Voiceless labial–velar fricative

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Voiceless labial–velar fricative
IPA Number169
Audio sample
Entity (decimal)ʍ
Unicode (hex)U+028D
Braille⠖ (braille pattern dots-235)⠺ (braille pattern dots-2456)

The voiceless labial–velar fricative is a type of consonantal sound, used in spoken languages. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is ʍ.

Some linguists posit voiceless approximants distinct from voiceless fricatives. To them, English /ʍ/ is an approximant [w̥], a labialized glottal fricative [hʷ], or an [hw] sequence, not a velar fricative.[1] Scots /ʍ/ has been described as a velar fricative,[2] especially in older Scots, where it was [xw].[3] Other linguists believe that a "voiceless approximant" is a contradiction in terms, and so [w̥] must be the same as [xʷ]. Ladefoged and Maddieson were unable to confirm that any language has fricatives produced at two places of articulation, like labial and velar.[4] They conclude that "if it is a fricative, it is better described as a voiceless labialized velar fricative".[5]


Features of the voiceless labial–velar fricative:


Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Aleut[6] Atkan hwax̂ [ʍaχ] 'smoke'
Bering ʼЎ [ʍaχ] 'smoke'
English Conservative Received Pronunciation[7] whine [ʍaɪ̯n] 'whine' English /ʍ/ is generally an approximant or an [hw] sequence, not a velar fricative.[1][contradictory] In General American[8] and New Zealand English[9] only some speakers maintain a distinction with /w/; in Europe, mostly heard in Irish and Scottish accents.[7] See English phonology and phonological history of wh.
Cultivated South African[10]
Conservative General American[8]
Irish[10][11] [ʍʌɪ̯n]
Southern American[14] [ʍäːn]
New Zealand[9][12][15] [ʍɑe̯n]
Hupa[16] wha [hʷa] 'sun' Non-velar like English wh.
xwe꞉y [xʷeːj] 'his property' A voiceless labialized velar fricative.
Kham Gamale Kham ह्वा [ʍɐ] 'tooth' Described as an approximant.[17]
Scots older pronunciation whine [xwaɪ̯n][3] 'whine' A semivowel in standard modern Scots. Northern dialects have [f] instead.
Slovene[18][19] vse [ˈʍsɛ] 'everything' Allophone of /ʋ/ in the syllable onset before voiceless consonants, in free variation with a vowel [u]. Voiced [w] before voiced consonants.[18][19] See Slovene phonology.
Washo Wáʔi [ˈxʷaʔi] or [ˈw̥aʔi] 'he's the one who's doing it' Variously described as a labialized velar fricative or a voiceless approximant.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Ladefoged (2006), p. 68.
  2. ^ International Phonetic Association (1999), p. 22.
  3. ^ a b Johnston (1997), pp. 499, 510.
  4. ^ Ladefoged & Maddieson (1996), pp. 330–2.
  5. ^ Ladefoged & Maddieson (1996), p. 326.
  6. ^ Головко, Е. В. (1994). Словарь алеутско-русский и русско-алеутский (беринговский диалект) [Aleut-Russian and Russian-Aleut Dictionary (Bering dialect)]. p. 14. ISBN 978-5-09-002312-2.
  7. ^ a b "Received Pronunciation Phonology".
  8. ^ a b Rogers (2000), p. 120.
  9. ^ a b Rogers (2000), p. 117.
  10. ^ a b c Lass (2002), p. 121.
  11. ^ Wells (1982), p. 432.
  12. ^ a b McMahon (2002), p. 31.
  13. ^ Wells (1982), p. 408.
  14. ^ Labov, Ash & Boberg (2006).
  15. ^ Wells (1982), p. 610.
  16. ^ Golla, Victor (1996). "Hupa Language Dictionary Second Edition". Retrieved Oct 31, 2021.
  17. ^ Wilde (2016).
  18. ^ a b Šuštaršič, Komar & Petek (1999), p. 136.
  19. ^ a b Greenberg (2006), p. 18.


External links[edit]