Appendix:!Xóõ Orthography

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Explanation of the ǃXóõ writing system


Click stops[edit]

All of these examples make use of the ǁ click, but the information is applicable to all ǃXóõ clicks.

  • ǁ = Basic (only the click sound and nothing more)
  • ǁg = Voiced (in which the vocal cords vibrate)
  • ǁx = Voiceless velar fricative (the "ch" in Scottish "loch")
  • gǁx = Voiced velar fricative (velar fricative in which the vocal cords vibrate; see Dutch "g")
  • ǁkxʻ = Voiceless velar ejective (the "ƙ" in Hausa)
  • gǁkxʻ = Voiced velar ejective (velar ejective in which the vocal cords vibrate)
  • ǁq = Voiceless uvular stop (uvular consonants are articulated with the back of the tongue)
  • ǁɢ = Voiced uvular stop
  • ǁqh = Voiceless aspirated stop (aspirated consonants are made with a strong burst of air)
  • gǁqh = Voiced aspirated stop
  • ɢǁqh = Voiced uvular stop aspirated
  • ǁqʻ = Uvular ejective
  • ǁh = Delayed aspiration
  • ǁn̥ = Voiceless nasal (nasal consonants are produced with a lowered velum in the mouth, allowing air to escape freely through the nose)
  • ǁn = Voiced nasal
  • ʻǁn = Pre-glottalized nasal (glottalization is the complete or partial closure of the glottis during the articulation of another sound)
  • ǁʻ = Glottal stop (the hyphen in "uh-oh!)

Non-click stops[edit]

These examples use ts, k and q for illustration.

  • Basic = ts, k, q
  • Voiced = dz, g, ɢ
  • Voiceless aspirated = tsh, kh, gh
  • Voiced aspirated = dtsh, gkh, ɢqh
  • Voiceless velar fricative = tshx, -, -
  • Voiced velar fricative = dtshx, -, -
  • Ejected = tsʻ, kʻ, qʻ
  • Voiceless ejected velar affricate = tsʻkxʻ, kxʻ, -
  • Voiced ejected velar affricate = dtsʻkxʻ, gkxʻ, -

See also[edit]


ǃXóõ contains 5 click consonants. This information is taken straight from Wikipedia.

  • The easiest clicks for English speakers are the dental clicks written with a single pipe, ǀ. They are all sharp (high-pitched) squeaky sounds made by sucking on the front teeth. A simple dental click is used in English to express pity or to shame someone, and sometimes to call an animal, and is written tsk-tsk! in American English, or tut-tut! in British English.
  • Next most familiar to English speakers are the lateral clicks written with a double pipe, ǁ. They are also squeaky sounds, though less sharp than ǀ, made by sucking on the molars on either side (or both sides) of the mouth. A simple lateral click is made in English to get a horse moving, and is conventionally written tchick!
  • Then there are the bilabial clicks, written with a bull's eye, ʘ. These are lip-smacking sounds, but without the pursing of the lips found in a kiss.

The above clicks sound like affricates, in that they involve a lot of friction. The other two families are more abrupt sounds that do not have this friction.

  • With the alveolar clicks, written with an exclamation mark, ǃ, the tip of the tongue is pulled down abruptly and forcefully from the roof of the mouth, sometimes using a lot of jaw motion, and making a hollow pop! like a cork being pulled from an empty bottle. These sounds can be quite loud. Think of making the "click-clock" or "tick-tock" sound without that initial "tick".
  • Finally, the palatal clicks, ǂ, are made with a flat tongue, and are softer popping sounds than the ǃ clicks.

See also[edit]

Vowels and their Tones[edit]

The word ǃa̰ã and its actual pronunciation in IPA

Using a as an example. Tone marks and nasalization are normally not marked on one vowel. Thus, it would appear at first glance that in a word like ǃa̰ã (with an accute accent above the a̰) that only the second vowel is nasalized and that only the first vowel carries a tone and is pharyngealized. The truth is that there is a single high-toned, long, nasalized and pharyngealized vowel.


  • a = plain
  • ã = nasalized (produced with a lowering of the velum so that air escapes both through nose as well as the mouth)
  • a̰ = pharyngealized (the pharynx or epiglottis is constricted during the articulation of the sound; see Arabic)
  • ah = breathy (vocal cords held further apart so that a larger volume of air escapes between them)
  • aʻ = glottalized (complete or partial closure of the glottis during the articulation of another sound)
  • a̰h = sphinteric

See also[edit]


ǃXóõ has 4 tones.

  • á = high tone
  • ā = mid-level tone
  • â = mid-falling tone
  • à = low tone

See also[edit]


  • A ǃXóõ Dictionary, 2nd edition, pp 11-12, →ISBN