Voiceless uvular fricative

Voiceless uvular fricative
IPA number 142
Entity (decimal) χ
Unicode (hex) U+03C7
Kirshenbaum X
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The voiceless uvular fricative is a type of consonantal sound used in some spoken languages. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is χ, the Greek chi, or, in broad transcription, x, the Latin and English letter x, although the latter technically represents the voiceless velar fricative. The sound is represented by (ex with underdot) in Americanist phonetic notation.

For a voiceless pre-uvular fricative (also called post-velar), see voiceless velar fricative.


Features of the voiceless uvular fricative:

  • Its phonation is voiceless, which means it is produced without vibrations of the vocal cords. In some languages the vocal cords are actively separated, so it is always voiceless; in others the cords are lax, so that it may take on the voicing of adjacent sounds.
  • It is an oral consonant, which means air is allowed to escape through the mouth only.
  • It is a central consonant, which means it is produced by directing the airstream along the center of the tongue, rather than to the sides.


Ladefoged & Maddieson (1996) note that there is "a complication in the case of uvular fricatives in that the shape of the vocal tract may be such that the uvula vibrates."[1] See voiceless uvular raised non-sonorant trill for more information.

Abkhazхҧа[χpʰa]'three'Contrasts with labialized and palatalized forms. See Abkhaz phonology
Adygheпхъашэ [pχaːʃa] 'rough'
Afrikaans[2][3]goed[χut]'good'May be a voiceless trill [ʀ̥] when word-initial. Some speakers realize it as velar [x].[2] See Afrikaans phonology
AleutAtkan dialecthati[hɑtiχ]'ten'
ArabicModern Standard[4]خضراء[χadˤraːʔ]'green' (f.)May be velar, post-velar or uvular, depending on dialect.[4] See Arabic phonology
Assyrian Neo-Aramaickhokha[χɔ:χa:]'nectarine'May be velar [x] for some speakers.
ArmenianEastern[5]խոտ [χot] ‘grass’
Avarорх[orχ]'to lift'Contrasts with a tense form
Chilcotinʔalax[ʔælaχ]'I made it'
DanishStandard[6]pres[ˈpχa̝s]'pressure'Before /r/, aspiration of /p, t, k/ is realized as devoicing of /r/.[7] Usually transcribed in IPA with ʁ̥ or simply ʁ. See Danish phonology.
DutchStandard Northern[8][9]acht[ɑχt]'eight'May be post-velar, either a fricative [][8] or a trill fricative [ʀ̝̊˖].[10] See Dutch phonology
EnglishScouse[11]clock[kl̥ɒχ]'clock'Possible word-final realization of /k/.[11]
Welsh[12][13]Amlwch[ˈamlʊχ]'Amlwch'Occurs only in loanwords from Welsh;[12] usually transcribed in IPA with x. See English phonology
White South African English[3][14]gogga[ˈχɒχə]'insect'Less commonly velar [x], occurs only in loanwords from Afrikaans and Khoisian.[3] Usually transcribed in IPA with x. See English phonology
Frenchproche[pχɔʃ]'nearby'Allophone of /ʁ/ before or after voiceless obstruent. See French phonology
GermanStandard[15]Dach[daχ]'roof'Appears only after certain back vowels. See Standard German phonology
Chemnitz dialect[16]Rock[χɔkʰ]'skirt'In free variation with [ʁ̞], [ʁ], [ʀ̥] and [q].[16] Doesn't occur in the coda.[16]
Lower Rhine[17]Wirte[ˈvɪχtə]'hosts'In free variation with [ɐ] between a vowel and a voiceless coronal consonant.
Swissmich[mɪχ]'me' (acc.)Some speakers; others have velar [x]. Swiss German makes no distinction between /x/ and /ç/.
Hebrew[18]צָרַח[ʦˁaraχ]'Shout'May be a trilled fricative instead.[18] See Modern Hebrew phonology
Kabardianпхъэ [pχa] 'wood'
Klallamsaʔqʷaʔ[sχaʔqʷaʔ]'salmon backbone'
Lezgianхат[χatʰ]'bead'Contrasts with a labialized form
LimburgishHamont dialect[19]r[jɔːχ¹]'year'Word-final allophone of /ʀ/; can be a fricative trill [ʀ̝̊] instead.[19]
Luxembourgish[20]Zuch[t͡suχ]'train'See Luxembourgish phonology
Oowekyalac̓k̓vtthkc[t͡sʼkʷʼχtʰt͡ɬʰkʰt͡sʰ]'the invisible one here with me will be short'
Ossetic Iron хæдзар [χəˈzär] 'house'
Nez Perce[ˈχəχɑˑt͡s]'grizzly bear'
PortugueseFluminenseanarquia[ɐ̃näχˈki.ɐ]'anarchy'In free variation with [x], [ʁ ~ ʀ], [ħ] and [h] before voiceless consonants.
General Brazilian[21]marrom[mäˈχõː]'brown' (noun)Some dialects, corresponds to rhotic consonant /ʁ/. See Portuguese phonology
Saanichwexes[wəχəs]'small frogs'Contrasts with a labialized form
Serixeecoj[χɛːkox]'wolf'Contrasts with a labialized form
SpanishEuropean[22][23]ojo [ˈo̞χo̞] 'eye'May be post-velar instead.[22][24][25] It's also an allophone of /x/ before back vowels and [w][26] for speakers with a velar /x/. It corresponds to [x ~ h] in southern Spain and Latin America.[24] See Spanish phonology
Ponce dialect[27]perro[ˈpe̞χo̞]'dog'This and [ʀ̥] are the primary realizations of /r/ in this dialect.[27] See Spanish phonology
SwedishSouthernsjuk[χʉːk]'sick'Dialectal. See Swedish phonology
Tlingittlaxh[tɬʰɐχ]'very'Contrasts with labialized, ejective and labialized ejective form
Ubykh[χɐpɬɨ́]'pink'One of ten distinct uvular fricative phonemes. See Ubykh phonology
Welshcarchar[ˈkarχar]'jail'See Welsh phonology
West Frisianberch[bɛrχ]'mountain'Never occurs in word-initial positions.
Yiddishבוך[bʊχ]'book'See Yiddish phonology
Central Alaskan Yup'ikarrluk[ˈaχɬuk]'killer whale, orca'Never occurs in word-initial positions.

