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Voiceless velar stop

Voiceless velar stop
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IPA number 109
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Kirshenbaum k
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The voiceless velar stop or voiceless velar plosive is a type of consonantal sound used in many spoken languages. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is k, and the equivalent X-SAMPA symbol is k.

The [k] sound is a very common sound cross-linguistically. Most languages have at least a plain [k], and some distinguish more than one variety. Most Indo-Aryan languages, such as Hindi and Bengali, have a two-way contrast between aspirated and plain [k]. Only a few languages lack a voiceless velar stop, e.g. Tahitian.

There is also a voiceless post-velar stop (also called pre-uvular) in some languages. For voiceless pre-velar stop (also called post-palatal), see voiceless palatal stop.


Features of the voiceless velar stop:

  • Its manner of articulation is occlusive, which means it is produced by obstructing airflow in the vocal tract. Since the consonant is also oral, with no nasal outlet, the airflow is blocked entirely, and the consonant is a stop.
  • Its place of articulation is velar, which means it is articulated with the back of the tongue at the soft palate.
  • Its phonation is voiceless, which means it is produced without vibrations of the vocal cords. In some languages the vocal cords are actively separated, so it is always voiceless; in others the cords are lax, so that it may take on the voicing of adjacent sounds.
  • It is an oral consonant, which means air is allowed to escape through the mouth only.
  • It is a central consonant, which means it is produced by directing the airstream along the center of the tongue, rather than to the sides.
  • The airstream mechanism is pulmonic, which means it is articulated by pushing air solely with the lungs and diaphragm, as in most sounds.


IPA Description
k plain k
aspirated k
palatalized k
labialized k
k with no audible release
voiced k
ejective k


Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Abkhaz ақалақь [ˈakalakʲ] 'the city' See Abkhaz phonology
Adyghe Shapsug кӀэт [kʲat] 'chicken' Dialectal. Corresponds to [t͡ʃ] in other dialects.
Ahtna gistaann [kɪstʰɐːn] 'six'
Aleut[1] kiikax̂ [kiːkaχ] 'cranberry bush'
Arabic Standard[2] كتب [ˈkatabɐ] 'he wrote' See Arabic phonology
Armenian Eastern[3] քաղաք [kʰɑˈʁɑkʰ] 'town' Contrasts with unaspirated form.
Assyrian Neo-Aramaic kuleh [kulɛː] 'all' Used in most varieties, with the exception of the Urmia and Nochiya dialects
where it corresponds to [t͡ʃ].
Basque katu [kat̪u] 'cat'
Bengali [kɔm] 'less' Contrasts with aspirated form. See Bengali phonology
Bulgarian как [kak] 'how'
Catalan[4] quinze [ˈkinzə] 'fifteen' See Catalan phonology
Chinese Cantonese gaa1 [kaː˥] 'home' Contrasts with aspirated and or labialized forms. See Cantonese phonology
Mandarin gāo [kɑʊ˥] 'high' Contrasts with aspirated form. See Mandarin phonology
Czech kost [kost] 'bone' See Czech phonology
Danish Standard[5] gås [ˈkɔ̽ːs] 'goose' Usually transcribed /ɡ̊/ or /ɡ/. Contrasts with aspirated form, which is usually transcribed /kʰ/ or /k/. See Danish phonology
Dutch[6] koning [ˈkoːnɪŋ] 'king' See Dutch phonology
English Australian[7] caught [ḵʰoːt] 'caught' Post-velar.[7] Allophone of /k/ before /ʊ oː ɔ oɪ ʊə/.[7] See Australian English phonology
Most speakers kiss [kʰɪs] 'kiss' See English phonology
Estonian kõik [kɤik] 'all'
Esperanto kato [kato] 'cat'
Finnish kakku [kɑkːu] 'cake' See Finnish phonology
French[8] cabinet [kabinɛ] 'office' See French phonology
Georgian[9] ვა [kʰva] 'stone'
German Käfig [ˈkʰɛːfɪç] 'cage' See German phonology
Greek καλόγερος kalógeros [kaˈlo̞ʝe̞ro̞s̠] 'monk' See Modern Greek phonology
Gujarati કાંદો [kɑːnd̪oː] 'onion' See Gujarati phonology
Hebrew כסף kesef [ˈkesef] 'money' See Modern Hebrew phonology
Hindi काम [kɑːm] 'work' Contrasts with aspirated form. See Hindi-Urdu phonology
Hungarian akkor [ɒkkor] 'then' See Hungarian phonology
Italian[10] casa [ˈkaza] 'house' See Italian phonology
Japanese[11] kaban [kabaɴ] 'handbag' See Japanese phonology
Kagayanen[12] ? [kað̞aɡ] 'spirit'
Korean 키조개 kijogae [kʰid͡ʑoɡɛ] 'Atrina pectinata' See Korean phonology
Macedonian кој [kɔj] 'who' See Macedonian phonology
Marathi वच [kəʋət͡s] 'armour' Contrasts with aspirated form. See Marathi phonology
Lakota kimímela [kɪˈmɪmela] 'butterfly'
Malay kaki [käki] 'leg'
Norwegian kake [kɑːkɛ] 'cake' See Norwegian phonology
Pashto كال [kɑl] 'year'
Polish[13] buk About this sound [ˈbuk]  'beech tree' See Polish phonology
Portuguese[14] corpo [ˈkoɾpu] 'body' See Portuguese phonology
Punjabi ਕਰ [kəɾ] 'do' Contrasts with aspirated form.
Romanian[15] când [ˈkɨnd] 'when' See Romanian phonology
Russian[16] короткий About this sound [kɐˈrotkʲɪj]  'short' See Russian phonology
Slovak kosť [kosc] 'bone'
Spanish[17] casa [ˈkasa] 'house' See Spanish phonology
Swedish ko [ˈkʰuː] 'cow' See Swedish phonology
Turkish kulak [kʰuɫäk] 'ear' See Turkish phonology
Ubykh ? [needs IPA] 'slat' Found mostly in loanwords. See Ubykh phonology
Ukrainian колесо [ˈkɔɫɛsɔ] 'wheel' See Ukrainian phonology
Urdu کتاب [kɪtɑːb] 'book' Contrasts with aspirated form. See Hindi-Urdu phonology
Vietnamese[18] cam [kaːm] 'orange' See Vietnamese phonology
West Frisian keal [kɪəl] 'calf'
Western Neo-Aramaic Bakh'a [example needed] Post-velar; somewhat more front in Ma'loula.
Yi ge [kɤ˧] 'foolish' Contrasts aspirated and unaspirated forms.
Zapotec Tilquiapan[19] canza [kanza] 'walking'

