Voiceless bilabial stop

Voiceless bilabial stop
IPA number 101
Entity (decimal) p
Unicode (hex) U+0070
Kirshenbaum p
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The voiceless bilabial stop is a type of consonantal sound used in many spoken languages. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is p, and the equivalent X-SAMPA symbol is p.


Features of the voiceless bilabial stop:

  • 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.
  • Because the sound is not produced with airflow over the tongue, the centrallateral dichotomy does not apply.


p plain p
aspirated p
palatalized p
labialized p
p with no audible release
voiced p
tense p
ejective p


The stop [p] is missing from about 10% of languages that have a [b]. (See voiced velar stop for another such gap.) This is an areal feature of the "circum-Saharan zone" (Africa north of the equator, including the Arabian peninsula). It is not known how old this areal feature is, and whether it might be a recent phenomenon due to Arabic as a prestige language (Arabic lost its /p/ in prehistoric times), or whether Arabic was itself affected by a more ancient areal pattern. It is found in other areas as well; for example, in Europe, Proto-Celtic and Old Basque are both reconstructed as having [b] but no [p].

Nonetheless, the [p] sound is very common cross-linguistically. Most languages have at least a plain [p], and some distinguish more than one variety. Many Indo-Aryan languages, such as Hindustani, have a two-way contrast between the aspirated [pʰ] and the plain [p] (also transcribed as [p˭] in extensions to the IPA).


Adygheпаӏо [paːʔʷa] 'hat'
ArabicAlgerianپاپيش[paːpi:ʃ]'beautiful girls'
ArmenianEastern[1]պապիկ [pɑpik] 'grandpa'Contrasts with aspirated form
Assyrian Neo-Aramaicpata[paːta]]'face'
Basqueharrapatu[(h)arapatu]'to catch'
BengaliEasternপানি[pani:]'water'Contrasts with aspirated form. See Bengali phonology
ChineseCantonese爆炸 / baauja [paːu˧ t͡saː˧]'explosion'Contrasts with aspirated form. See Cantonese phonology
Mandarin爆炸 / bàozhà [pɑʊ˥˩ tʂa˥˩]Contrasts with aspirated form. See Mandarin phonology
Catalan[2]parlar [pərˈɫa]'to speak'See Catalan phonology
Czechpes[pɛs]'dog'See Czech phonology
DanishStandard[3]bog[ˈpɔ̽ʊ̯ˀ]'book'Usually transcribed in IPA with or b. Contrasts with aspirated form, which is usually transcribed in IPA with or p. See Danish phonology
Dutch[4]plicht[plɪxt]'duty'See Dutch phonology
Englishpack[pʰæk]'pack'See English phonology
Esperantotempo[ˈtempo]'time'See Esperanto phonology
Finnishpappa[pappa]'grandpa'See Finnish phonology
French[5]pomme[pɔm]'apple'See French phonology
GermanPack[pʰak]'pile'See Standard German phonology
Greekπόδι/pódi[ˈpo̞ði]'leg'See Modern Greek phonology
Gujarati[pəɡ]'foot'See Gujarati phonology
Hebrewפּקיד[pakid]'clerk'See Modern Hebrew phonology
Hindustaniपल / پرچم[pəl]'moment'Contrasts with aspirated form. See Hindustani phonology
Hungarianpápa[ˈpaːpɒ]'pope'See Hungarian phonology
Italian[6]papà[paˈpa]'dad'See Italian phonology
Japanese[7]ポスト/posuto[posɯto]'mailbox'See Japanese phonology
Kabardianпэ [pa] 'nose'
Korean/bit[pit̚]'light'See Korean phonology
Luxembourgish[8]bëlleg [ˈpə̹lə̹ɕ]'cheap'Less often voiced [b]. It is usually transcribed /b/, and contrasts with voiceless aspirated form, which is usually transcribed /p/.[8] See Luxembourgish phonology
Macedonianпее[pɛː]'sing'See Macedonian phonology
Marathiपाऊस[pɑːˈuːs]'rain'See Marathi phonology
Mutsunpo·čor [poːt͡ʃor]'a sore'
Norwegianpappa[pɑpːɑ]'dad'See Norwegian phonology
Persian پول [pul] 'money'
Polish[9]pas [päs] 'belt'See Polish phonology
Portuguese[10]pai[paj]'father'See Portuguese phonology
Punjabi ਪੱਤਾ [pət̪ːäː] 'leaf'
Romanianpas[pas]'step'See Romanian phonology
Russian[11]плод[pɫot̪]'fruit'Contrasts with palatalized form. See Russian phonology
Spanish[12]peso[ˈpe̞so̞]'weight'See Spanish phonology
Swahili pombe [poᵐbɛ] 'beer'
Swedishapa[ˈɑːpʰa]'ape'See Swedish phonology
Toki Pona pona [pona] 'good'
Tsezпу[pʰu]'side'Contrasts with ejective form.
Turkishkap[kʰäp]'pot'See Turkish phonology
Ukrainian[13]павук[pɐ.ˈβ̞uk]'spider'See Ukrainian phonology
Vietnamese[14]nhíp[ɲip˧ˀ˥]'tweezers'See Vietnamese phonology
West Frisianpanne [ˈpɔnə]'pan'
Yi/ba[pa˧]'exchange'Contrasts aspirated and unaspirated forms.
Central Alaskan Yup'ikpanik[panik]'daughter'

See also



  • Basbøll, Hans (2005), The Phonology of Danish, ISBN 0-203-97876-5 
  • 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 
  • Danyenko, Andrii; Vakulenko, Serhii (1995), Ukrainian, Lincom Europa, ISBN 9783929075083 
  • Dum-Tragut, Jasmine (2009), Armenian: Modern Eastern Armenian, Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company 
  • Fougeron, Cecile; Smith, Caroline L (1993), "Illustrations of the IPA:French", Journal of the International Phonetic Association, 23 (2): 73–76, doi:10.1017/S0025100300004874 
  • Gilles, Peter; Trouvain, Jürgen (2013), "Luxembourgish" (PDF), Journal of the International Phonetic Association, 43 (1): 67–74, doi:10.1017/S0025100312000278 
  • 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 
  • 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" (PDF), 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 
  • 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 
  • Thompson, Laurence (1959), "Saigon phonemics", Language, 35 (3): 454–476, doi:10.2307/411232, JSTOR 411232 
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