Voiced pharyngeal fricative

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Voiced pharyngeal fricative
IPA number 145
Entity (decimal) ʕ
Unicode (hex) U+0295
Kirshenbaum H<vcd>
Braille ⠖ (braille pattern dots-235) ⠆ (braille pattern dots-23)
Voiced pharyngeal approximant

The voiced pharyngeal approximant or fricative is a type of consonantal sound, used in some spoken languages. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is [ʕ], and the equivalent X-SAMPA symbol is ?\. Epiglottals and epiglotto-pharyngeals are often mistakenly taken to be pharyngeal.

Although traditionally placed in the fricative row of the IPA chart, [ʕ] is usually an approximant. The IPA symbol itself is ambiguous, but no language is known to make a phonemic distinction between fricatives and approximants at this place of articulation. The approximant is sometimes specified as [ʕ̞] or as [ɑ̯].


Features of the voiced pharyngeal approximant fricative:


Pharyngeal consonants are not widespread. Sometimes, a pharyngeal approximant develops from a uvular approximant. Many languages that have been described as having pharyngeal fricatives or approximants turn out on closer inspection to have epiglottal consonants instead. For example, the candidate /ʕ/ sound in Arabic and standard Hebrew (not modern Hebrew – Israelis of eastern European background generally pronounce this as a glottal stop) has been variously described as a voiced epiglottal fricative, an epiglottal approximant,[1] or a pharyngealized glottal stop.[2]

Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Abaza гӀапынхъамыз [ʕaːpənqaːməz] 'March'
Arabic Egyptian عامود [ʕæˈmuːd] 'column' See Egyptian Arabic phonology
Assyrian Neo-Aramaic tar'a [tər'ʕɑː] 'door' Only upheld in educated and religious speech. /ʕ/ is dropped by the majority of the speakers, who will utter the word as [tərɑː].
Avar гӀоркь [ʕortɬʼː] 'handle'
Berber Kabyle[3] ɛemmi [ʕəmːi] 'my (paternal) uncle'
Chechen Ӏан / jan About this sound [ʕan]  'winter'
Danish Standard[4] ravn [ʕ̞ɑʊ̯ˀn] 'raven' An approximant;[4] also described as uvular [ʁ].[5] See Danish phonology
Dutch Limburg[6] rad [ʕ̞ɑt] 'wheel' An approximant.[6] Realization of /r/ varies considerably among dialects. See Dutch phonology
German Swabian[7] ändard [ˈend̥aʕ̞d̥] 'changes' An approximant.[7] It's an allophone of /ʁ/ in nucleus and coda positions;[7] pronounced as a uvular approximant in onsets.[7]
Hebrew Iraqi עברית [ʕibˈriːθ] 'Hebrew language' See Modern Hebrew phonology
Sephardi About this sound [ʕivˈɾit] 
Yemenite About this sound [ʕivˈriːθ] 
Kurdish ewr [ʕæwr] 'cloud' Both Sorani and Kurmanji dialects have this sound.
Marshallese enana [ɛ̯ɛnæ͡ɑʕnæ͡ɑʕ] 'it is bad' See Marshallese phonology
Occitan southern Auvergnat pala [ˈpaʕa] 'shovel' See Occitan phonology
Portuguese Fluminense armando [ɐʕˈmɜ̃du] 'arming' In free variation with [ɣ], [ʁ] and [ɦ], before voiced consonants. Does not occur in onset position. See Portuguese phonology
Somali caadi About this sound [ʕaːdi]  'normal' See Somali phonology
Sioux Stoney marazhud [maʕazud] 'rain'
Syriac Turoyo ܐܰܪܥܳܐ [arʕo] 'Earth' Tends to be absent from Eastern Syriac varieties.
Ukrainian[8] гора [ʕoˈrɑ] 'mountain' Also described as [ɦ]. See Ukrainian phonology

See also


  1. Ladefoged & Maddieson (1996:167–168)
  2. Thelwall (1990)
  3. Bonafont (2006:9)
  4. 4.0 4.1 Ladefoged & Maddieson (1996:323)
  5. Basbøll (2005:62)
  6. 6.0 6.1 Collins & Mees (2003:201) Note that authors do not specify the area where this sound is used and whether it is confined to Dutch or Belgian Limburg, or it is used in both areas.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 Markus Hiller. "Pharyngeals and "lax" vowel quality" (PDF). Mannheim: Institut für Deutsche Sprache.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Danyenko & Vakulenko (1995:12)