Voiced velar fricative

The voiced velar fricative is a type of consonantal sound, used in various spoken languages. It is not found in Modern English but it existed in Old English.[1] The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is ɣ, a Latinized variant of the Greek letter gamma, γ, which has this sound in Modern Greek. It should not be confused with the graphically similar ɤ, the IPA symbol for a close-mid back unrounded vowel, which some writings[2] use for the voiced velar fricative.

Voiced velar fricative
IPA Number141
Entity (decimal)ɣ
Unicode (hex)U+0263
Audio sample
source · help

The symbol ɣ is also sometimes used to represent the velar approximant, though that is more accurately written with the lowering diacritic: [ɣ̞] or [ɣ˕]. The IPA also provides a dedicated symbol for a velar approximant, [ɰ], though there can be stylistic reasons to not use it in phonetic transcription.

There is also a voiced post-velar fricative (also called pre-uvular) in some languages. For voiced pre-velar fricative (also called post-palatal), see voiced palatal fricative.


Features of the voiced velar fricative:

  • Its phonation is voiced, which means the vocal cords vibrate during the articulation.
  • It is an oral consonant, which means air is allowed to escape through the mouth only.
  • It is a central consonant, which means it is produced by directing the airstream along the center of the tongue, rather than to the sides.


Some of the consonants listed as post-velar may actually be trill fricatives.

