Voiceless velar stop

Voiceless velar stop
IPA number 109
Entity (decimal) k
Unicode (hex) U+006B
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.

Some languages have the voiceless pre-velar stop,[1] which is articulated slightly more front compared with the place of articulation of the prototypical voiceless velar stop, though not as front as the prototypical voiceless palatal stop - see that article for more information.

Conversely, some languages have the voiceless post-velar stop,[2] which is articulated slightly behind the place of articulation of the prototypical voiceless velar stop, though not as back as the prototypical voiceless uvular stop - see that article for more information.


Features of the voiceless velar 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.
  • 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.


kplain k
aspirated k
palatalized k
labialized k
k with no audible release
voiced k
tense k
ejective k


Abkhazақалақь[ˈakalakʲ]'the city'See Abkhaz phonology
AdygheShapsugкьэт [kʲat] 'chicken'Dialectal; corresponds to [t͡ʃ] in other dialects.
Temirgoyпскэн[pskan]'to cough'
Aleut[3]kiikax̂[kiːkaχ]'cranberry bush'
ArabicModern Standard[4]كتب[ˈkatabɐ]'he wrote'See Arabic phonology
ArmenianEastern[5]քաղաք[kʰɑˈʁɑkʰ]'town'Contrasts with unaspirated form.
Assyrian Neo-Aramaickuleh[kulɛː]'all'Used in most varieties, with the exception of the Urmia and Nochiya dialects
where it corresponds to [t͡ʃ].
Bengali[kɔm]'less'Contrasts with aspirated form. See Bengali phonology
Bulgarianкак[kak]'how'See Bulgarian phonology
Catalan[6]quinze[ˈkinzə]'fifteen'See Catalan phonology
ChineseCantonese/gā [kaː˥]'home'Contrasts with aspirated and or labialized forms. See Cantonese phonology
Mandarin/gāo [kɑʊ˥]'high'Contrasts with aspirated form. See Mandarin phonology
Czechkost[kost]'bone'See Czech phonology
DanishStandard[7]gås[ˈkɔ̽ːs]'goose'Usually transcribed in IPA with ɡ̊ or ɡ. Contrasts with aspirated form, which is usually transcribed in IPA with or k. See Danish phonology
Dutch[8]koning[ˈkoːnɪŋ]'king'See Dutch phonology
Englishkiss [kʰɪs]'kiss'See English phonology
Esperantorakonto[raˈkonto]'tale'See Esperanto phonology
Estoniankõik[kɤik]'all'See Estonian phonology
Finnishkakku[kɑkːu]'cake'See Finnish phonology
French[9]cabinet[kabinɛ]'office'See French phonology
GermanKäfig[ˈkʰɛːfɪç]'cage'See Standard German phonology
Greekκαλόγερος/kalógeros[kaˈlo̞ʝe̞ro̞s̠]'monk'See Modern Greek phonology
Gujaratiકાંદો[kɑːnd̪oː]'onion'See Gujarati phonology
Hebrewכסף/kesef[ˈkesef]'money'See Modern Hebrew phonology
Hindustaniकाम / کام[kɑːm]'work'Contrasts with aspirated form. See Hindustani phonology
Hungarianakkor[ɒkkor]'then'See Hungarian phonology
Italian[11]casa[ˈkaza]'house'See Italian phonology
Japanese[12]/kaban[kabaɴ]'handbag'See Japanese phonology
Korean감자/kamja[kamdʐa]'potato'See Korean phonology
Luxembourgish[14]geess[ˈkeːs]'goat'Less often voiced [ɡ]. It is usually transcribed in IPA as ɡ, and it contrasts with aspirated form, which is usually transcribed k.[14] See Luxembourgish phonology
Macedonianкој[kɔj]'who'See Macedonian phonology
Marathiवच[kəʋət͡s]'armour'Contrasts with aspirated form. See Marathi phonology
Norwegiankake[kɑːkɛ]'cake'See Norwegian phonology
Persian کیمچی [kimt͡ʃi] 'kimchi'
Polish[15]buk [ˈbuk] 'beech tree'See Polish phonology
Portuguese[16]corpo[ˈkoɾpu]'body'See Portuguese phonology
Punjabiਕਰ[kəɾ]'do'Contrasts with aspirated form.
Romanian[17]când[ˈkɨnd]'when'See Romanian phonology
Russian[18]короткий [kɐˈrotkʲɪj] 'short'See Russian phonology
Slovakkosť[kɔ̝sc̟]'bone'See Slovak phonology
Spanish[19]casa[ˈkäsä]'house'See Spanish phonology
Swedishko[ˈkʰuː]'cow'See Swedish phonology
Turkishkulak[kʰuɫäk]'ear'See Turkish phonology
Ubykh[kawar]'slat'Found mostly in loanwords. See Ubykh phonology
Ukrainian[20]колесо[ˈkɔɫɛsɔ]'wheel'See Ukrainian phonology
Vietnamese[21]cam[kam]'orange'See Vietnamese phonology
West Frisiankeal[kɪəl]'calf'See West Frisian phonology
Yi/ge[kɤ˧]'foolish'Contrasts aspirated and unaspirated forms.

See also


  1. Instead of "pre-velar", it can be called "advanced velar", "fronted velar", "front-velar", "palato-velar", "post-palatal", "retracted palatal" or "backed palatal".
  2. Instead of "post-velar", it can be called "retracted velar", "backed velar", "pre-uvular", "advanced uvular" or "fronted uvular".
  3. Ladefoged (2005), p. 165.
  4. Thelwall (1990), p. 37.
  5. Dum-Tragut (2009), p. 13.
  6. Carbonell & Llisterri (1992), p. 53.
  7. Basbøll (2005:61)
  8. Gussenhoven (1992), p. 45.
  9. Fougeron & Smith (1993), p. 73.
  10. Shosted & Chikovani (2006), p. 255.
  11. Rogers & d'Arcangeli (2004), p. 117.
  12. Okada (1991), p. 94.
  13. Olson et al. (2010), pp. 206–207.
  14. 1 2 Gilles & Trouvain (2013:67–68)
  15. Jassem (2003), p. 103.
  16. Cruz-Ferreira (1995), p. 91.
  17. DEX Online :
  18. Padgett (2003), p. 42.
  19. Martínez-Celdrán, Fernández-Planas & Carrera-Sabaté (2003), p. 255.
  20. Danyenko & Vakulenko (1995), p. 4.
  21. Thompson (1959), pp. 458–461.
  22. Merrill (2008), p. 108.


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