While answering @Qiangong2's question here: Are Characters customized in different provinces due to dialectal differences? I was looking through the table on 四川方言字.

On the table the following initial keeps showing up:


For instance here is one single entry:

𨈓 | nang¹ | dⁿaŋ˥ | 形 | 瘦小、弱小

The entry for this word in《成都话方言词典》is notated as:

𨈓 [Ĩaŋ⁵⁵] 身体瘦小

《现代汉语方言音库 • 成都话音档》writes it as:

𨈓 naŋ⁵⁵ 瘦小

I've seen both /n/ and /Ĩ/ as an initial, I have a preference of the two, but I have never come across /dⁿ/. I'm guessing that a simplified writing of /dⁿ/ would be: d‘, but how d‘ sounds anything like /n/ or /Ĩ/ is beyond me.


1 Answer 1


It's the IPA diacritic for the nasal release from a stopped consonant:

Quoting right from that Wikipedia page:

That is, the /d/ is released directly into the /n/: [ˈsʌdⁿn̩].

Where [ˈsʌdⁿn̩] is the IPA transcription of the English word "sudden", where the blocked air flow from the articulation of /d/ is released through the nose (you should feel it vibrating in your pharynx).

For those who don't have the font installed, I believe the character in the OP is:

enter image description here

  • /dⁿ/ doesn't seem to be close to n or l though, no?
    – Mou某
    Commented Aug 19, 2020 at 22:18
  • 1
    @Mo. there are similarities, right? After all /d/, /n/ and /l/ are all dental consonants. And actually to articulate /dⁿ/ from /d/ you (roughly) just have to route the air flow through the nose after releasing the obstruction (tongue, teeth and lips don't move), and to change /dⁿ/ to /n/ you (roughly) don't obstruct the air flow (tongue, teeth and lips again don't move). Kinda close, but your mileage may vary
    – blackgreen
    Commented Aug 19, 2020 at 22:27
  • Less similarities with /l/ (el) as that is a lateral.
    – blackgreen
    Commented Aug 19, 2020 at 22:30
  • Well I believe it is /Ĩ/ with a tilde, sorry I got lazy in my comments there.
    – Mou某
    Commented Aug 19, 2020 at 22:48
  • @Mo. based on my experience with phonology and linguistics, I think the relation with the laterals (nasalized or not) is less marked. I think of /Ĩ/ (el with tilde) as the phoneme south-westerners use when they speak Mandarin with an accent and replace /l/ with a nasal sound -> e.g. 物流 (logistics) "wu-liu" -> "wu-niu" where the n is actually /Ĩ/. So that one to me is quite unlike /dⁿ/
    – blackgreen
    Commented Aug 20, 2020 at 8:32

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