Both nasal and stops interrupt the airflow in mouth. Affricates do this as well, but release the airflow turbulently. The trills too, but the interruptions are created and released intermittently. The flaps and even laterals can also be regarded as they interrupt the airflow.

Is there a formal term for such a class of phonemes that interrupt the mouth airflow? Either by interrupting completely, or by interrupting one airflow but creating another via nose, or by switching interruption and releasing continuously, etc.

I know that the term "occlusive" (or even "stop"), when used with the adjectives "oral" and "nasal" is an umbrella term for either nasal consonants and the mainstream oral stop consonants. But I don't know any term which spans further.

I'd also read here the name "intermittent stops" for trills, but I don't know whether this term is widely recognized or not. Is it? And may "stop" thus refer to the wide class of phonemes which I am looking for?

Such umbrella term would be suitable in studying Proto-Oceanic, which had pairs of voiceless and prenasalized-voiced stops /p, ᵐb/, /t, ⁿd/, etc... (written "p, b", "t, d", etc.) plus the trill pair /r, ⁿr/ (written "r, dr"), which can be seen as a occlusive-like, since it was derived from Proto-Austronesian's pair of stops /*d, *nd/. If including flaps, this umbrella could be even used to refer to the English "allophone continuum" of /t, d/, which, in some contexts, is flapped (for example "matter", "butter", etc.).

1 Answer 1


If you were asking about a distinctive feature analysis, those classes can be unified as the [-continuant] segments, although the analysis of trills is not entirely established (the issue is whether a separate feature [trill] is necessary: let's say that it is). You can then call them the "non-continuants", as long as it's understood that you're referring to an SPE-style analysis of features. There is otherwise no term that puts stops and trills together. The term "occlusive" almost fills the bill, except that trills are not typically included under that umbrella.

  • Wait, it was you who said it, hehe. I've read "intermittent stop" from an answer of yours here. Did you coined this term, or is it used by others?
    – Seninha
    Sep 27, 2017 at 21:14

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