Adygheчъыгы[t͡ʂəɣə] 'tree'
Angasγür[ɣyr]'to pick up'
ArabicModern Standard[3]غريب[ɣæˈriːb]'stranger'May be velar, post-velar or uvular, depending on dialect.[4] See Arabic phonology
Aromanianghini[ˈɣi.ni]'well'Allophone of /g/
Assyrian/SyriacEasternܦܲܓ݂ܪܵܐ / paġ[pʰʌɣrʌ]'body'Allophone of /x/ before voiced consonants, otherwise an uncommon pronunciation of /ɡ/.
Westernܦܰܓ݂ܪܳܐ / paġ[fʌɣrɔ]'body'
Asturiangadañu[ɣaˈd̪ãɲʊ]'scythe'Allophone of /ɡ/ in almost all positions
Basque[5]hego[heɣo]'wing'Allophone of /ɡ/
Catalan[6]figuera[fiˈɣeɾə]'fig tree'Allophone of /ɡ/. See Catalan phonology
ChechenгӀала / ġala[ɣaːla]'town'
ChineseXiang湖南[ɣu˩˧nia˩˧]'Hunan (province)'
Czechbych byl[bɪɣ bɪl]'I would be'Allophone of /x/ before voiced consonants. See Czech phonology
DutchStandard Belgian[7][8]gaan[ɣaːn]'to go'May be post-palatal [ʝ̠] instead.[8] See Dutch phonology
Southern accents[8]
Georgian[9]არიბი[ɣɑribi]'poor'May actually be post-velar or uvular
German[10][11]damalige[ˈdaːmaːlɪɣə]'former'Intervocalic allophone of /g/ in casual Austrian speech.[10][11] See Standard German phonology
Greekγάλα/gála[ˈɣɐlɐ]'milk'See Modern Greek phonology
Gujaratiવા[ʋɑ̤̈ɣəɽ̃]'tigress'See Gujarati phonology
Gwich’invideeghàn[viteːɣân]'his/her chest'
Haitian Creolediri[diɣi]'rice'
Händëgëghor[təkəɣor]'I am playing'
Hindi[12]ग़रीब[ɣ̄əriːb]'poor'Post-velar.[12] See Hindi-Urdu phonology
Iranian Turkicاوغول[oɣul]'son'
Icelandicsaga[ˈsaːɣaː]'saga'See Icelandic phonology
Irisha dhorn[ə ɣoːɾˠn̪ˠ]'his fist'See Irish phonology
Istro-Romanian[13]gură[ˈɣurə]'mouth'Corresponds to [g] in standard Romanian. See Romanian phonology
Iwaidja[mulaɣa]'hermit crab'
Japanese[14]はげ/hage[haɣe]'baldness'Allophone of /ɡ/, especially in fast or casual speech. See Japanese phonology
Kabardianгын[ɣən] 'powder'
Korean나흘/naheul[naɣɯl]'four days'
Limburgish[15][16]gaw [ɣɑ̟β̞]'quick'The example word is from the Maastrichtian dialect.
Lithuanianhumoras[ˈɣʊmɔrɐs̪]'humor'Preferred over [ɦ]. See Lithuanian phonology
Low German[17]gaan[ˈɣɔ̃ːn]'to go'Increasingly replaced with High German [g]
MalayStandard Malayghaib[ɣai̯b]'unseen'Mostly in loanwords from Arabic. Indonesians tend to replace the sound with /g/.
Kelantan dialectramai[ɣamaː]'crowded (with people)'/r/ in Standard Malay is barely articulated in almost all of the Malay dialects in Malaysia. Usually it is uttered as guttural R at initial and medial position of a word. See Malay phonology
Terengganu dialect
Negeri Sembilan dialect[ɣamai̯]
Pahang dialect[ɣamɛ̃ː]
Sarawak dialect[ɣamɛː]
MacedonianBerovo accentдувна[ˈduɣna]'it blew'Corresponds to etymological /x/ of other dialects, before sonorants. See Maleševo-Pirin dialect and Macedonian phonology
Bukovo accentглава[ˈɡɣa(v)a]'head'Allophone of /l/ instead of usual [ɫ]. See Prilep-Bitola dialect
MandarinDongping dialect[ɣän55]'I'
NgweMmockngie dialect[nøɣə̀]'sun'
Northern Qiang?[ɣnəʂ]'February'
NorwegianUrban East[18]å ha[ɔ ˈɣɑː]'to have'Possible allophone of /h/ between two back vowels; can be voiceless [x] instead.[18] See Norwegian phonology
OccitanGascondigoc[diˈɣuk]'said' (3rd pers. sg.)
Polishniechże[ˈɲɛɣʐɛ]'let' (imperative particle)Allophone of /x/ before voiced consonants. See Polish phonology
PortugueseEuropean[19][20]agora[əˈɣɔɾə]'now'Allophone of /ɡ/. See Portuguese phonology
Some Brazilian dialects[21]rmore[ˈmaɣmuɾi]'marble', 'sill'Allophone of rhotic consonant (voiced equivalent to [x], itself allophone of /ʁ/) between voiced sounds, most often as coda before voiced consonants.
RipuarianCologniannoch ein[en][ˈnɔɣ‿ən]'another one'Allophone of word-final /x/; occurs only immediately before a word that starts with a vowel. See Colognian phonology
Kerkrade dialect[22]vroage[ˈvʀoə̯ɣə]'to ask'Occurs only after back vowels.[22]
RussianSouthernдорога[dɐˈro̞ɣə]'road'Corresponds to /ɡ/ in standard
Standardугу[ʊˈɣu]'uh-huh'Usually nasal, /g/ is used when spoken. See Russian phonology
SardinianNuorese dialectghere[ˈsuɣɛrɛ]'to suck'Allophone of /ɡ/
Scottish Gaeliclaghail[ɫ̪ɤɣal]'lawful'See Scottish Gaelic phonology
Serbo-Croatian[23]ovih bi[ǒ̞ʋiɣ bi]'of these would'Allophone of /x/ before voiced consonants.[23] See Serbo-Croatian phonology
S'gaw Karenဂ့ၤ[ɣei]'good'
Spanishamigo[a̠ˈmiɣo̟]'friend'Ranges from close fricative to approximant.[24] Allophone of /ɡ/, see Spanish phonology
SwedishWestrobothnianmeg[mɪːɣ]'me'Allophone of /ɡ/. Occurs between vowels and in word-final positions.[25] Here also /∅/ in Kalix.
Tamazightaɣilas (aghilas)[aɣilas]'leopard'
TurkishNon-standardağa[aɣa]'agha'Deleted in most dialects. See Turkish phonology
UkrainianAllophone of /x/. See Ukrainian phonology
Urduغریب[ɣəriːb]'poor'See Hindustani phonology
Uzbek[26]ёмғир / yomir[ʝɒ̜mˈʁ̟ɨɾ̪]'rain'Post-velar.[26]
Vietnamese[27]ghế[ɣe˧˥]'chair'See Vietnamese phonology
West Frisiandrage[ˈdraːɣə]'to carry'Never occurs in word-initial positions.
Central Alaskan Yup'ikauga[ˈauːɣa]'his/her/its blood'Never occurs in word-initial positions.

