Phonetic symbols for consonants
(as commonly used for languages of Mexico)

Click on any of the phonetic symbols to hear the consonant sound it represents between two a vowels, e.g. apa. (The sound files average about 40 Kb in size and may take a few seconds to download.) Click on the technical terms to read a definition. See further notes below.

definition: bilabial definition: labiodental definition: interdental definition: alveolar definition: palato-alveolar definition: velar definition: glottal definition: stop definition: affricate definition: fricative definition: nasal definition: liquid definition: semivowel definition: voiceless definition: voiced consonant: p consonant: b consonant: t consonant: d consonant: k consonant: g consonant: glottal stop consonant: p-phi consonant: b-beta consonant: pf consonant: bv consonant: t-theta consonant: d-eth consonant: slashed-c (ts) consonant: dz consonant: c-wedge consonant: j-wedge consonant: kx consonant: g-gamma consonant: phi consonant: beta consonant: f consonant: v consonant: theta consonant: eth consonant: s consonant: z consonant: barred-l consonant: s-wedge consonant: z-wedge consonant: x consonant: gamma consonant: h consonant: upper case m consonant: m consonant: upper case n consonant: n consonant: upper case enye consonant: enye consonant: upper case eng consonant: eng consonant: l consonant: flapped r consonant: upper case w consonant: w consonant: upper case y consonant: y
Consonant chart

Symbols for other points of articulation

dental use a subscript arch with symbols for alveolars
retroflex use a subscript dot with symbols for alveolars or palato-alveolar fricatives
palatal use a subscript arch with symbols for velars
uvular use a subscript dot with symbols for velars


Consonants are classified primarily according to place of articulation, manner of articulation, and voicing. (See the diagram of places of articulation.)

The consonant symbols presented here are primarily those used by linguists in the Americas (rather than those of the International Phonetic Alphabet), partly because this is the dominant practice for describing languages of Mexico, and partly because the Americanist symbols are easier to represent in web pages. (For this reason, too, an ordinary r is often used for a flapped r in place of the r-wedge listed above, when it is the only r-like sound in a language.) These are also the symbols normally used for phonetic transcription on other pages on the SIL-Mexico website, although some authors prefer to use the IPA or even a mixture of symbols from the two systems.

Most of the materials published in indigenous languages of Mexico are not published in phonetic transcription but in a practical orthography, which, besides reflecting the sound system of the language, must also take into account the practical requirements of typewriters, the preferences of native speakers, and other factors. (For further information, see How the Summer Institute of Linguistics has developed orthographies for indigenous languages of Mexico.) The consonant symbols in practical orthographies in Mexico are usually selected from the Spanish alphabet whenever possible. Glottal stop is usually represented by an enlarged straight apostrophe () called in Spanish a saltillo. Underlining may be used to represent various modifications to basic consonants (especially length). Occasionally other symbols are used, including some of the above.

See also:

(Part of the Electronic glossary of linguistic terms
by J. Albert Bickford and David Tuggy)