See also


  1. Ladefoged & Maddieson (1996), p. 167.
  2. 1 2 "John Wells's phonetic blog: velar or uvular?". 5 December 2011. Retrieved 30 April 2015.
  3. 1 2 3 Bowerman (2004:939): "White South African English is one of very few varieties to have a velar fricative phoneme /x/ (see Lass (2002:120)), but this is only in words borrowed from Afrikaans (...) and Khoisan (...). Many speakers use the Afrikaans uvular fricative [χ] rather than the velar."
  4. 1 2 Watson (2002), pp. 17, 19-20, 35-36 and 38.
  5. Dum-Tragut (2009), p. 18.
  6. Basbøll (2005), pp. 62, 65–66.
  7. Basbøll (2005), pp. 65–66.
  8. 1 2 Gussenhoven (1999), p. 74.
  9. Verhoeven (2005), p. 245.
  10. Collins & Mees (2003:191). The source says that it is a fricative with a "very energetic articulation with considerable scrapiness", i.e. a trill fricative.
  11. 1 2 Wells (1982), pp. 372–373.
  12. 1 2 Wells (1982), p. 389.
  13. Tench (1990), p. 132.
  14. Wells (1982), p. 619.
  15. Hall (1993:100), footnote 7, citing Kohler (1990)
  16. 1 2 3 Khan & Weise (2013), p. 235.
  17. Hall (1993), p. 89.
  18. 1 2 Laufer (1999), p. 98.
  19. 1 2 Verhoeven (2007), p. 220.
  20. Gilles & Trouvain (2013), p. 68.
  21. Barbosa & Albano (2004), pp. 5–6.
  22. 1 2 Lyons (1981), p. 76.
  23. Harris & Vincent (1988), p. 83.
  24. 1 2 Chen (2007), p. 13.
  25. Hamond (2001:?), cited in Scipione & Sayahi (2005:128)
  26. Martínez-Celdrán, Fernández-Planas & Carrera-Sabaté (2003), p. 258.
  27. 1 2 "ProQuest Document View - The Spanish of Ponce, Puerto Rico: A phonetic, phonological, and intonational analysis".


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