This article has multiple issues. Please help improve it or discuss these issues on the talk page. (Learn how and when to remove these template messages) This article has an unclear citation style. The references used may be made clearer with a different or consistent style of citation and footnoting. (May 2019) (Learn how and when to remove this template message) This article needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed.Find sources: "Ingressive sound" – news · newspapers · books · scholar · JSTOR (July 2019) (Learn how and when to remove this template message) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
IPA Number661
Unicode (hex)U+2193

In phonetics, ingressive sounds are sounds by which the airstream flows inward through the mouth or nose. The three types of ingressive sounds are lingual ingressive or velaric ingressive (from the tongue and the velum), glottalic ingressive (from the glottis), and pulmonic ingressive (from the lungs).

The opposite of an ingressive sound is an egressive sound, by which the air stream is created by pushing air out through the mouth or nose. The majority of sounds in most languages, such as vowels, are both pulmonic and egressive.

Lingual ingressive

Lingual ingressive, or velaric ingressive, describes an airstream mechanism in which a sound is produced by closing the vocal tract at two places of articulation in the mouth. This rarefies the air in the enclosed space by lowering the tongue and then releasing both closures. Such sounds are called "clicks".

Glottalic ingressive

Further information: Implosive consonant

Glottal ingressive is the term generally applied to the implosive consonants, which actually use a mixed glottalic ingressive–pulmonic egressive airstream. True glottalic ingressives are quite rare and are called "voiceless implosives" or "reverse ejectives".

Pulmonic ingressive

Pulmonic ingressive describes ingressive sounds in which the airstream is created by the lungs. These are generally considered paralinguistic. They may be found as phonemes, words, and entire phrases on all continents and in genetically-unrelated languages, most frequently in sounds for agreement and backchanneling. Some pulmonic ingressive sounds do not have egressive counterparts. For example, the cell for a velar trill in the IPA chart is greyed out as not being possible, but an ingressive velar (or velic) trill is a snort.[1]

Pulmonic ingressive sounds are extremely rare outside paralinguistics. A pulmonic ingressive phoneme was found in the ritual language Damin; its last speaker died in the 1990s. ǃXóõ has a series of nasalized click consonants in which the nasal airstream is pulmonic ingressive. Ladefoged & Maddieson (1996:268) state, "This ǃXóõ click is probably unique among the sounds of the world's languages that, even in the middle of a sentence, it may have ingressive pulmonic airflow."

In the extensions to the International Phonetic Alphabet, ingressive sounds are indicated with so the Norwegian backchanneling particles ja and nei would be transcribed jɑː↓ and næɪ↓.

Laver[2] uses ˒ instead for j˒ɑː˒ and n˒æɪ˒.[3]

Ingressive speech

Ingressive speech sounds are produced while the speaker breathes in, in contrast to most speech sounds, which are produced as the speaker breathes out. The air that is used to voice the speech is drawn in rather than pushed out. Ingressive speech can be glottalic, velaric, or pulmonic.


Ingressive sounds occur in many languages. Despite being a common phenomenon, they are frequently associated with Scandinavian languages. Most words that are subject to ingressive speech are feedback words ("yes, no") or very short or primal (a cry of pain or sobbing). It sometimes occurs in rapid counting to maintain a steady airflow throughout a long series of unbroken sounds. It is also very common in animals, frogs, dogs, and cats (purring). In English, ingressive sounds include when one says "Huh!" (a gasping sound) to express surprise or "Sss" (an inward hiss) to express empathy when another is hurt.

Tsou and Damin have both been claimed to possess an ingressive phoneme. Neither claim has been validated to date however, and the Tsou claim has been nearly disproved. There are claims of Tohono O'odham women speaking entirely ingressively.[4]

There are examples of ingressive sounds that belong to paralanguage. Japanese has what has been described an apicoprepalatal fricative approximant. This sound is similar to an inbreathed [s]. It is used as a response to statements that are upsetting or as a sign of deference. Japanese-speakers also use an ingressive bilateral bidental friction as a "pre-turn opening in conversation" or to begin a prayer.[5][6]


Speech technologist Robert Eklund has found reports of ingressive speech in around 50 languages worldwide, dating as far back as Cranz's (1765) "Historie von Grönland" which mentions it in female affirmations among the Eskimo.

Inhaled affirmative 'yeah'

Several languages include an affirmative "yeah", "yah", "yuh", or "yes" that is made with inhaled breath, which sounds something like a gasp. That is an example of a pulmonic ingressive and is found as follows:


  1. ^ University of Hawaii Working Papers in Linguistics, 1969, Volume 1, Parts 4–6, Page 115.
  2. ^ Laver (1994) Principles of Phonetics, p. 169
  3. ^ The diacritic is actually centered on the x-height, rather than resting on the baseline.
  4. ^ Eklund, R. "Pulmonic ingressive speech: a neglected universal?". Fonetik 2007, 30 May–1 June 2007, Stockholm, Sweden: 21–24.
  5. ^ "Airstream Mechanisms" (PDF). Department of Linguistics. Archived from the original (PDF) on June 20, 2010. Retrieved July 19, 2016.
  6. ^ Poyatos, Fernando (2002). Nonverbal Communication across Disciplines: Volume 2: Paralanguage, kinesics, silence, personal and environmental interaction. John Benjamins Publishing. p. 162. ISBN 9789027297112.
  7. ^ Robert Eklund (2008): Pulmonic ingressive phonation: Diachronic and synchronic characteristics, distribution and function in animal and human sound production and in human speech, Journal of the International Phonetic Association, vol. 38, no. 3, pp. 235–324.
  8. ^ Bird, Lindsay (Oct 16, 2016). "An Atlantic Canadian speech pattern, explained 'Ingressive pulmonic speech' used only in a few parts of the world". CBC News. Retrieved 17 October 2016.
  9. ^ Gee, Oliver (8 January 2015). "Is this the strangest sound in Swedish?". Retrieved 25 January 2015.
  10. ^ Cfr. third and fourth acceptions

General sources