Voiced glottal fricative
IPA Number147
Audio sample
Entity (decimal)ɦ
Unicode (hex)U+0266
⠦ (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.

Lamé contrasts voiceless and voiced glottal fricatives.[3]


Features of the voiced glottal fricative:


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[3] Mon det har regnet? [- te̝ ɦɑ -] 'I wonder if it has rained.' Common allophone of /h/ between vowels.[3] See Danish phonology
Dutch[7] haat [ɦaːt] 'hate' See Dutch phonology
English Australian[8] behind [bəˈɦɑe̯nd] 'behind' Allophone of /h/ between voiced sounds.[8][9] See Australian English phonology and English phonology
Received Pronunciation[9] [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[10] 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
Indonesian Some speakers bahan [baˈɦan] 'ingredients'
Kalabari[11] hóín [ɦóĩ́] 'introduction'
Korean 여행 / yeohaeng [jʌɦεŋ] 'travel' Occurs as an allophone of /h/ between voiced sounds. See Korean phonology
Limburgish Some dialects[12][13] hart [ɦɑ̽ʀ̝t] 'heart' Voiceless [h] in other dialects. The example word is from the Maastrichtian dialect.
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[14][15] dialects mesmo [ˈmeɦmu] 'same' Corresponds to either /s/ or /ʃ/ (depending on dialect) in the syllable coda. Might also be deleted.
Cearense dialect[16] 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[17] haină [ˈɦajnə] 'coat' Corresponds to [h] in standard Romanian. See Romanian phonology
Silesian hangrys [ˈɦaŋɡrɨs] 'gooseberry'
Spanish Cuban virgen [biɦhen] 'virgin' See Spanish phonology
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]. See Ukrainian phonology
Zulu ihhashi [iːˈɦaːʃi] 'horse'

See also


  1. ^ Ladefoged & Maddieson (1996:325–326)
  2. ^ Laufer (1991:91)
  3. ^ a b c Grønnum (2005:125)
  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. ISSN 0025-1003.
  6. ^ Hualde & Ortiz de Urbina (2003:24)
  7. ^ Gussenhoven (1992:45)
  8. ^ a b Cox & Fletcher (2017:159)
  9. ^ a b Roach (2004:241)
  10. ^ April (2007)
  11. ^ Harry (2003:113)
  12. ^ Gussenhoven & Aarts (1999:155)
  13. ^ Verhoeven (2007:219)
  14. ^ (in Portuguese) Pará Federal University – The pronunciation of /s/ and its variations across Bragança municipality's Portuguese
  15. ^ (in Portuguese) Rio de Janeiro Federal University – The variation of post-vocallic /S/ in the speech of Petrópolis, Itaperuna and Paraty
  16. ^ "A NEUTRALIZAÇÃO DOS FONEMAS / v – z - Z / NO FALAR DE FORTALEZA" (PDF). profala.ufc.br. Retrieved 23 April 2012.
  17. ^ Pop (1938), p. 30.