Voiced pharyngeal fricative
IPA Number145
Audio sample
Entity (decimal)ʕ
Unicode (hex)U+0295
⠖ (braille pattern dots-235)
⠆ (braille pattern dots-23)
Voiced pharyngeal approximant

The voiced pharyngeal approximant or fricative is a type of consonantal sound, used in some spoken languages. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is ⟨ʕ⟩, and the equivalent X-SAMPA symbol is ?\. Epiglottals and epiglotto-pharyngeals are often mistakenly taken to be pharyngeal.

Although traditionally placed in the fricative row of the IPA chart, [ʕ] is usually an approximant. The IPA symbol itself is ambiguous, but no language is known to make a phonemic distinction between fricatives and approximants at this place of articulation. The approximant is sometimes specified as [ʕ̞] or as [ɑ̯], because it is the semivocalic equivalent of [ɑ].


Features of the voiced pharyngeal approximant fricative:


Pharyngeal consonants are not widespread. Sometimes, a pharyngeal approximant develops from a uvular approximant. Many languages that have been described as having pharyngeal fricatives or approximants turn out on closer inspection to have epiglottal consonants instead. For example, the candidate /ʕ/ sound in Arabic and standard Hebrew (not modern Hebrew – Israelis generally pronounce this as a glottal stop) has been variously described as a voiced epiglottal fricative, an epiglottal approximant,[1] or a pharyngealized glottal stop.[2]

Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Abaza гӀапынхъамыз/g'apynkh"amyz [ʕaːpənqaːməz] 'March'
Arabic عَقْرَب/ʿaqrab [ʕaqrab] 'scorpion' See Arabic phonology
Assyrian Eastern ܬܪܥܐ täroa [tʌrʕɑ] 'door'

The majority of the speakers will pronounce the word as [tʌrɑ].

Western [tʌrʕɔ]
Avar гӀоркь/g'ork' [ʕortɬʼː] 'handle'
Chechen Ӏан / jan [ʕan]  'winter'
Coeur d'Alene[3] stʕin [stʕin] 'antelope'
Danish Standard[4] ravn [ʕ̞ɑ̈wˀn] 'raven' An approximant;[4] also described as uvular [ʁ].[5] See Danish phonology
Dutch Limburg[6] rad [ʕ̞ɑt] 'wheel' An approximant; a possible realization of /r/.[6] Realization of /r/ varies considerably among dialects. See Dutch phonology
German Some speakers[7] Mutter [ˈmutɔʕ̞] 'mother' An approximant; occurs in East Central Germany, Southwestern Germany, parts of Switzerland and in Tyrol.[7] See Standard German phonology
Swabian dialect[8] ändard [ˈend̥aʕ̞d̥] 'changes' An approximant.[8] It's an allophone of /ʁ/ in nucleus and coda positions;[8] pronounced as a uvular approximant in onsets.[8]
Hebrew Iraqi עברית/i'vrit [ʕibˈriːθ] 'Hebrew language' See Modern Hebrew phonology
Sephardi [ʕivˈɾit]
Yemenite [ʕivˈriːθ] 
Ingush Iаддал [ʕaddal] 'Archer'
Kabyle[9] ɛemmi [ʕəmːi] 'my (paternal) uncle'
Kurdish Kurmanji ewr [ʕɜwr] 'cloud' The sound is usually not written in the Latin alphabet, but ' can be used.
Luwati قلعة [qilʕa] 'castle' Used in Arabic loanwords
Malay Kedah باکر / bakar [ba.kaʕ] 'burn' Allophone of /r/ as word-final coda. Could be voiced velar fricative [ɣ] for some speakers.[10]
Occitan Southern Auvergnat pala [ˈpaʕa] 'shovel' See Occitan phonology
Somali cunto [ʕuntɔ] 'food' See Somali phonology
Sioux Stoney marazhud [maʕazud] 'rain'
Ukrainian голос [ˈʕɔlos] 'voice' Also described as glottal [ɦ]. See Ukrainian phonology

See also


  1. ^ Ladefoged & Maddieson (1996:167–168)
  2. ^ Thelwall (1990)
  3. ^ Doak, I. G. (1997). Coeur d'Alene grammatical relations (Doctorate dissertation). Austin, TX: University of Texas at Austin.
  4. ^ a b Ladefoged & Maddieson (1996:323)
  5. ^ Basbøll (2005:62)
  6. ^ a b Collins & Mees (2003:201)
  7. ^ a b Dudenredaktion, Kleiner & Knöbl (2015:51)
  8. ^ a b c d Markus Hiller. "Pharyngeals and "lax" vowel quality" (PDF). Mannheim: Institut für Deutsche Sprache. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-05-28. Retrieved 2015-02-24.
  9. ^ Bonafont (2006:9)
  10. ^ Mohamed, Noriah (June 2009). "The Malay Chetty Creole Language of Malacca: A Historical and Linguistic Perspective". Journal of the Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society. 82(1 (296)) (1 (296)): 60. JSTOR 41493734 – via JSTOR.

General references