I’m working with a language which differentiates between aspirated and ejective stops. Is there a linguistic convention that I can use in writing descriptive rules for processes which both aspirated and ejective segments undergo?

I mean just as that little circle under a “C” indicates a voiceless stop, is there a similar convention for ejectives/aspirates?

2 Answers 2


The bad news is, I don't know of any convention for this, and have never seen such a symbol used in the literature.

The good news is, phoneme names are arbitrary, and archiphoneme/cover symbol names even more so.

So in your position, I would come up with a new notation, and explain it clearly in the text before using it. Since aspirated and ejective stops are both written with a mark above and to the right (the superscript h for aspirated and apostrophe for ejective), perhaps as their cover?

Alternately, if you only need this notation once or twice, you can use a disjunction, (Cʰ | Cʼ). This would require less explanation beforehand, but would also be harder to read if it came up over and over again.

  • I use it a lot actually so maybe I’ll just invent my own symbol as you suggest. This degree symbol is pretty good! I don’t think it would be confusing either since I’ve never seen it before (reversed degrees Celsius haha)
    – Teusz
    Jul 22, 2019 at 17:40

The standard diacritic for aspiration is [ʰ], thus [pʰ], and the standard diacritic for ejectives is [’], e.g. [p’]. FYI, the lowered circle is not generally used represent voicelessness and [t̥] is a conceptual anomaly, but you may encounter [b̥ d̥] vs. [p t] if in the former case /b d/ become mostly devoiced in a context though not neutralized with /p t/.

In writing rules referring to classes of segments, it is conventional to use the feature that the segments have in common. If you don't want to follow that convention and have to use transcriptional symbols rather than features but you still want to capture the class "aspirated or ejective" with one letter (rather than listing each segment in a disjunction), you could write "C̥" and probably be understood, as long as you don't mean "aspirated or ejective, but not plain voiceless". If that is the intent, you have no alternative but to use an expression like "aspirated or ejective".

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