I was thinking about what sounds we make when we breathe through our nose. I realized that we make a sound that is very far back, farther than the velar nasal. Do we normally make this sound, and is this the most common phoneme because it happens when we breathe?

  • 2
    It's not a phoneme if it's not used in speech. We make lots of noises that aren't phonemes.
    – jlawler
    Oct 2 '20 at 15:51
  • But anyhow do we make voiceless uvular nasals when we breathe out through our nose? Oct 2 '20 at 19:58
  • Only if we involve the uvula. Since it's usually closed with the velic flap during nasal breathing, it wouldn't be a uvular nasal. That would require an open mouth to provide a resonant chamber for the uvular nasal.
    – jlawler
    Oct 2 '20 at 20:20

"Unvoiced uvular nasal" refers to a particular kind of language sound, just as "unvoiced bilabial fricative" (=[φ]) does. The physical action of articulating [φ] is similar to how you blow out a candle, but when you blow out a candle, you don't produce [φ] (for one, you don't blow when you speak, but youu do for a candle-blowing-action). Likewise, breathing through your nose is not the same as producing [N̥], but it is similar in terms of the physical state of the vocal tract. However, [N̥] has additional back-of-the-mouth constrictions of the pharynx and tongue that are not part of nose-breathing.

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