Voiceless velopharyngeal fricative
Entity (decimal)ʩ
Unicode (hex)U+02A9
Voiced velopharyngeal fricative
Voiceless velopharyngeal trill
Entity (decimal)𝼀
Unicode (hex)U+1DF00

A velopharyngeal fricative, also known as a posterior nasal fricative, is a sound produced by some children with speech disorders, including some with a cleft palate, as a substitute for sibilants (/s, z, ʃ, ʒ, tʃ, dʒ, tr, dr/), which cannot be produced with a cleft palate. It results from "the approximation but inadequate closure of the upper border of the velum and the posterior pharyngeal wall."[1] To produce a velopharyngeal fricative, the soft palate approaches the pharyngeal wall and narrows the velopharyngeal port, such that the restricted port creates fricative turbulence in air forced through it into the nasal cavity. The articulation may be aided by a posterior positioning of the tongue and may involve velar flutter (a snorting sound).[2][3]

The term 'velopharyngeal' indicates "articulation between the upper surface of the velum and the back wall of the naso-pharynx."[4]

The base symbol for a velopharyngeal fricative in the extensions to the International Phonetic Alphabet for disordered speech is ʩ, and secondary articulation is indicated with a double tilde, ◌͌. The following variants are described:

Velopharyngeal frication

The letter for the trill was only adopted in 2015; before then the letter ʩ stood for both. Some authorities describe the trilled velopharyngeals as being accompanied by uvular trill rather than velar flutter. Whether this is a difference in interpretation or of pronunciation, it would be explicitly transcribed with a superscript ⟨ʀ⟩: voiceless [ʩ𐞪] and voiced [ʩ̬𐞪].

See also


  1. ^ Martin Duckworth, George Allen, William Hardcastle & Martin Ball (1990) 'Extensions to the International Phonetic Alphabet for the transcription of atypical speech'. Clinical Linguistics & Phonetics 4: 4, p. 276.
  2. ^ Arnold Aronson & Diane Thieme (2009) Clinical Voice Disorders
  3. ^ Linda Vallino, Dennis Ruscello & David Zajac (2017) Cleft Palate Speech and Resonance: An Audio and Video Resource, p. 30–32.
  4. ^ Bertil Malmberg & Louise Kaiser (1968) Manual of phonetics, North-Holland, p. 325.
  5. ^ A double tilde might be confused with doubling the nasal tilde used to indicate that a sound is heavily nasalized