Voiced glottal fricative

Voiced glottal fricative
IPA number 147
Entity (decimal) ɦ
Unicode (hex) U+0266
Kirshenbaum h<?>
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The breathy-voiced glottal transition, commonly called a voiced glottal fricative, 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.

Lamé contrasts voiceless and voiced glottal fricatives.[3]


Features of the voiced glottal fricative:

  • Its phonation type is breathy voiced, or murmured, which means the vocal cords are loosely vibrating, with more air escaping than in a modally voiced sound.
  • 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.


BasqueNortheastern dialects[4]hemen [ɦemen]'here'Can be voiceless [h] instead.
Czechhora[ˈɦora]'mountain'See Czech phonology
Danish[3]Mon det har regnet?[- d̥e̝ ɦɑ̈ -]'I wonder if it has rained.'Common allophone of /h/ between vowels.[3] See Danish phonology
Dutch[5]haat[ɦaːt]'hate'See Dutch phonology
EnglishAustralian[6]behind[bəˈɦɑe̯nd]'behind'Allophone of /h/ between voiced sounds.[6][7] See Australian English phonology and English phonology
Received Pronunciation[7][bɪˈɦaɪ̯nd]
Broad South Africanhand[ˈɦɛn̪t̪]'hand'Some speakers, only before a stressed vowel.
Finnishraha[rɑɦɑ]'money'Allophone of /h/ between voiced sounds. See Finnish phonology
Hebrewמַהֵר [mäɦe̞r] 'fast'See Modern Hebrew phonology
Hindustaniहूँ / ہوں[ɦu᷉]'am'See Hindustani phonology
Korean여행 / yeohaeng[jʌɦεŋ]'travel'Occurs as an allophone of /h/ between voiced sounds. See Korean phonology
LimburgishSome dialects[9][10]hart [ɦɑ̽ʀ̝t]'heart'Voiceless [h] in other dialects. The example word is from the Maastrichtian dialect.
Lithuanianhumoras [ˈɦʊmɔrɐs̪]'humour'Often pronounced instead of [ɣ]. See Lithuanian phonology
PolishPodhale dialecthydrant[ˈɦɘ̟d̪rän̪t̪]'fire hydrant'Contrasts with /x/. Standard Polish possesses only /x/. See Polish phonology
Kresy dialect
PortugueseMany Brazilian dialectsesse 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 speakershashi[ɦɐˈʃi]'chopsticks'
Some Brazilian[11][12] dialectsmesmo[ˈmeɦmu]'same'Corresponds to either /s/ or /ʃ/ (depending on dialect) in the syllable coda. Might also be deleted.
Cearense dialect[13]gente[ˈɦẽ.t͡ʃi]'people'In cearense dialect, there is debuccalization of phonemes [ʒ], [v] and [z] to [ɦ].
RomanianTransylvanian dialects[14]haină[ˈɦainə]'coat'Corresponds to [h] in standard Romanian. See Romanian phonology
Slovakhora  [ˈɦɔ̝rä] 'mountain'
SloveneLittoral dialectshora [ˈɦɔra]'mountain'This is a general feature of all Slovene dialects west of the Škofja LokaPlanina line. Corresponds to [ɡ] in other dialects.
Rovte dialects
Sylhetiꠢꠥꠐꠇꠤ[ɦuʈki]'dried fish'
Ukrainianголос[ˈɦɔlɔs]'voice'Also described as [ʕ]. See Ukrainian phonology

See also



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