I strongly feel that “Labialised” consonants aren’t really labialised, and perhaps “rounded” consonants would be a more suitable term, given that you can have a “labialised labial plosive”, which makes no sense, how do you labialise an already labial consonant? Unless I’m mistaken, you can’t have a “palatalised palatal plosive”. Plus, the term “labialised” doesn’t tell you that you round your lips when saying it, which is the whole difference. So why isn‘t it called “roundedness”?

1 Answer 1


The tradition of naming phonetic properties has favored using anatomically-based terminology, so if you read linguistic works of the 19th century you will find exclusive use of words like "labialized", "palatalized", "gutturalized": emphasizing the thing that creates the result, and not what the result looks like. I don't know what shape-related word would apply to other articulations. The tern "rounded" is used in some circles, especially in phonology, because we are now more aware that rounding is just one variety of labialization. If you are referring to name of the diacritic ʷ in IPA (note that vowels are deemed to be "rounded"), extant terminology is kept as is until they vote to change it.

  • "because we are now more aware that rounding is just one variety of labialization" - very interesting! Could you add more details?
    – Alex B.
    Commented Jul 29, 2021 at 14:56
  • I see, what other barieties of labialisation exist? Commented Jul 29, 2021 at 15:46
  • 1
    The most common is non-protruding labial closure as a secondary articulation, usually spelled "kp" etc.
    – user6726
    Commented Jul 29, 2021 at 16:59
  • 1
    @AlexB. Also consider the (phonemic) difference between compressed and protruded round vowels found in Swedish and Norwegian. Commented Jul 29, 2021 at 21:44

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.