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Clicks and Voice Quality

!Xóõ is a Southern Khoisan language spoken in Botswana. The language is also remarkable for its wide range of contrastive voice qualities. These are illustrated here.

The transcriptions in the example below have been slightly simplified. ǀ = dental click, ! = alveolar click, ǁ = lateral click

Clicking on the ▸ below the English translation will play the speaker used in the corresponding demo on the CD accompanying Ladefoged's "Vowels and Consonants" (this demo does not include types 3 and 4 below).
Clicking on the ▸ in the row called "10 speakers" will play all 10 speakers from Ladefoged's Phonation Types tape.

Related demos:
Voice Quality Contrasts in Gujarati
Voice Quality Contrasts in Jalapa Mazatec
Tone language with Voice Quality differences: Mpi

10 speakers                                       Notes                                      
1. plain voiced ǁaa
("camel-thorn tree")
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emu WebApp -

2. breathy ǃa̤o
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3. plain,
emu WebApp -g before click symbol indicates voicing during click
-the laryngealization involves a transition to a "glottal catch", hence the superscript glottal stop after the vowel.
4. breathy voiced, laryngealized ǀa̤ˀje
("wait for him")
emu WebApp -The laryngealization involves a transition to a "glottal catch", hence the superscript glottal stop after the vowel (simultaneous breathy voicing and laryngealization is impossible).
5. pharyngealized qaˤa
("long ago")
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emu WebApp -in Esling's terms the vowel is modified in the manner characteristic of a voiced pharyngeal (aryepiglottic) approximant [ʕ].
-Type 5 probably has a raised larynx position.
6. strident !a̰̰o
emu WebApp
emu WebApp -The subscript is not a standard diacritic. It is used by Ladefoged to indicate extreme pharyngealization (epiglottalization). In Esling's terms a voiceless pharyngeal fricative with aryepiglottic trilling [ʜ] here functions as a kind of phonation type.
-Type 6 probably has a raised larynx position.

Place of Articulation in !Xóõ clicks

bilabial ʔoo
("get stuck")
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dental ǀʔaa
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alveolar ǃʔaa
("be seated")
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palatal ǂʔaa
("shoot you")
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lateral ǁʔaa
("not to be")
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Notes on Sonagrams:

In the sonagrams all the clicks appear very "pulse-like". This is partly because in all the examples given here the clicks ar accompanied by a glottal stop, giving a long period of silence between release of the click and onset of the following vowel. The glottal stop is not a necessary accompaniment to the click, but simply one of many possible accompainments (see Ladefoged & Maddieson (2008) for extensive discussion and Sounds of the World's Languages for examples).

In fact there are characteristic differences in the release phase of the clicks:
palatal, alveolar: more abrupt (more transient-like)
bilabial, dental, lateral: less abrupt (more affricate-like)

Characteristic spectral differences are:
dental,palatal: Main Energy concentration higher than 2.5 kHz
alveolar, lateral: Main Energy concentration lower than 2.5 kHz
bilabial: Wideband noise

See Ladefoged & Maddieson (2008, pp. 246-259) for description (with diagrams) of how these basic places of articulation are actually realized in clicks, and for discussion of their acoustic properties.

Audio Source:
Sounds of the Worlds Languages.

Esling, J. (1996): Pharyngeal Consonants and the Aryepiglottic Sphincter. Journal of the International Phonetic Association., pp. 65-88
Ladefoged, P. (2005): Vowels and consonants: an introduction to the sounds of languages. Malden: Blackwell.
Ladefoged, P. / Maddieson, I. (2008): The Sounds of the World's Languages. Malden, MA: Blackwell., especially pp. 246-313.