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IPA – number 101
IPA – text p
IPA – image [[File:|{{{imagesize}}}]]
Entity p
Kirshenbaum p
Sound sample

The voiceless bilabial plosive is a type of consonantal sound used in many spoken languages. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is p, and the equivalent X-SAMPA symbol is p. The voiceless bilabial plosive in English is spelled with 'p', as in pit or speed.

[p] is missing from about 10% of languages that have a [b]. (See voiced velar plosive for another such gap.) This is an areal feature of the "circum-Saharan zone" (Africa north of the equator, including the Arabian peninsula). It is not known how old this areal feature is, and whether it might be a recent phenomenon due to Arabic as a prestige language (Arabic lost its /p/ in prehistoric times), or whether Arabic was itself affected by a more ancient areal pattern. It is found in other areas as well; for example, in Europe, Proto-Celtic and Old Basque are both reconstructed as having [b] but no [p].

Nonetheless, the [p] sound is very common cross-linguistically. Most languages have at least a plain [p], and some distinguish more than one variety. Many Indo-Aryan languages, such as Hindi, have a two-way contrast between aspirated and plain [p].



Features of the voiceless bilabial plosive:

Varieties of the voiceless bilabial plosive

IPA X-SAMPA Description
p p plain p
p_h aspirated p
p' (or p_j) palatalized p
p_w labialized p
p_} unreleased p
p_v voiced p
p_> ejective p


Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Catalan[1] parallamps [ˌpaɾəˈʎams] 'lightning conductor' See Catalan phonology
Chinese Mandarin 爆炸/bàozhà [pɑʊ˥˩ ʈʂa˥˩] 'to explode' Contrasts with aspirated form. See Standard Mandarin
Czech pes [pɛs] 'dog' See Czech phonology
Dutch[2] plicht [plɪxt] 'duty' See Dutch phonology
English pack [pʰæk] 'pack' See English phonology
French[3] pomme [pɔm] 'apple' See French phonology
German Pack [pʰak] 'pile' See German phonology
Greek πόδι [ˈpo̞ði] 'leg' See Modern Greek phonology
Hindi पल [pəl] 'moment' Contrasts with aspirated form. See Hindi-Urdu phonology
Hungarian pápa [paːpɒ] 'pope' See Hungarian phonology
Italian[4] papà [paˈpa] 'dad' See Italian phonology
Japanese[5] ポスト/posuto [posɯto] 'mailbox' See Japanese phonology
Korean 풀/pul [pʰul] 'grass'See Korean phonology
Maltese aptit [aptit'] 'appetite'
Norwegian pappa [pɑpːɑ] 'dad' See Norwegian phonology
Pashto پانير [pɑˈnir]'cheese'
Pirahã pibaóí [ˈpìbàóí̯]'otter'
Polish[6] pas [pas] 'belt' See Polish phonology
Portuguese[7] pai [paɪ̯] 'father' See Portuguese phonology
Romanian pas [pas] 'step' See Romanian phonology
Russian[8] плод [plot] 'fruit' Contrasts with palatalized form. See Russian phonology
Slovak pes [pɛs] 'dog'
Spanish[9] peso [ˈpe̞so̞] 'weight' See Spanish phonology
Swedish apa [ˈɑːpʰa] 'ape' See Swedish phonology
Tsez пу [pʰu] 'side' Contrasts with ejective form.
Turkish kap [käp] 'pot' See Turkish phonology
Zapotec Tilquiapan[10] pan [paŋ] 'bread'

See also

  • List of phonetics topics



  • Carbonell, Joan F. & Joaquim Llisterri (1992), "Catalan", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 22 (1-2): 53-56
  • Cruz-Ferreira, Madalena (1995), "European Portuguese", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 25 (2): 90-94
  • Fougeron, Cecile & Caroline L Smith (1993), "Illustrations of the IPA:French", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 23 (2): 73-76
  • Gussenhoven, Carlos (1992), "Dutch", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 22 (2): 45-47
  • Jassem, Wiktor (2003), "Polish", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 33 (1): 103-107
  • Martínez-Celdrán, Eugenio; Ana Ma. Fernández-Planas & Josefina Carrera-Sabaté (2003), "Castilian Spanish", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 33 (2): 255-259
  • Merrill, Elizabeth (2008), "Tilquipan Zapotec", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 38 (1): 107-114 
  • Okada, Hideo (1991), "Phonetic Representation:Japanese", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 21 (2): 94-97
  • Padgett, Jaye (2003), "Contrast and Post-Velar Fronting in Russian", Natural Language & Linguistic Theory 21 (1): 39-87
  • Rogers, Derek & Luciana d'Arcangeli (2004), "Italian", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 34 (1): 117-121



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