See also


  1. Baker, Peter Stuar (2012). Introduction to Old English (3rd ed.). p. 15. ISBN 9781444354195. OCLC 778433078 via Internet Archive. Between voiced sounds dotless g is pronounced [ɣ], a voiced velar spirant. This sound became [w] in Middle English, so English no longer has it.
  2. Such as Booij (1999) and Nowikow (2012).
  3. Watson (2002), pp. 17 and 19-20.
  4. Watson (2002), pp. 17, 19-20, 35-36 and 38.
  5. Hualde (1991), pp. 99–100.
  6. Wheeler (2005), p. 10.
  7. Verhoeven (2005:243)
  8. Collins & Mees (2003:191)
  9. Shosted & Chikovani (2006), p. 255.
  10. Krech et al. (2009:108)
  11. Sylvia Moosmüller (2007). "Vowels in Standard Austrian German: An Acoustic-Phonetic and Phonological Analysis" (PDF). p. 6. Retrieved March 9, 2013.
  12. Kachru (2006), p. 20.
  13. Pop (1938), p. 30.
  14. Okada (1999), p. 118.
  15. Gussenhoven & Aarts (1999:159)
  16. Peters (2006:119)
  17. R.E. Keller, German Dialects. Phonology and Morphology, Manchester 1960
  18. Vanvik (1979), p. 40.
  19. Cruz-Ferreira (1995), p. 92.
  20. Mateus & d'Andrade (2000), p. 11.
  21. Barbosa & Albano (2004), p. 228.
  22. Stichting Kirchröadsjer Dieksiejoneer (1997:17)
  23. Landau et al. (1999:67)
  24. Phonetic studies such as Quilis (1981) have found that Spanish voiced stops may surface as spirants with various degrees of constriction. These allophones are not limited to regular fricative articulations, but range from articulations that involve a near complete oral closure to articulations involving a degree of aperture quite close to vocalization
  25. http://runeberg.org/nfaq/0347.html
  26. Sjoberg (1963), p. 13.
  27. Thompson (1959), pp. 458–461.


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  • Booij, Geert (1999), The phonology of Dutch, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-823869-X
  • Collins, Beverley; Mees, Inger M. (2003) [First published 1981], The Phonetics of English and Dutch (PDF) (5th ed.), Leiden: Brill Publishers, ISBN 9004103406
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  • Hualde, José Ignacio (1991), Basque phonology, New York: Routledge
  • Kachru, Yamuna (2006), Hindi, John Benjamins Publishing, ISBN 90-272-3812-X
  • Krech, Eva Maria; Stock, Eberhard; Hirschfeld, Ursula; Anders, Lutz-Christian (2009), Deutsches Aussprachewörterbuch, Berlin, New York: Walter de Gruyter, ISBN 978-3-11-018202-6
  • Landau, Ernestina; Lončarić, Mijo; Horga, Damir; Škarić, Ivo (1999), "Croatian", Handbook of the International Phonetic Association: A guide to the use of the International Phonetic Alphabet, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 66–69, ISBN 0-521-65236-7
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