Many people can distinguish whether a person is inhaling or exhaling only by audio, even when the tongue and the lip position (=formants) is the same. That must mean there is a difference in the acoustics of it. I wonder what differences are there between the sound of inhaling and that of exhaling.

  • I believe that certain African languages have an initial inhaled m or n. Am I right?
    – B. Scholl
    Dec 30, 2015 at 13:36
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    Nope. No language uses ingressive lung air as a linguistic property; however, words in Norwegian can be inhaled for a certain pragmatic effect that I don't understand (disagreement or something like that).
    – user6726
    Dec 30, 2015 at 16:14
  • I think you mean implosives maybe? Anyway, this can't be an answer by this site's standards, unfortunately. Dec 30, 2015 at 20:56
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    The ingression is accomplished by oral rarification via jaw lowering, not inhaling.
    – user6726
    Feb 27, 2016 at 16:58

1 Answer 1


Any elastic parts of the vocal apparatus that are not symmetrically perpendicular to the airflow will vibrate differently when they point upstream than when they point downstream.

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