How can we concisely describe a consonant that is non-velarized, non-palatalized, non-glottalized, ....?

Is there an adjective for "no secondary articulation"?

2 Answers 2


The most common word I've heard is "plain"—for example, the reconstructed phonemes *, *, and *k in Proto-Indo-European can be called "palatovelar", "labiovelar", and "plain velar". But this is mainly used when it's important to make the distinction clear; often, just "velar" on its own is enough.

The Latin word "tenuis" (literally "thin") is sometimes used as a synonym for "plain" or "not otherwise marked" in phonology, but I would put a caveat on that one. It's generally used for manner of articulation, not place, so people will generally associate "tenuis velar stop" with "/k/ as opposed to /g/ or /kʰ/", not "/k/ as opposed to /kˤ/ or /kʷ/". But for certain types of secondary articulation (palatalization in Russian, perhaps) it might be a fitting term.


In Russian we talk about hard and soft consonants, as non-palatalized and palatalized respectively. These are not universal scientific terms, of course, but rather established ones in the context of this language.

  • 2
    But neither is without secondary articulation – the opposition is between palatalized and velarized.
    – user6726
    Mar 8, 2020 at 22:55

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.