Journal of the International Phonetic Association

Research Article

Differences in airstream and posterior place of articulation among Nxs01C0uu clicks

Amanda L. Millera1, Johanna Brugmana2, Bonny Sandsa3, Levi Namaseba4, Mats Extera5 and Chris Collinsa6

a1 Department of Linguistics, Cornell University

a2 Department of Linguistics, Cornell University

a3 Department of English, Northern Arizona University

a4 Department of Language and Literature Studies, The University of Namibia

a5 Institut für Linguistik, Allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft, Universität zu Köln

a6 Department of Linguistics, New York University


This paper describes the consonant inventory of the endangered southern African language Nxs01C0uu. Our novel approach to segment classification accounts for all 73 Nxs01C0uu consonants with just four phonetic dimensions (place, manner, phonation, airstream) and does away with the phonetically empty category click accompaniment. We provide ultrasound data showing that the posterior constrictions in clicks are not produced at the ‘velar’ place of articulation, and that posterior place differs with anterior place. We therefore argue for a terminological shift from velaric to lingual airstream mechanism. Our data also show that the posterior place of articulation is the same in Nxs01C0uu's five lingual ([xs2299 xs01C0 ǃ xs01C1 ǂ]) and linguo-pulmonic ([]) stops. We argue that the difference between these segment classes is best captured in terms of airstream, not place. Plain clicks use only the lingual airstream, while linguo-pulmonic segments are airstream contours, in which the transition to the pulmonic airstream occurs within the segment rather than at its boundary. Our evidence suggests that the contrast between ‘velar’ and ‘uvular’ clicks proposed for the related language ǃXóõ is likely also one of airstream and that a contrast solely in terms of posterior place would be articulatorily impossible.