IPA Number423, 428
Entity (decimal)ˤ​̴
Unicode (hex)U+02E4 U+0334

Pharyngealization is a secondary articulation of consonants or vowels by which the pharynx or epiglottis is constricted during the articulation of the sound.

IPA symbols

In the International Phonetic Alphabet, pharyngealization can be indicated by one of two methods:

  1. A tilde or swung dash (IPA Number 428) is written through the base letter (typographic overstrike). It is the older and more generic symbol. It indicates velarization, uvularization or pharyngealization, as in [ᵶ], the guttural equivalent of [z].
  2. The symbol ˤ ⟨ˁ⟩(IPA Number 423) – a superscript variant of ⟨ʕ⟩, the voiced pharyngeal approximant – is written after the base letter. It indicates specifically a pharyngealized consonant, as in [tˤ], a pharyngealized [t].

Computing codes

Since Unicode 1.1, there have been two similar superscript characters: IPA ˤ (U+02E4 modifier letter small reversed glottal stop) and Semiticist ˁ (U+02C1 modifier letter reversed glottal stop). U+02E4 is formally a superscript ʕ (U+0295 LATIN LETTER PHARYNGEAL VOICED FRICATIVE, = reversed glottal stop), and in the Unicode charts looks like a simple superscript ʕ, though in some fonts it looks like a superscript reversed lower-case letter glottal stop ɂ. U+02C1 is a typographic alternative to ʿ (U+02BF MODIFIER LETTER LEFT HALF RING), which is used to transliterate the Semitic consonant ayin. In the Unicode charts it looks like a reversed ˀ (U+02C0 MODIFIER LETTER GLOTTAL STOP), which is used in the IPA for glottalization. There is no parallel Unicode distinction for modifier glottal stop. The IPA Handbook[1] lists U+02E4 as the Unicode equivalent of IPA Number 423, the dedicated IPA symbol for pharyngealization.

The superimposed tilde is assigned Unicode character U+0334. This was originally intended to combine with other letters to represent pharyngealization. However, that usage is now deprecated (though still functional), and several precomposed letters have been adopted to replace it. These are the labial consonants ᵱ ᵬ ᵮ ᵯ and the coronal consonants ᵵ ᵭ ᵴ ᵶ ᵰ ᵲ ᵳ ɫ.

Character ʕ ˤ ˁ ʿ ̴
Unicode name LATIN LETTER PHARYNGEAL VOICED FRICATIVE modifier letter small reversed glottal stop modifier letter reversed glottal stop MODIFIER LETTER LEFT HALF RING COMBINING TILDE OVERLAY
Character encoding decimal hex decimal hex decimal hex decimal hex decimal hex
661 0295 740 02E4 705 02C1 703 02BF 820 0344
Numeric character reference ʕ ʕ ˤ ˤ ˁ ˁ ʿ ʿ ̴ ̴


Ubykh, an extinct Northwest Caucasian language spoken in Russia and Turkey, used pharyngealization in 14 pharyngealized consonants. Chilcotin has pharyngealized consonants that trigger pharyngealization of vowels. Many languages (such as Salishan, Sahaptian) in the Plateau culture area of North America also have pharyngealization processes that are triggered by pharyngeal or pharyngealized consonants, which affect vowels.

The Tuu/“Khoisan” language Taa (or !Xóõ) has pharyngealized vowels that contrast phonemically with voiced, breathy and epiglottalized vowels.[2] That feature is represented in the orthography by a tilde under the respective pharyngealized vowel. In Tuu languages, epiglottalized vowels are phonemic.

For many languages, pharyngealization is generally associated with more dental articulations of coronal consonants. Dark l tends to be dental or denti-alveolar, but clear l tends to be retracted to an alveolar position.[3]

Arabic and Syriac use secondary uvularization, which is generally not distinguished from pharyngealization, for the "emphatic" coronal consonants.

Examples of pharyngealized consonants

(Uvularized consonants are not distinguished.)







Examples of pharyngealized vowels

See also



Further reading