Voiced glottal fricative

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Voiced glottal fricative
IPA Number147
Audio sample
Entity (decimal)ɦ
Unicode (hex)U+0266
Braille⠦ (braille pattern dots-236)⠓ (braille pattern dots-125)

The voiced glottal fricative, sometimes called breathy-voiced glottal transition, is a type of sound used in some spoken languages which patterns like a fricative or approximant consonant phonologically, but often lacks the usual phonetic characteristics of a consonant. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is ɦ, and the equivalent X-SAMPA symbol is h\.

In many languages, [ɦ] has no place or manner of articulation. Thus, it has been described as a breathy-voiced counterpart of the following vowel from a phonetic point of view. However, its characteristics are also influenced by the preceding vowels and whatever other sounds surround it. Therefore, it can be described as a segment whose only consistent feature is its breathy voice phonation in such languages.[1] It may have real glottal constriction in a number of languages (such as Finnish[2]), making it a fricative.

The Shanghainese language contrasts the voiced and voiceless glottal fricatives.[3]


Features of the voiced glottal fricative:

  • Its phonation is breathy voiced, or murmured, which means the vocal cords are loosely vibrating, with more air escaping than in a modally voiced sound. It is sometimes referred to as a "voiced h". Strictly speaking this is incorrect, as there is no voicing.[4]
  • In some languages, it has the constricted manner of articulation of a fricative. However, in many if not most it is a transitional state of the glottis with no manner of articulation other than its phonation type. Because there is no other constriction to produce friction in the vocal tract, most phoneticians no longer consider [ɦ] to be a fricative. True fricatives may have a murmured phonation in addition to producing friction elsewhere. However, the term "fricative" is generally retained for the historical reasons.
  • It may have a glottal place of articulation. However, it may have no fricative articulation, making the term glottal mean that it is articulated by the vocal folds, but this is the nature of its phonation rather than a separate articulation. All consonants except for the glottals, and all vowels, have an individual place of articulation in addition to the state of the glottis. As with all other consonants, surrounding vowels influence the pronunciation [ɦ], and accordingly [ɦ] has only the place of articulation of these surrounding vowels.
  • It is an oral consonant, which means air is allowed to escape through the mouth only.
  • Because the sound is not produced with airflow over the tongue, the centrallateral dichotomy does not apply.
  • The airstream mechanism is pulmonic, which means it is articulated by pushing air solely with the intercostal muscles and abdominal muscles, as in most sounds.


Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Afrikaans Standard hoekom [ɦu.kɔm] 'why'
Azeri Standard hkəm [mœːɦcæm] 'solid'
Albanian Northern Tosk[5] dhe menjëherë udhëtari [ðɛ miɲɜˈɦɛɹoθˈtaɽ̞i] 'and immediately the traveller' Occasional allophone of /h/ in connected speech.
Basque Northeastern dialects[6] hemen [ɦemen] 'here' Can be voiceless [h] instead.
Chinese Wu 閒話/ghe gho [ɦɛɦʊ] 'language'
Czech hlava [ˈɦlava] 'head' See Czech phonology
Danish[7] Mon det har regnet? [- te̝ ɦɑ -] 'I wonder if it has rained.' Common allophone of /h/ between vowels.[7] See Danish phonology
Dutch[8] haat [ɦaːt] 'hate' See Dutch phonology
English Australian[9] behind [bəˈɦɑe̯nd] 'behind' Allophone of /h/ between voiced sounds.[9][10] See Australian English phonology and English phonology
Received Pronunciation[10] [bɪˈɦaɪ̯nd]
Broad South African hand [ˈɦɛn̪t̪] 'hand' Some speakers, only before a stressed vowel.
Estonian raha [ˈrɑɦɑ] 'money' Allophone of /h/ between voiced sounds. See Estonian phonology and Finnish phonology
French Quebec[11] manger [mãɦe] 'to eat' Limited to a minority of speakers. Can also be realized as a voiceless [h].
Hebrew מַהֵר [mäɦe̞ʁ] 'fast' Occurs as an allophone of /h/ between voiced sounds. See Modern Hebrew phonology
Hindustani हूँ / ہوں [ɦũː] 'am' See Hindustani phonology
Hungarian Some speakers tehát [tɛɦaːt] 'so' Intervocalic allophone of /h/. Occurs as voiceless /h/ for other speakers. See Hungarian phonology
Japanese Some speakers 少しして/sukoshi hanashite[12] [sɯkoʃi ɦɑnɑʃite] 'speak a little bit'
Indonesian Some speakers bahan [baˈɦan] 'ingredients'
Kalabari[13] hóín [ɦóĩ́] 'introduction'
Korean 여행 / yeohaeng [jʌɦεŋ] 'travel' Occurs as an allophone of /h/ between voiced sounds. See Korean phonology
Limburgish[14][15] hart [ɦɑ̽ʀ̝t] 'heart' The example word is from the Maastrichtian dialect. See Maastrichtian dialect phonology
Lithuanian humoras [ˈɦʊmɔrɐs̪] 'humour' Often pronounced instead of [ɣ]. See Lithuanian phonology
Marathi हा [ɦaːɾ] 'garland'
Odia /haḷa [ɦɔɭɔ] 'plough'
Nepali हल [ɦʌl] 'solution' See Nepali phonology
Polish Podhale dialect hydrant [ˈɦɘ̟d̪rän̪t̪] 'fire hydrant' Contrasts with /x/. Standard Polish possesses only /x/. See Polish phonology
Kresy dialect
Portuguese Many Brazilian dialects esse rapaz [ˈesi ɦaˈpajs] 'this youth' (m.) Allophone of /ʁ/. [h, ɦ] are marginal sounds to many speakers, particularly out of Brazil. See Portuguese phonology and guttural R
Many speakers hashi [ɦɐˈʃi] 'chopsticks'
Some Brazilian[16][17] dialects mesmo [ˈmeɦmu] 'same' Corresponds to either /s/ or /ʃ/ (depending on dialect) in the syllable coda. Might also be deleted.
Cearense dialect[18] gente [ˈɦẽnt͡ʃi] 'people' Debuccalized from [ʒ], [v] or [z].
Mineiro dialect dormir [doɦˈmi(h)] 'to sleep' Before other voiced consonants, otherwise realized as [h].
Punjabi ਹਵਾ / ہوا [ɦə̀ʋä̌ː] 'air'
Riffian Berber hwa [ɦwæ] 'to go down'
Romanian Transylvanian dialects[19] haină [ˈɦajnə] 'coat' Corresponds to [h] in standard Romanian. See Romanian phonology
Silesian hangrys [ˈɦaŋɡrɨs] 'gooseberry'
Slovak hora [ˈɦɔ̝rä] 'mountain' See Slovak phonology
Slovene Littoral dialects hora [ˈɦɔra] 'mountain' This is a general feature of all Slovene dialects west of the Škofja LokaPlanina line. Corresponds to [ɡ] in other dialects. See Slovene phonology
Rovte dialects
Rosen Valley dialect
Sylheti ꠢꠥꠐꠇꠤ [ɦuʈki] 'dried fish'
Telugu హల్లు [ɦəlːu] 'Consonant'
Ukrainian голос [ˈɦɔlos] 'voice' Also described as pharyngeal [ʕ][citation needed]. See Ukrainian phonology
Zulu ihhashi [iːˈɦaːʃi] 'horse'

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ladefoged & Maddieson (1996:325–326)
  2. ^ Laufer (1991:91)
  3. ^ Qian 2003, pp.14-16.
  4. ^ Ladefoged, Peter; Keith, Johnson (2011). A course in phonetics (Sixth ed.). Boston, MA: Wadsworth Publishing. p. 149. ISBN 9781428231269. OCLC 613523782.
  5. ^ Coretta, Stefano; Riverin-Coutlée, Josiane; Kapia, Enkeleida; Nichols, Stephen (n.d.). "Northern Tosk Albanian". Journal of the International Phonetic Association: 1–23. doi:10.1017/S0025100322000044. hdl:20.500.11820/ebce2ea3-f955-4fa5-9178-e1626fbae15f. ISSN 0025-1003.
  6. ^ Hualde & Ortiz de Urbina (2003:24)
  7. ^ a b Grønnum (2005:125)
  8. ^ Gussenhoven (1992:45)
  9. ^ a b Cox & Fletcher (2017:159)
  10. ^ a b Roach (2004:241)
  11. ^ April (2007)
  12. ^ Arai, Warner & Greenberg (2007), p. 47.
  13. ^ Harry (2003:113)
  14. ^ Gussenhoven & Aarts (1999:155)
  15. ^ Verhoeven (2007:219)
  16. ^ (in Portuguese) Pará Federal University – The pronunciation of /s/ and its variations across Bragança municipality's Portuguese
  17. ^ (in Portuguese) Rio de Janeiro Federal University – The variation of post-vocallic /S/ in the speech of Petrópolis, Itaperuna and Paraty
  18. ^ "A NEUTRALIZAÇÃO DOS FONEMAS / v – z - Z / NO FALAR DE FORTALEZA" (PDF). profala.ufc.br. Retrieved 23 April 2012.
  19. ^ Pop (1938), p. 30.


External links[edit]