Uvularization or uvularisation (British English) is a secondary articulation of consonants or vowels by which the back of the tongue is constricted toward the uvula and upper pharynx during the articulation of a sound with its primary articulation elsewhere.

IPA symbols

In the International Phonetic Alphabet, uvularization can be indicated by the symbol ⟨ʶ⟩ (a superscript voiced uvular fricative (inverted small capital R)) after the letter standing for the consonant that is uvularized, as in [tʶ] (the uvularized equivalent of [t]). The symbol ⟨ᵡ⟩ (a superscript voiceless uvular fricative) is sometimes used on voiceless consonants. This is specified in VoQS standards.


Uvularized consonants are often not distinguished from pharyngealized consonants, and they may be transcribed as if they were pharyngealized.

In Arabic and several other Semitic and Berber languages, uvularization is the defining characteristic of the series of "emphatic" coronal consonants.[1][2]

Uvularized consonants in standard Arabic are /sʶ/, /dʶ/, /tʶ/, /ðʶ/, /lʶ/. Regionally there is also /zʶ/ and /rʶ/. Other consonants, and vowels, may be phonetically uvularized.

In Greenlandic, long vowels are uvularized before uvular consonants,[3] and English speakers retaining the Northumbrian Burr are reported both to uvularize and to retract vowels before a rhotic.[4]


  1. ^ McCarthy, John (1994) "The phonetics and phonology of Semitic pharyngeals. In Keating (ed.) Phonological structure and phonetic form: papers in laboratory phonology III, 191–233. Cambridge University Press.
  2. ^ Shahin, Kimary (1996) "Accessing pharyngeal place in Palestinian Arabic", in Eid & Parkinson (eds.) Perspectives on Arabic Linguistics: Papers from the Ninth Annual Symposium on Arabic Linguistics, Washington DC, 1995, 131–149
  3. ^ Sydney Wood (1997) "The gestural organization of vowels and consonants: a cinefluorographic study of articulator gestures in Greenlandic", 5th European Conference on Speech Communication and Technology
  4. ^ Wells, J. (1982) Accents of English, 3 vols. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.