Labiodental nasal

Labiodental nasal
IPA number 115
Entity (decimal) ɱ
Unicode (hex) U+0271
Kirshenbaum M
Braille ⠖ (braille pattern dots-235)⠍ (braille pattern dots-134)
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The labiodental nasal is a type of consonantal sound. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is ɱ. The IPA symbol is a lowercase letter m with a leftward hook protruding from the lower right of the letter. Occasionally it is instead transcribed as an em with a dental diacritic: .

It is pronounced very similarly to the bilabial nasal [m], except instead of the lips touching each other, the lower lip touches the upper teeth. The position of the lips and teeth is generally the same as for the production of the other labiodental consonants, like [f] and [v], though closure is obviously incomplete for the fricatives.

Although commonly appearing in languages, it is overwhelmingly present non-phonemically, largely restricted to appear before labiodental consonants like [f] and [v]. A phonemic /ɱ/ has been reported for the Kukuya language, which contrasts it with /m, mpf, mbv/ and is "accompanied by strong protrusion of both lips". It is [ɱʷ] before /a/ and [ɱ] before /i/ and /e/, perhaps because labialization is constrained by the spread front vowels; it does not occur before back (rounded) vowels.[1] However, there is some doubt that a true stop can be made by this gesture because of gaps between the incisors, which for many speakers would allow air to flow during the occlusion;[2] this is particularly pertinent considering that one of the words with this consonant, /ɱáá/, means a 'gap between filed incisors,'[3] a practice of the local people. The /ɱ/ might be better characterized as a labiodental nasal approximant than as a nasal occlusive.

Nonetheless, it is common phonetically, as it is a typical allophone of /m/ and /n/ before the labiodental fricatives [f] and [v], as in English comfort, circumvent, infinitive, or invent. In Angami, it occurs as an allophone of /m/ before /ə/.

A proposal to retire the letter ɱ was made at the Kiel Convention, at the same time the extensions to the IPA were presented, with the labiodental nasal to be transcribed solely by , but the proposal was defeated in committee.[4]


Features of the labiodental nasal:


Phonemic /ɱ/ is extremely rare. As an allophone of /m/ before [f] or [v], however, it is nearly universal.

Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Catalan mfora [ˈkaɱfuɾə] 'camphor' See Catalan phonology
Czech tramvaj [ˈtraɱvaj] 'tram' See Czech phonology
Danish symfoni [syɱfoˈniˀ] 'symphony' See Danish phonology
Dutch[5][6] omvallen [ˈʔɔɱvɑlə(n)] 'to fall over' See Dutch phonology
English symphony [ˈsɪɱfəni] 'symphony' See English phonology
Finnish kamferi [ˈkɑɱfe̞ri] 'camphor' See Finnish phonology
Greek[7] έμβρυο/émvryo [ˈe̞ɱvrio̞] 'embryo' Learned or careful pronunciation. See Modern Greek phonology
Hebrew סימפוניה [siɱˈfoɲja] 'symphony' See Modern Hebrew phonology
Hungarian hamvad [ˈhɒɱvɒd] 'smoulder' See Hungarian phonology
Italian[8] invece [iɱˈveːt͡ʃe] 'on the contrary' See Italian phonology
Kukuya Teke[9] [ɱíì] 'eyes' Phonemic.
Macedonian трамвај [traɱˈvaj] 'tram' See Macedonian phonology
Norwegian komfyr [kɔɱˈfyːɾ] 'stove' See Norwegian phonology
Romanian învăța [ɨɱˈvət͡sä] 'to learn' See Romanian phonology
Serbo-Croatian[10] трамвај / tramvaj [trǎɱʋaj] 'tram' Allophone of /m/ before /f, ʋ/.[10] See Serbo-Croatian phonology
Slovene[11] simfonija [siɱfɔˈníːja] 'symphony' Allophone of /m/ and /n/ before /f/ and /ʋ/.[11]
Spanish[12] influir [iɱfluˈiɾ] 'to have influence' See Spanish phonology
Swedish amfibie [aɱˈfiːbjɛ] 'amphibia' See Swedish phonology
West Frisian ûnwis [uːɱʋɪs] 'unsure' Allophone of /n/ before labiodental sounds.

See also



  • Kooij, Jan; Van Oostendorp, Marc (2003), Fonologie: uitnodiging tot de klankleer van het Nederlands, Amsterdam University Press 
  • Ladefoged, Peter; Maddieson, Ian (1996), Sounds of the World's Languages, Blackwells 
  • Landau, Ernestina; Lončarić, Mijo; Horga, Damir; Škarić, Ivo (1999), "Croatian", Handbook of the International Phonetic Association: A guide to the use of the International Phonetic Alphabet, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 66–69, ISBN 0-521-65236-7 
  • 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 
  • Newton, Brian (1972), The generative Interpretation of Dialect: A Study of Modern Greek Phonology, Cambridge Studies in Linguistics, 8, Cambridge University Press 
  • Paulian, Christiane (1975), Le Kukuya Langue Teke du Congo: phonologie, classes nominales, Peeters Publishers 
  • Rogers, Derek; d'Arcangeli, Luciana (2004), "Italian", Journal of the International Phonetic Association, 34 (1): 117–121, doi:10.1017/S0025100304001628 
  • Šuštaršič, Rastislav; Komar, Smiljana; Petek, Bojan (1999), "Slovene", Handbook of the International Phonetic Association: A guide to the use of the International Phonetic Alphabet, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 135–139, doi:10.1017/S0025100300004874, ISBN 0-521-65236-7 
  • Verhoeven, Jo (2005), "Belgian Standard Dutch", Journal of the International Phonetic Association, 35 (2): 243–247, doi:10.1017/S0025100305002173 
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