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  • Journal of the International Phonetic Association, Volume 38, Issue 3
  • December 2008, pp. 235-324

Pulmonic ingressive phonation: Diachronic and synchronic characteristics, distribution and function in animal and human sound production and in human speech

  • Robert Eklund (a1)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 01 December 2008

This paper looks at the phenomenon of ingressive speech, i.e. speech produced on a pulmonic ingressive airstream, set in the context of human and animal ingressive phonation. The literature on ingressive speech and phonation spanning several centuries is reviewed, as well as contemporary reports of their incidence and characteristics from both functional and acoustic perspectives. Ingressive phonation has been used as a deliberate means of speech or sound production for hundreds of years in order to achieve specific effects, and it is still used for the same purposes, by e.g. shamans and ventriloquists. In normal spoken conversation – contrary to what is often claimed – present-day ingressive speech is not limited to Scandinavia or Nordic languages, but is found on all continents, in genetically unrelated languages. Where ingressive speech occurs, it serves more or less the same paralinguistic functions, such as a feedback marker in a dialog. Since pulmonic ingressive phonation is also common in the calls of monkeys and apes, thus exhibiting a biological basis, it is suggested that ingressive speech might constitute a neglected universal phenomenon, rather than being highly marked, which is how it is commonly described in the literature.

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