Voiceless palatal approximant

Voiceless palatal approximant
IPA number 153 402A
Entity (decimal) j̊
Unicode (hex) U+006AU+030A
Kirshenbaum j<vls>

The voiceless palatal approximant is a type of consonantal sound, used in a few spoken languages. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is , the voiceless homologue of the voiced palatal approximant.

The palatal approximant can in many cases be considered the semivocalic equivalent of the voiceless variant of the close front unrounded vowel [i̥]. The two are almost identical featurally.

This sound is essentially an ordinary English y (as in year) pronounced without vibration of the vocal cords. This sound is uncommon in English, although it was reported in Harold Orton's The Phonology of a South Durham Dialect.[1]

It is found as a phoneme in Jalapa Mazatec and Washo as well as Kildin Sami.


Features of the voiceless palatal approximant:

  • Its phonation is voiceless, which means it is produced without vibrations of the vocal cords.
  • 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.


Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Jalapa Mazatec[2] Contrasts voiceless /j̊/, plain voiced /j/ and glottalized voiced /ȷ̃/ approximants.[2]
Scottish Gaelic[3] a-muigh [əˈmuj̊] 'outside' (directional) Allophone of /j/ and /ʝ/. See Scottish Gaelic phonology
Washo t'á:Yaŋi [ˈťaːj̊aŋi] 'he's hunting' Contrasts voiceless /j̊/ and voiced /j/ approximants.



  • Silverman, Daniel; Blankenship, Barbara; Kirk, Paul; Ladefoged, Peter (1995), "Phonetic Structures in Jalapa Mazatec", Anthropological Linguistics, The Trustees of Indiana University, 37 (1): 70–88, JSTOR 30028043 
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