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In human speech, ingressive sounds are sounds by which the air stream flows inward through the mouth or nose. The three types of ingressive sounds are lingual ingressive or velaric ingressive (from the tongue and the velum), glottalic ingressive (from the glottis), and pulmonic ingressive (from the lungs). The opposite of an ingressive sound is an egressive sound, by which the air stream is created by pushing air out through the mouth or nose.

Types of ingressive soundsEdit

Lingual ingressiveEdit

Lingual ingressive, or velaric ingressive, describes an airstream mechanism whereby a sound is produced by closing the vocal tract at two places of articulation in the mouth, rarifying the air in the enclosed space by lowering the tongue, and then releasing both closures. The sounds made this way are called clicks.

Glottalic ingressiveEdit

This term is generally applied to the implosive consonants, which actually use a mixed glottalic ingressive–pulmonic egressive airstream. True pulmonic ingressives, called voiceless implosives or reverse ejectives, are quite rare. (See implosive consonant.)

Pulmonic ingressiveEdit

Pulmonic ingressive sounds are those ingressive sounds in which the airstream is created by the lungs. Pulmonic ingressive sounds are generally paralinguistic, and may be found as phonemes, words, and entire phrases on all continents and in genetically unrelated languages, most frequently in sounds for agreement and backchanneling.

Pulmonic ingressive sounds are extremely rare outside of paralinguistic phenomena. A pulmonic ingressive phoneme was found in the apparently constructed ritual language Damin, the last speaker of which died in the 1990s. The ǃXóõ language of Botswana has a series of nasalized click consonants in which the nasal airstream is pulmonic ingressive. Ladefoged & Maddieson (1996:268) state that "This ǃXóõ click is probably unique among the sounds of the world's languages that, even in the middle of a sentence, it may have ingressive pulmonic airflow."

Ingressive speechEdit

Ingressive speech (IS) is when sounds are articulated with the flow of air in opposition to the flow that would be experienced during normal speech. The air used to voice the speech will be drawn in rather than pushed out. Ingressive speech can be either glottal, veleric or pulmonic.


IS occurs in many languages, being frequently associated with the Scandinavian languages, despite it being a common phenomenon. The majority of words that are subject to IS are feedback words (yes, no) or very short or primal (a cry of pain, sobbing). It also sometimes occurs in rapid counting, in order to maintain a steady air flow throughout a long series of unbroken sounds. It is also very common in the animal kingdom, frogs, dogs and cats (purring).

Tsou and Damin have both been claimed to possess an ingressive phoneme, neither of these claims have been validated to date, and the Tsou claim has been nearly disproved. There are claims of some Tohono O'odham women speaking entirely ingressively.[citation needed]


Speech technologist Robert Eklund ( has found reports of ingressive speech in around 50 languages worldwide, dating as far back as Cranz's (1765) "Historie von Grönland, enthaltend… " where it is mentioned in female affirmations among the Eskimo.

Inhaled Affirmative "Yeah"Edit

Several languages include an affirmative "yeah", "yah", "yuh" or "yes" made with inhaled breath which sounds something like a gasp. This is an example of a pulmonic ingressive. This feature is found in:

  • Dialects of English spoken in the state of Maine. The word is often transcribed as "ayup" and people attempting to imitate Maine dialect rarely use the ingressive form. It is missing in most Maine-dialect TV and Hollywood productions.
  1. redirect Template:Fact

  • In Faroese entire phrases are sometimes produced ingressively, as is also the case in Icelandic.
  • In Danish, Norwegian and Swedish words like "ja" (yes), "nei" (no) etc. are often pronounced with inhaled breath, which can be confusing to foreigners. The main function of inhaled speech seems to be paralinguistic, showing e.g., agreement with a statement and to encourage a speaker to continue on.[citation needed] It is consequently also typical of dialogue.
  • In Khalkha Mongolian the words тийм Template:IPA-mn ("that/[yes]"), үгүй [ʊɡʊi] ("no"), and мэдэхгүй [mɛdɛx-ɡʊi] know.TEMPLATE:NOCAPS ("[I] don't know") are often pronounced in daily conversation with pulmonic ingressive airflow.
  • In Austronesian languages such as Tagalog [opo] and more forcefully in Waray Waray and softer in Borongan (Samar Province) [uhuh] or [ohoh] usually spelled in these countries oo and possibly stronger in Oras, Artache, Dolores(all in Samar). The sound is almost guttural and the aspirant is inhaled, not exhaled air. Thus, for an English speaker exhaling this response, the exhaled sound is not understood by native Samar speakers. The American English trouble expression of 'Uh Oh' does not remotely approximate this sound. Eastern, Western and Northern Samar have different accents in the same dialect, and should be studied further to explore this phoneme group.

Sound filesEdit

Several sound files of Swedish, Scottish English and Faroese ingressive speech can be downloaded from Robert Eklund's Ingressive Speech site: Spectrograms are also found there.


  1. Robert Eklund (2008): Pulmonic ingressive phonation: Diachronic and synchronic characteristics, distribution and function in animal and human sound production and in human speech, Journal of the International Phonetic Association, vol. 38, no. 3, pp. 235–324.

External linksEdit

{[enWP|Ingressive sound}}

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