In my native language, Georgian, there's a phoneme transcribed as /qʼ/ in IPA which is most of the time realized as some kind of a fricative or an affricate, like [χʼ] or [q͡χʼ].

Recently however, I noticed that I sometimes use an allophone which sounds pretty non-ejective to my ears, for example in the word /qʼɑlbi/ "false", and I really wonder if it's possible for ejective consonants to have non-ejective allophones.

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    Given that [ɾ] and [ʔ] are attested as allophones, or [s] and [k], I would think the answer to any "can X and Y potentially be allophones?" question would have to be "yes". Is there any reason you think it's not possible for a phoneme to have both ejective and non-ejective allophones?
    – Draconis
    Commented Jul 27, 2022 at 1:56

4 Answers 4


The pattern that you have observed in Georgian is relatively common. It's not that [q'] is non-ejective – you can hear the glottal constriction overlapping the vowel – it's that the degree of larynx raising is attenuated, so that the classical "popping" associated with ejectives is reduced. Weak ejectives exist in a number of southern Bantu languages (Chopi, Gitonga, Nguni, Soto) which are comparable to Georgian, and different from e.g. Lushootseed. As an allophonic rule, Tigrinya ejectives don't generally have the typical ejective release when pre-consonantal, but there may still be some glottal constriction audible on the preceding vowel.


Sure. In Akkadian, Geers' Law causes the first(*) of two glottalized consonants in a root to lose its glottalization. This appears to be a synchronic rather than a diachronic process, since it also affected loanwords. Therefore you could say that Akkadian /tʼ/ has a non-glottalized allophone [t], and similarly for the others.

(*) Or sometimes the second depending on which particular emphatics are involved.

  • Is it settled that Akkadian emphatics were ejective?
    – Colin Fine
    Commented Jul 27, 2022 at 9:58
  • @ColinFine good question.
    – fdb
    Commented Jul 27, 2022 at 10:13
  • I have looked again at Geers’ paper from 1945. He gives lots of examples of roots with two “emphatic” consonants in other Semitic languages of which Akkadian replaces the first by a non-emphatic, but also about as many examples where Akkadian replaces the second of the two by a non-emphatic. There is thus not a generalised or predictable loss of “emphasis” in any particular position (which would be the case with allophones) but rather an incompatibility rule governing Semitic roots with two emphatics.
    – fdb
    Commented Jul 27, 2022 at 11:15
  • @fdb I oversimplified it here for conciseness, but my understanding is there's a "hierarchy" among the emphatic consonants; if ṭ and q are in a root together, the ṭ will lose its emphasis instead of the q, regardless of their order. If the same emphatic consonant appears twice, the first one will be de-emphasized.
    – Draconis
    Commented Jul 27, 2022 at 16:21
  • @Draconis. Yes, that seems to be it. In any case, it is probably better to see this not as allophony, but as a regular sound shift.
    – fdb
    Commented Jul 27, 2022 at 17:10

According to Janet Watson, in Mehri the “emphatic” consonants are glottalized (ejective) in word-final position, but pharyngialised (as in Arabic) in non-final position.


Yes. In many British English dialects, ejectives are allophones for plosives in word-final position, usually before a following vowel which the speaker uses "hard attack" on. See Dr. Geoff Lindsey's video on the subject.

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    I assume the OP is looking for underlying ejective consonants realized pulmonically. Determining the underlying form can be controversial, but no one would classify English /t/ as prototypically ejective.
    – Nardog
    Commented Jul 27, 2022 at 14:01
  • Uh, I've never heard of ejective consonants in English. Am I missing something? Commented Jul 27, 2022 at 15:47
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    @OmarL watch the video I linked :). As I summarised they can appear as allophones of the plosives, particularly /k/; particularly in British English accents, particularly in word final positions before a following vowel on which the speaker chooses to use "hard attack" (ie a glottal stop before the vowel).
    – Muzer
    Commented Jul 27, 2022 at 16:03

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