Voiced glottal fricative

The breathy-voiced glottal transition, commonly called a voiced glottal fricative, is a type of sound used in some spoken languages which 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 ɦ, and the equivalent X-SAMPA symbol is h\.

Voiced glottal fricative
IPA Number147
Entity (decimal)ɦ
Unicode (hex)U+0266
Audio sample
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In many languages, [ɦ] has no place or manner of articulation. Thus, it has been described as a breathy-voiced counterpart of the following vowel from a phonetic point of view. However, its characteristics are also influenced by the preceding vowels and whatever other sounds surround it. Therefore, it can be described as a segment whose only consistent feature is its breathy voice phonation in such languages.[1] It may have real glottal constriction in a number of languages (such as Finnish[2]), making it a fricative.

Lamé contrasts voiceless and voiced glottal fricatives.[3]


Features of the voiced glottal fricative:

  • Its phonation type is breathy voiced, or murmured, which means the vocal cords are loosely vibrating, with more air escaping than in a modally voiced sound. It is sometimes referred to as a "voiced h". Strictly speaking this is incorrect, as there is no voicing.[4]
  • In some languages, it has the constricted manner of articulation of a fricative. However, in many if not most it is a transitional state of the glottis with no manner of articulation other than its phonation type. Because there is no other constriction to produce friction in the vocal tract, most phoneticians no longer consider [ɦ] to be a fricative. True fricatives may have a murmured phonation in addition to producing friction elsewhere. However, the term "fricative" is generally retained for the historical reasons.
  • It may have a glottal place of articulation. However, it may have no fricative articulation, making the term glottal mean that it is articulated by the vocal folds, but this is the nature of its phonation rather than a separate articulation. All consonants except for the glottals, and all vowels, have an individual place of articulation in addition to the state of the glottis. As with all other consonants, surrounding vowels influence the pronunciation [ɦ], and accordingly [ɦ] has only the place of articulation of these surrounding vowels.
  • It is represented using the Latin alphabet letters Ɦ, ɦ and superscript modifier letter ʱ (the foremost not within standard IPA notation).
  • It is an oral consonant, which means air is allowed to escape through the mouth only.
  • Because the sound is not produced with airflow over the tongue, the centrallateral dichotomy does not apply.


BasqueNortheastern dialects[5]hemen [ɦemen]'here'Can be voiceless [h] instead.
Czechhlava[ˈɦlava]'head'See Czech phonology
Danish[3]Mon det har regnet?[- d̥e̝ ɦɑ -]'I wonder if it has rained.'Common allophone of /h/ between vowels.[3] See Danish phonology
Dutch[6]haat[ɦaːt]'hate'See Dutch phonology
EnglishAustralian[7]behind[bəˈɦɑe̯nd]'behind'Allophone of /h/ between voiced sounds.[7][8] See Australian English phonology and English phonology
Received Pronunciation[8][bɪˈɦaɪ̯nd]
Broad South Africanhand[ˈɦɛn̪t̪]'hand'Some speakers, only before a stressed vowel.
Estonianraha[rɑɦɑ]'money'Allophone of /h/ between voiced sounds. See Estonian phonology and Finnish phonology
FrenchQuebec[9]manger[mãɦe]'to eat'Limited to a minority of speakers. Can also be realized as a voiceless [h].
Hebrewמַהֵר[mäɦe̞r] 'fast'See Modern Hebrew phonology
Hindustaniहूँ / ہوں[ɦu᷉]'am'See Hindustani phonology
Korean여행 / yeohaeng[jʌɦεŋ]'travel'Occurs as an allophone of /h/ between voiced sounds. See Korean phonology
LimburgishSome dialects[11][12]hart [ɦɑ̽ʀ̝t]'heart'Voiceless [h] in other dialects. The example word is from the Maastrichtian dialect.
Lithuanianhumoras [ˈɦʊmɔrɐs̪]'humour'Often pronounced instead of [ɣ]. See Lithuanian phonology
PolishPodhale dialecthydrant[ˈɦɘ̟d̪rän̪t̪]'fire hydrant'Contrasts with /x/. Standard Polish possesses only /x/. See Polish phonology
Kresy dialect
PortugueseMany Brazilian dialectsesse rapaz[ˈesi ɦaˈpajs]'this youth' (m.)Allophone of /ʁ/. [h, ɦ] are marginal sounds to many speakers, particularly out of Brazil. See Portuguese phonology and guttural R
Many speakershashi[ɦɐˈʃi]'chopsticks'
Some Brazilian[13][14] dialectsmesmo[ˈmeɦmu]'same'Corresponds to either /s/ or /ʃ/ (depending on dialect) in the syllable coda. Might also be deleted.
Cearense dialect[15]gente[ˈɦẽ.t͡ʃi]'people'In cearense dialect, there is debuccalization of phonemes [ʒ], [v] and [z] to [ɦ].
RomanianTransylvanian dialects[16]haină[ˈɦainə]'coat'Corresponds to [h] in standard Romanian. See Romanian phonology
Slovakhora [ˈɦɔ̝rä] 'mountain'
SloveneLittoral dialectshora [ˈɦɔra]'mountain'This is a general feature of all Slovene dialects west of the Škofja LokaPlanina line. Corresponds to [ɡ] in other dialects.
Rovte dialects
Sylhetiꠢꠥꠐꠇꠤ[ɦuʈki]'dried fish'
Ukrainianголос[ˈɦɔlɔs]'voice'Also described as [ʕ]. See Ukrainian phonology
Hindiहिन्दी[ɦɪn.d̪iː]'Hindi'See Hindustani phonology

See also



  • April, Pascale (2007), "The Posteriorization of Palato-Alveolar Fricatives in Quebec French: An Effort-Based Approach", Cahiers Linguistiques d'Ottawa, 35: 1–24
  • Cox, Felicity; Fletcher, Janet (2017) [First published 2012], Australian English Pronunciation and Transcription (2nd ed.), Cambridge University Press, ISBN 978-1-316-63926-9
  • Grønnum, Nina (2005), Fonetik og fonologi, Almen og Dansk (3rd ed.), Copenhagen: Akademisk Forlag, ISBN 87-500-3865-6
  • Gussenhoven, Carlos (1992), "Dutch", Journal of the International Phonetic Association, 22 (2): 45–47, doi:10.1017/S002510030000459X
  • Gussenhoven, Carlos; Aarts, Flor (1999), "The dialect of Maastricht" (PDF), Journal of the International Phonetic Association, University of Nijmegen, Centre for Language Studies, 29: 155–166, doi:10.1017/S0025100300006526
  • Harry, Otelemate (2003), "Kalaḅarị-Ịjo", Journal of the International Phonetic Association, 33 (1): 113–120, doi:10.1017/S002510030300121X
  • Hualde, José Ignacio; Ortiz de Urbina, Jon, eds. (2003), A Grammar of Basque, Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, ISBN 3-11-017683-1
  • 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
  • Pop, Sever (1938), Micul Atlas Linguistic Român, Muzeul Limbii Române Cluj
  • Roach, Peter (2004), "British English: Received Pronunciation", Journal of the International Phonetic Association, 34 (2): 239–245, doi:10.1017/S0025100304001768
  • Verhoeven, Jo (2007), "The Belgian Limburg dialect of Hamont", Journal of the International Phonetic Association, 37 (2): 219–225, doi:10.1017/S0025100307002940
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