Retroflex Clicks

The retroflex clicks are a family of click consonants known only from the Central !Kung dialects of Namibia and the Damin ritual jargon of Australia. They may be sub-apical retroflex and should not be confused with the more widespread postalveolar clicks, which are sometimes called retroflex.

There is no symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents the forward articulation of these sounds, but one may be derived with a rhotic diacritic from the alveolar click: ǃ˞. In the literature they are typically written with the ad hoc digraph ⟨‼⟩, the convention since Doke first described them in 1926. (Doke's proposed symbol, resembling ⟨ψ⟩ (or more precisely an inverted ⟨⋔⟩, descender only), did not catch on. A triple pipe, ⟨⦀⟩, may have been used by other authors for the same thing.) They then went largely unnoticed until ca. 2005.

(For Damin, the retroflex nasal click, which may or may not be similar to the clicks of Central !Kung, was transcribed with the Kirschenbaum convention, n.!.)

Miller (2009) notes that the Grootfontein retroflex clicks have a lateral release, and alternatively transcribes them ⟨ǃǁ⟩. Whereas the alveolar and alveolar lateral clicks are apical, these are laminal and postalveolar; where the others are powered by tongue-root retraction, these are powered by lowering the center of the tongue (Miller 2009). They obey the back-vowel constraint common among retroflex consonants. (Neither characteristic is likely to have applied to Damin.)

Basic retroflex clicks are:

Trans. I Trans. II Description
⟨‼⟩ tenuis retroflex click
⟨‼ʰ⟩ aspirated retroflex click
⟨‼̬⟩ ⟨ᶢ‼⟩ voiced retroflex click
⟨‼̃⟩ ⟨ᵑ‼⟩ retroflex nasal click
⟨‼̥̃ʰ⟩ ⟨ᵑ̊‼ʰ⟩ aspirated retroflex nasal click
⟨‼̃ˀ⟩ ⟨ᵑ‼ˀ⟩ glottalized retroflex nasal click

Read more about Retroflex Clicks:  Features, Occurrence