The voiceless velar lateral affricate is an uncommon speech sound found as a phoneme in the Caucasus and as an allophone in several languages of eastern and southern Africa.
Archi, a Northeast Caucasian language of Dagestan, has two such affricates, plain [k?] and labialized [k], though they are further forward than velars in most languages, and might better be called prevelar. Archi also has ejective variants of its lateral affricates, several voiceless lateral fricatives, and a voiced lateral fricative at the same place of articulation, but no alveolar lateral fricatives or affricates.
Zulu and Xhosa have a voiceless lateral affricate as an allophone of their voiceless velar affricate. Hadza has an ejective velar lateral affricate as an allophone of its velar ejective affricate. Indeed, in Hadza this [k?'] contrasts with a palatal lateral ejective affricate, [c?']. ?Xegwi is reported to have contrasted velar /k?/ from alveolar /t/.
Laghuu, a Loloish language of Vietnam, contrasts four velar lateral affricates, /k, k?, ?, /.
In pure IPA, these can be transcribed with diacritics, but a proper letter exists in extIPA, ⟨k?⟩. (SIL International has added this symbol, ⟨?⟩, to the Private Use Areas of their Gentium, Charis and Doulos fonts, at U+F268.)
Features of the voiceless velar lateral affricate:
- Its manner of articulation is affricate, which means it is produced by first stopping the airflow entirely, then allowing air flow through a constricted channel at the place of articulation, causing turbulence.
- Its place of articulation is velar, which means it is articulated with the back of the tongue (the dorsum) at the soft palate.
- Its phonation is voiceless, which means it is produced without vibrations of the vocal cords. In some languages the vocal cords are actively separated, so it is always voiceless; in others the cords are lax, so that it may take on the voicing of adjacent sounds.
- It is an oral consonant, which means air is allowed to escape through the mouth only.
- It is a lateral consonant, which means it is produced by directing the airstream over the sides of the tongue, rather than down the middle.
- The airstream mechanism is pulmonic, which means it is articulated by pushing air solely with the lungs and diaphragm, as in most sounds.