Voiceless nasal glottal approximant

The voiceless nasal glottal approximant is a type of consonantal sound, a nasal approximant, used in some oral languages. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is , that is, an h with a tilde.


The h sound is nasalized in several languages, apparently due to a connection between glottal and nasal sounds called rhinoglottophilia. Examples of languages where the only h-like sound is nasalized are Krim, Lisu, and Pirahã.

More rarely, a language will contrast oral /h/ and nasal /h̃/. Two such languages are neighboring Bantu languages of Angola and Namibia, Kwangali and Mbukushu. In these languages, vowels following /h̃/ are nasalized, though nasal vowels do not occur elsewhere. A distinction is also reported from Wolaytta, though in that case the nasal is rare.

Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Basque Souletin dialect[1] ahate [ãˈh̃ãte] 'duck'
Kaingang[2] hũg [h̃ũŋ] 'hawk' Possible word-initial realization of /h/ before a nasal vowel.[2]
Kwangali[3] nhonho [h̃õh̃õ] Tribulus species
Khoekhoegowab Damara dialect hû [h̃ũː] 'six' Free variation[clarification needed]
Tofa[4] иʔһён [iʔh̃jon] 'twenty' no separate letter for /h̃/, the same letter is used as the one for /h/.


  1. ^ Hualde & Ortiz de Urbina (2003), p. 25.
  2. ^ a b Jolkesky (2009), pp. 676, 681.
  3. ^ Ladefoged & Maddieson (1996), pp. 132–3.
  4. ^ "Karagas". mpi-lingweb.shh.mpg.de. Retrieved 2020-12-18.