Voiceless labiodental affricate
Audio sample

A voiceless labiodental affricate ([p̪͡f] in IPA) is a rare affricate consonant that is initiated as a labiodental stop [p̪] and released as a voiceless labiodental fricative [f].

The XiNkuna dialect of Tsonga has this affricate, as in [tiɱp̪͡fuβu] "hippopotamuses" and aspirated [ɱp̪͡fʰuka] "distance" (compare [ɱfutsu] "tortoise", which shows that the stop is not epenthetic), as well as a voiced labiodental affricate, [b̪͡v], as in [ʃileb̪͡vu] "chin". There is no voiceless labiodental fricative [f] in this dialect of Tsonga, only a voiceless bilabial fricative, as in [ɸu] "finished". (Among voiced fricatives, both [β] and [v] occur, however.)

German has a similar sound /p͡f/ in Pfeffer /ˈp͡fɛfɐ/ ('pepper') and Apfel /ˈap͡fəl/ ('apple'). Phonotactically, this sound does not occur after long vowels, diphthongs or /l/. It differs from a true labiodental affricate in that it starts out bilabial but then the lower lip retracts slightly for the frication.

The sound occurs occasionally in English, in words where one syllable ends with "p" and the next starts with "f", like in "helpful" or "stepfather".


Features of the voiceless labiodental affricate:


Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
German Standard[1] Pfirsiche About this sound[ˈp͡fɪɐ̯zɪçə]  'peaches' Bilabial-labiodental. [1] Arisen as a reflex of /p/ in the 10th century High German sound shift.[2] See Standard German phonology
Swiss dialects[3][4] Soipfe [ˈz̥oi̯p͡fə] 'soap' Bilabial-labiodental. The example word is from the Zurich dialect.
Italian Some central-south dialects[5] infatti [iɱˈp̪͡fät̪̚t̪i] 'indeed' Labiodental, allophone of /f/ after nasals.[5] See Italian phonology
Luxembourgish[6] Kampf [ˈkʰɑmp͡f] 'fight' Occurs only in German loanwords.[6] See Luxembourgish phonology
Ngiti[7] pfɔ̀mvɔ [p̪͡fɔ̀ɱ(b̪)vɔ̄] 'water spirit' Less commonly [p͡ɸ][8]
Tsonga XiNkuna dialect timpfuvu [tiɱp̪͡fuβu] 'hippopotami' Contrasts with aspirated form.
Mandarin Xi'an dialect 猪/豬 [p̪͡fu²¹] 'pig' From the labialization of retroflex stops in Middle Chinese


  1. ^ a b Mangold (2005), p. 45.
  2. ^ Fausto Cercignani, The Consonants of German: Synchrony and Diachrony, Milano, Cisalpino, 1979.
  3. ^ Fleischer & Schmid (2006), p. 244.
  4. ^ Marti (1985), p. ?.
  5. ^ a b Canepari (1992), p. 71.
  6. ^ a b Gilles & Trouvain (2013), p. 72.
  7. ^ Kutsch Lojenga (1992), p. 31.
  8. ^ Kutsch Lojenga (1992), p. 45.


  • Canepari, Luciano (1992), Il MªPi – Manuale di pronuncia italiana [Handbook of Italian Pronunciation] (in Italian), Bologna: Zanichelli, ISBN 88-08-24624-8
  • Fleischer, Jürg; Schmid, Stephan (2006), "Zurich German" (PDF), Journal of the International Phonetic Association, 36 (2): 243–253, doi:10.1017/S0025100306002441
  • Gilles, Peter; Trouvain, Jürgen (2013), "Luxembourgish" (PDF), Journal of the International Phonetic Association, 43 (1): 67–74, doi:10.1017/S0025100312000278
  • Kutsch Lojenga, Constance (1994), Ngiti: a Central-Sudanic language of Zaire, Köln: Rüdiger Köppe Verlag, ISBN 978-3-927620-71-1
  • Mangold, Max (2005) [First published 1962], Das Aussprachewörterbuch (6th ed.), Mannheim: Dudenverlag, ISBN 978-3-411-04066-7
  • Marti, Werner (1985), Berndeutsch-Grammatik, Bern: Francke, ISBN 3-7720-1587-5