Voiceless glottal fricative

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Voiceless glottal fricative
IPA number146
Entity (decimal)h
Unicode (hex)U+0068
Braille⠓ (braille pattern dots-125)
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Voiceless glottal fricative
IPA number146
Entity (decimal)h
Unicode (hex)U+0068
Braille⠓ (braille pattern dots-125)
Sorry, your browser either has JavaScript disabled or does not have any supported player.
You can download the clip or download a player to play the clip in your browser.

The voiceless glottal transition, commonly called a "fricative", is a type of sound used in some spoken languages that 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 h, and the equivalent X-SAMPA symbol is h.

Although [h] has been described as a voiceless vowel, because in many languages it lacks the place and manner of articulation of a prototypical consonant, it also lacks the height and backness of a prototypical vowel:

[h and ɦ] have been described as voiceless or breathy voiced counterparts of the vowels that follow them [but] the shape of the vocal tract […] is often simply that of the surrounding sounds. […] Accordingly, in such cases it is more appropriate to regard h and ɦ as segments that have only a laryngeal specification, and are unmarked for all other features. There are other languages [such as Hebrew and Arabic] which show a more definite displacement of the formant frequencies for h, suggesting it has a [glottal] constriction associated with its production.[1]


Features of the "voiceless glottal fricative":


AdygheShapsugхыгь[həɡʲ]'now'Corresponds to [x] in other dialects.
ArabicStandard[2]هائل[ˈhaːʔɪl]'enormous'See Arabic phonology
ArmenianEastern[3]հայերենAbout this sound [hɑjɛɾɛn] 'Armenian'
Asturianguae[ˈɣwahe̞]'child'Mainly present in eastern dialects.
BasqueNorth-Eastern dialects[4]hirur[hiɾur]'three'Can also be [ɦ].
ChechenхIара / hara[hɑrɐ]'this'
ChineseCantonese ho4[hɔː]'river'See Cantonese phonology
DutchNorthern Netherlands[5]rood[hoːt]'red'An extremely rare realization of /r/, occuring only once in Verstraten & Van de Velde (2001) corpus. Realization of /r/ varies considerably among dialects. See Dutch phonology
Frieslandhaat[haːt]'hate'Word-initial allophone of /ɦ/.
HollandSome dialects. Corresponds to [ɦ] in standard Dutch.
Englishhigh[haɪ̯]'high'See English phonology and H-dropping
Finnishhammas[hɑmːɑs]'tooth'See Finnish phonology
FrenchBelgianhotte[ˈhɔt]'pannier'Found in the region of Liège.
German[7]Hass[has]'hatred'See German phonology
GreekCypriot[8]μαχαζί[mahaˈzi]'shop'Allophone of /x/ before /a/.
Hawaiian[9]haka[haka]'shelf'See Hawaiian phonology
Hebrewהר[haʁ]'mountain'See Modern Hebrew phonology
HindiStandard[2]हम[ˈhəm]'we'See Hindustani phonology
Hmonghawm[haɨ̰]'to honor'
Hungarianhelyes[hɛjɛʃ]'right'See Hungarian phonology
ItalianTuscan[10]i capitani[iˌhäɸiˈθäːni]'the captains'Intervocalic allophone of /k/; it may be an approximant [h̞] instead. See Italian phonology
Japaneseすはだ suhada[su͍hada]'bare skin'See Japanese phonology
Korean호랑이 horang-i[ho̞ɾɐŋi]'tiger'See Korean phonology
Norwegianhatt[hɑtː]'hat'See Norwegian phonology
Persianهفت[hæft]'seven'See Persian phonology
PortugueseGeneral Brazilian[11]rápido[ˈhapidu]'fast', 'quick'Some of the rhotic consonants in most dialects; main rhotic in some. Corresponds to phoneme /ʁ/.
TimoreseMesolect/basilect, /ʁ/ in acrolect. See Portuguese phonology and languages of East Timor
Romanianhăţ[həts]'bridle'See Romanian phonology
Spanish[12]Andalusianhigo[ˈhiɣo̞]'fig'Corresponds to Old Spanish /h/, which was developed from Latin /f/ but muted in other dialects.
Many dialectsobispo[o̞ˈβ̞ihpo̞]'bishop'Allophone of /s/. See Spanish phonology
Some dialectsjaca[ˈhaka]'pony'Corresponds to /x/ in other dialects.
Swedishhatt[ˈhatː]'hat'See Swedish phonology
Turkishhalı[häˈɫɯ]'carpet'See Turkish phonology
Ubykh[dwaha]'prayer'See Ubykh phonology
UrduStandard[2]ہم[ˈhəm]'we'See Hindi-Urdu phonology
Vietnamese[13]hiểu[hjew˧˩˧]'understand'See Vietnamese phonology
Welshhaul[ˈhaɨl]'sun'See Welsh orthography
West Frisianhoeke[ˈhukə]'corner'
Yi hxa[ha˧]'hundred'

See also[edit]



  • Arvaniti, Amalia (1999), "Cypriot Greek", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 29 (2): 173–178, doi:10.1017/S002510030000654X 
  • Barbosa, Plínio A.; Albano, Eleonora C. (2004), "Brazilian Portuguese", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 34 (2): 227–232, doi:10.1017/S0025100304001756 
  • Dum-Tragut, Jasmine (2009), Armenian: Modern Eastern Armenian, Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company 
  • Hall, Robert A. Jr. (1944). "Italian phonemes and orthography". Italica (American Association of Teachers of Italian) 21 (2): 72–82. doi:10.2307/475860. JSTOR 475860. 
  • Hualde, José Ignacio; Ortiz de Urbina, Jon, eds. (2003), A grammar of Basque, Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, ISBN 3-11-017683-1 
  • Kohler, Klaus (1999), "German", Handbook of the International Phonetic Association:A Guide to the Use of the International Phonetic Alphabet, Cambridge University Press, pp. 86–89, ISBN 0-521-63751-1 
  • Ladefoged, Peter (2005), Vowels and Consonants (Second ed.), Blackwell 
  • Ladefoged, Peter; Maddieson, Ian (1996). The Sounds of the World's Languages. Oxford: Blackwell. ISBN 0-631-19814-8. 
  • Laufer, Asher (1991), "Phonetic Representation: Glottal Fricatives", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 21 (2): 91–93, doi:10.1017/S0025100300004448 
  • Martínez-Celdrán, Eugenio; Fernández-Planas, Ana Ma.; Carrera-Sabaté, Josefina (2003), "Castilian Spanish", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 33 (2): 255–259, doi:10.1017/S0025100303001373 
  • Shosted, Ryan K.; Chikovani, Vakhtang (2006), "Standard Georgian", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 36 (2): 255–264, doi:10.1017/S0025100306002659 
  • Thelwall, Robin (1990), "Illustrations of the IPA: Arabic", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 20 (2): 37–41, doi:10.1017/S0025100300004266 
  • Thompson, Laurence (1959), "Saigon phonemics", Language 35 (3): 454–476, doi:10.2307/411232, JSTOR 411232 
  • Verstraten, Bart; Van de Velde, Hans (2001), "Socio-geographical variation of /r/ in standard Dutch", in Van de Velde, Hans; van Hout, Roeland, 'r-atics, Brussels: Etudes & Travaux, pp. 45–61, ISSN 0777-3692