspiration.

Absence

French, Standard Dutch, Afrikaans, Tamil, Finnish, Portuguese, Italian, Spanish, Russian, Polish, Latvian and Modern Greek are languages that do not have phonemic aspirated consonants.

Examples

Chinese

Aspirated stops and fricatives in Mandarin Chinese
Unaspirated t
dàn [tân]
Aspirated t
tàn [tʰân]
Unaspirated ts
zǎo [tsɑʊ̀]
Aspirated ts
cǎo [tsʰɑʊ̀]
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Standard Chinese (Mandarin) has stops and affricates distinguished by aspiration: for instance, /t tʰ/, /t͡s t͡sʰ/. In pinyin, tenuis stops are written with letters that represent voiced consonants in English, and aspirated stops with letters that represent voiceless consonants. Thus d represents /t/, and t represents /tʰ/.

Wu Chinese and Southern Min has a three-way distinction in stops and affricates: /p pʰ b/. In addition to aspirated and unaspirated consonants, there is a series of muddy consonants, like /b/. These are pronounced with slack or breathy voice: that is, they are weakly voiced. Muddy consonants as initial cause a syllable to be pronounced with low pitch or light (陽 yáng) tone.

Indian languages

Retroflex stops in Hindi
टाल, ठाल, डाल, ढाल ṭāl ṭhāl ḍāl ḍhāl "postpone, wood shop, branch, shield" [ʈal ʈʰal ɖal ɖʱal]
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Main articles: Indo-Aryan languages § Charts, and Dravidian languages § Phonology

Many Indo-Aryan languages have aspirated stops. Sanskrit, Hindustani, Bengali, Marathi, and Gujarati have a four-way distinction in stops: voiceless, aspirated, voiced, and breathy-voiced or voiced aspirated, such as /p pʰ b bʱ/. Punjabi has lost breathy-voiced consonants, which resulted in a tone system, and therefore has a distinction between voiceless, aspirated, and voiced: /p pʰ b/.

Some of the Dravidian languages, such as Telugu, Malayalam, and Kannada, have a distinction between voiced and voiceless, aspirated and unaspirated only in loanwords from Indo-Aryan languages. In native Dravidian words, there is no distinction between these categories and stops are underspecified for voicing and aspiration.

Armenian

Voicing and aspiration in Eastern Armenian stops and affricates
Dental stops
դուր, տուր, թուր
"chisel, give!, sword"
dur, tur, t’ur
[dur tur tʰur]
Final voiced, voiceless, and aspirated velar stops
թագ, թակ, թաք
"crown, mallet, only"
t’ag t’ak t’ak’:
[tʰɑg tʰɑk tʰɑkʰ]
Dental affricates
ձախ, ծախ, ցախ
"left-hand, sale, brushwood"
jax çax c’ax:
[dzɑχ tsɑχ tsʰɑχ]]

Most dialects of Armenian have aspirated stops, and some have breathy-voiced stops.

Classical and Eastern Armenian have a three-way distinction between voiceless, aspirated, and voiced, such as /t tʰ d/.

Western Armenian has a two-way distinction between aspirated and voiced: /tʰ d/. Western Armenian aspirated /tʰ/ corresponds to Eastern Armenian aspirated /tʰ/ and voiced /d/, and Western voiced /d/ corresponds to Eastern voiceless /t/.

Greek

Main article: Ancient Greek phonology

Some forms of Greek before the Koine Greek period are reconstructed as having aspirated stops. The Classical Attic dialect of Ancient Greek had a three-way distinction in stops like Eastern Armenian: /t tʰ d/. These series were called ψιλά, δασέα, μέσα (psilá, daséa, mésa) "smooth, rough, intermediate", respectively, by Koine Greek grammarians.

There were aspirated stops at three places of articulation: labial, coronal, and velar /pʰ tʰ kʰ/. Earlier Greek, represented by Mycenaean Greek, likely had a labialized velar aspirated stop /kʷʰ/, which later became labial, coronal, or velar depending on dialect and phonetic environment.

The other Ancient Greek dialects, Ionic, Doric, Aeolic, and Arcadocypriot, likely had the same three-way distinction at one point, but Doric seems to have had a fricative in place of /tʰ/ in the Classical period, and the Ionic and Aeolic dialects sometimes lost aspiration (psilosis).

Later, during the Koine Greek period, the aspirated and voiced stops /tʰ d/ of Attic Greek lenited to voiceless and voiced fricatives, yielding /θ ð/ in Medieval and Modern Greek. Cypriot Greek is notable for aspirating its inherited (and developed across word-boundaries) voiceless geminate stops, yielding the series /pʰː tʰː cʰː kʰː/.

Other uses

Debuccalization

The term aspiration sometimes refers to the sound change of debuccalization, in which a consonant is lenited (weakened) to become a glottal stop or fricative [ʔ h ɦ].

Breathy-voiced release

Main article: Murmured voice

So-called voiced aspirated consonants are nearly always pronounced instead with breathy voice, a type of phonation or vibration of the vocal folds. The modifier letter ⟨◌ʰ⟩ after a voiced consonant actually represents a breathy-voiced or murmured dental stop, as with the "voiced aspirated" bilabial stop ⟨⟩ in the Indo-Aryan languages. This consonant is therefore more accurately transcribed as ⟨⟩, with the diacritic for breathy voice, or with the modifier letter ⟨⟩, a superscript form of the symbol for the voiced glottal fricative ⟨ɦ⟩.

Some linguists restrict the double-dot subscript ⟨◌̤⟩ to murmured sonorants, such as vowels and nasals, which are murmured throughout their duration, and use the superscript hook-aitch ⟨◌ʱ⟩ for the breathy-voiced release of obstruents.

Other topics

  • Aspirated h
  • Breathy voice
  • Implosive consonant
  • List of phonetic topics
  • Phonation
  • Preaspiration
  • Rough breathing
  • Smooth breathing
  • Tenuis consonant (Unaspirated consonant)
  • Voice onset time
This article uses material from the Wikipedia article Aspirated consonant, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License (view authors).


Date of last edit: 2021-01-28T20:10:05.000Z