Bilabial Consonant
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Bilabial Consonant

In phonetics, a bilabial consonant is a labial consonant articulated with both lips.


The bilabial consonants identified by the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) are:

IPA Description Example
Language Orthography IPA Meaning
Xsampa-m.png bilabial nasal English man [mæn]
Xsampa-p.png voiceless bilabial plosive English spin [sp?n]
Xsampa-b.png voiced bilabial plosive English bed [b?d]
Xsampa-pslash.png voiceless bilabial fricative Japanese (fujisan) [?u?isa?] Mount Fuji
Xsampa-B2.png voiced bilabial fricative Ewe ??? [?] Ewe
IPA-voiced bilabial approximant.png bilabial approximant Spanish lobo [loo] wolf
Xsampa-Bslash.png bilabial trill Nias simbi [si?i] lower jaw
IPA bilabial ejective.svg bilabial ejective Adyghe ? [p'a] meat

bilabial click release (many distinct consonants) N?ng ?oe [koe] meat

Owere Igbo has a six-way contrast among bilabial stops: [p p? b b? ?].[] Approximately 0.7% of the world's languages lack bilabial consonants altogether, including Tlingit, Chipewyan, Oneida, and Wichita.[1]

The extensions to the IPA also define a bilabial percussive ([?]) for striking the lips together (smacking the lips - see percussive consonant). A lip-smack in the non-percussive sense of the lips noisily parting would be [].[2]

The IPA chart shades out bilabial lateral consonants, which is sometimes read as indicating that such sounds are not possible. The fricatives [?] and [?] are often lateral, but since no language makes a distinction for centrality, the allophony is not noticeable.

See also



  1. ^ Maddieson, Ian. 2008. Absence of Common Consonants. In: Haspelmath, Martin & Dryer, Matthew S. & Gil, David & Comrie, Bernard (eds.) The World Atlas of Language Structures Online. Munich: Max Planck Digital Library, chapter 18. Available online at Archived 2009-06-01 at the Wayback Machine. Accessed on 2008-09-15.
  2. ^ Heselwood (2013: 121)[citation not found]


General references
  • Ladefoged, Peter; Maddieson, Ian (1996). The Sounds of the World's Languages. Oxford: Blackwell. ISBN 978-0-631-19815-4.
  • McDorman, Richard E. (1999). Labial Instability in Sound Change: Explanations for the Loss of /p/'l. H'. Chicago: Organizational Knowledge Press. ISBN 0-9672537-0-5.

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