See also



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  • Carbonell, Joan F.; Llisterri, Joaquim (1992), "Catalan", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 22 (1–2): 53–56, doi:10.1017/S0025100300004618 
  • Cruz-Ferreira, Madalena (1995), "European Portuguese", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 25 (2): 90–94, doi:10.1017/S0025100300005223 
  • Dum-Tragut, Jasmine (2009), Armenian: Modern Eastern Armenian, Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company 
  • Fougeron, Cecile; Smith, Caroline L. (1993), "French", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 23 (2): 73–76, doi:10.1017/S0025100300004874 
  • Gussenhoven, Carlos (1992), "Dutch", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 22 (2): 45–47, doi:10.1017/S002510030000459X 
  • Jassem, Wiktor (2003), "Polish", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 33 (1): 103–107, doi:10.1017/S0025100303001191 
  • Ladefoged, Peter (2005), Vowels and Consonants (Second ed.), Blackwell 
  • Mannell, R.; Cox, F.; Harrington, J. (2009), An Introduction to Phonetics and Phonology, Macquarie University 
  • Martínez-Celdrán, Eugenio; Fernández-Planas, Ana Ma.; Carrera-Sabaté, Josefina (2003), "Castilian Spanish", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 33 (2): 255–259, doi:10.1017/S0025100303001373 
  • Merrill, Elizabeth (2008), "Tilquiapan Zapotec", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 38 (1): 107–114, doi:10.1017/S0025100308003344 
  • Okada, Hideo (1991), "Phonetic Representation:Japanese", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 21 (2): 94–97, doi:10.1017/S002510030000445X 
  • Olson, Kenneth; Mielke, Jeff; Sanicas-Daguman, Josephine; Pebley, Carol Jean; Paterson, Hugh J., III (2010), "The phonetic status of the (inter)dental approximant", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 40 (2): 199–215, doi:10.1017/S0025100309990296 
  • Padgett, Jaye (2003), "Contrast and Post-Velar Fronting in Russian", Natural Language & Linguistic Theory 21 (1): 39–87, doi:10.1023/A:1021879906505 
  • Rogers, Derek; d'Arcangeli, Luciana (2004), "Italian", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 34 (1): 117–121, doi:10.1017/S0025100304001628 
  • Shosted, Ryan K.; Chikovani, Vakhtang (2006), "Standard Georgian", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 36 (2): 255–264, doi:10.1017/S0025100306002659 
  • Thelwall, Robin (1990), "Arabic", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 20 (2): 37–41, doi:10.1017/S0025100300004266 
  • Thompson, Laurence (1959), "Saigon phonemics", Language 35 (3): 454–476, JSTOR 411232, doi:10.2307/411232