Voiceless pharyngeal fricative
IPA Number144
Audio sample
Entity (decimal)ħ
Unicode (hex)U+0127
Braille⠖ (braille pattern dots-235)⠓ (braille pattern dots-125)

The voiceless pharyngeal fricative is a type of consonantal sound, used in some spoken languages. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is an h-bar, ⟨ħ⟩, and the equivalent X-SAMPA symbol is X\. In the transcription of Arabic, Berber (and other Afro-Asiatic languages) as well as a few other scripts, it is often written ⟨Ḥ⟩, ⟨ḥ⟩.

Typically characterized as fricative in the upper pharynx, it is often characterized as a whispered [h].


Features of the voiceless pharyngeal fricative:


This sound is the most commonly cited realization of the Semitic letter hēth, which occurs in all dialects of Arabic, Classical Syriac, as well as Biblical and Tiberian Hebrew but only a minority of speakers of Modern Hebrew. It has also been reconstructed as appearing in Ancient Egyptian, a related Afro-Asiatic language. Modern non-Oriental Hebrew has merged the voiceless pharyngeal fricative with the voiceless velar (or uvular) fricative. However, phonetic studies have shown that the so-called voiceless pharyngeal fricatives of Semitic languages are often neither pharyngeal (but rather epiglottal) nor fricatives (but rather approximants).[1]

Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Abaza хIахъвы/kh'akh"vy [ħaqʷə] 'stone'
Abkhaz ҳара/khara [ħaˈra] 'we' See Abkhaz phonology
Adyghe тхьэ/tkh'ė [tħa] 'god'
Agul мухI/mukh' [muħ] 'barn'
Amis[2] tuduh [tuɮuħ] 'burn, roast' Word-final allophone of /ʜ/.
Arabic[3] ح‍ال/al [ħaːl] 'situation' See Arabic phonology
Essaouira[4] شلوح (šlū) [ʃlɵːħ] 'chleuh'
Archi хIал/kh'al [ħal] 'state'
Central Neo-Aramaic Turoyo ܡܫܝܚܐ (mšìo) [mʃiːħɔ] 'Christ' Corresponds with [x] in most other dialects.
Atayal hiyan [ħijan] 'in/at/on him/her/it'
Avar xIебецI/kh'ebets' [ħeˈbetsʼ] 'earwax'
Azerbaijani əhdaş [æħd̪ɑʃ] 'instrument'
Chechen ач//حـاچ [ħatʃ] 'plum'
English Some speakers, mostly of Received Pronunciation[5] horrible [ħɒɹɪbəl] 'horrible' Glottal [h] for other speakers.[5] See English phonology
French[6] Some speakers faire [feː(ă)ħ] 'to do, to make'
Galician[7] Some dialects gato [ˈħatʊ] 'cat' Corresponds to /ɡ/ in other dialects. See Galician phonology and gheada
Hebrew Mizrahi חַשְׁמַל/ašmal [ħaʃˈmal] 'electricity' Merged with [χ] for most modern speakers. See Modern Hebrew phonology.
Temani אֶחָדֿ/aḥoḏ [æħɔð] 'one' Yemenite pronunciation of the letter chet. Merged with /χ/ in most other dialects. See Yemenite Hebrew
Kabardian кхъухь/ꝗvɦ/ڨوح [q͡χʷəħ] 'ship'
Kabyle ⴻⴼⴼⴰⴼ/aeffaf/احـفاف [aħəfːaf] 'hairdresser'
Kullui [biːħ] 'twenty' /ħ/ historically derives from /s/ and occurs word-finally[8]
Kurdish Most speakers ol [ħol] 'environment' Corresponds to /h/ in some Kurdish dialects
Maltese Standard wieħed [wiːħet] 'one'
Nuu-chah-nulth ʔaap-ii [ʔaːpˈħiː] 'friendly'
Sioux Nakota haxdanahâ [haħdanahã] 'yesterday'
Somali xood/حٗـود/𐒄𐒝𐒆 [ħoːd] 'cane' See Somali phonology
Ukrainian[9] нігті/nihti [ˈnʲiħtʲi] 'fingernails' Allophone of /ʕ/ (which may be transcribed /ɦ/) before voiceless consonants;[9] can be fronted to [x] in some "weak positions".[9] See Ukrainian phonology

See also


  1. ^ Ladefoged & Maddieson (1996:167–168)
  2. ^ Maddieson, Ian; Wright, Richard (October 1995). "The Vowels and Consonants of Amis — A Preliminary Phonetic Report" (PDF). Fieldwork Studies of Targeted Languages III. UCLA Working Papers in Phonetics Volume 91. pp. 45–65.
  3. ^ Watson (2002:19)
  4. ^ Francisco (2019), p. 89.
  5. ^ a b Collins & Mees (2003), p. 148.
  6. ^ Mager, Irene (1974). A critical analysis of the teaching of French phonology (Thesis). OCLC 9841438. ProQuest 193965929.
  7. ^ Regueira (1996:120)
  8. ^ Thakur 1975, p. 181.
  9. ^ a b c Danyenko & Vakulenko (1995:12)