Voiceless glottal fricative

For consonants followed by the superscript ʰ, see Aspirated consonant.
Voiceless glottal fricative
IPA number 146
Entity (decimal) h
Unicode (hex) U+0068
Kirshenbaum h
Braille ⠓ (braille pattern dots-125)
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The voiceless glottal fricative, sometimes called voiceless glottal transition, and sometimes called the aspirate,[1][2] 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.[3]

The Lamé language contrasts voiceless and voiced glottal fricatives.[4]


Features of the "voiceless glottal fricative":


Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Adyghe Shapsug хыгь [həɡʲ] 'now' Corresponds to [x] in other dialects.
Albanian hire [hiɾɛ] 'the graces'
Arabic Standard[5] هائل [ˈhaːʔɪl] 'enormous' See Arabic phonology
Armenian Eastern[6] հայերեն  [hɑjɛɾɛn]  'Armenian'
Assyrian Neo-Aramaic haymanoota [haymaːnuːtʰa] 'faith'
Asturian guae [ˈɣwahe̞] 'child' Mainly present in eastern dialects.
Avar гьа [ha] 'oath'
Basque North-Eastern dialects[7] hirur [hiɾur] 'three' Can be voiced [ɦ] instead.
Bengali হাওয়া [hawa] 'wind'
Berber aherkus [ahǝrkus] 'shoe'
Chechen хIара hara [hɑrɐ] 'this'
Chinese Cantonese ho4 [hɔː] 'river' See Cantonese phonology
Mandarin hé [hɤ˧˥] 'river' Can be a velar fricative [x] for some speakers. See Standard Chinese phonology
Danish[4] hus [ˈhuːˀs] 'house' Often voiced [ɦ] when between vowels.[4] See Danish phonology
Dutch Northern Netherlands[8] rood [hoːt] 'red' An extremely rare realization of /r/. Realization of /r/ varies considerably among dialects. See Dutch phonology
Friesland haat [haːt] 'hate' Word-initial allophone of /ɦ/.
Holland Some dialects. Corresponds to [ɦ] in standard Dutch.
English high [haɪ̯] 'high' See English phonology and H-dropping
Esperanto hejmo [hejmo] 'home' See Esperanto phonology
Eastern Lombard Val Camonica Bresa [brɛhɔ] 'Brescia' Corresponds to /s/ in other varieties.
Faroese hon [hoːn] 'she'
Finnish hammas [hɑmːɑs] 'tooth' See Finnish phonology
French Belgian hotte [ˈhɔt] 'pannier' Found in the region of Liège. See French phonology
Georgian[9] ავა [hɑvɑ] 'climate'
German[10] Hass [has] 'hatred' See German phonology
Greek Cypriot[11] μαχαζί [mahaˈzi] 'shop' Allophone of /x/ before /a/.
Hawaiian[12] haka [haka] 'shelf' See Hawaiian phonology
Hebrew הר [haʁ] 'mountain' See Modern Hebrew phonology
Hindi Standard[5] हम [ˈhəm] 'we' See Hindustani phonology
Hmong hawm [haɨ̰] 'to honor'
Hungarian helyes [hɛjɛʃ] 'right' See Hungarian phonology
Italian Tuscan[13] i capitani [iˌhäɸiˈθäːni] 'the captains' Intervocalic allophone of /k/.[13] See Italian phonology
Japanese すはだ suhada [su͍hada] 'bare skin' See Japanese phonology
Korean 호랑이 horang-i [ho̞ɾɐŋi] 'tiger' See Korean phonology
Kabardian тхылъхэ [tχɪɬhɑ] 'books'
Lakota ho [ho] 'voice'
Lao ຫ້າ [haː˧˩] 'five'
Leonese guaje [ˈwahe̞] 'boy'
Lezgian гьек [hek] 'glue'
Limburgish Some dialects[14][15] hòs [hɔːs] 'glove' Voiced [ɦ] in other dialects. The example word is from the Weert dialect.
Luxembourgish[16] hei [hɑ̝i̯] 'here' See Luxembourgish phonology
Malay hari [hari] 'day'
Mutsun hučekniš [hut͡ʃɛkniʃ] 'dog'
Navajo hastiin [hàsd̥ìːn]
Norwegian hatt [hɑtː] 'hat' See Norwegian phonology
Pashto هو [ho] 'yes'
Persian هفت [hæft] 'seven' See Persian phonology
Pirahã hi [hì] 'he'
Portuguese Many Brazilian dialects[17] marreta [maˈhetɐ] 'sledgehammer' Allophone of /ʁ/. [h, ɦ] are marginal sounds to many speakers, particularly out of Brazil. See Portuguese phonology
Most dialects Honda [ˈhõ̞dɐ] 'Honda'
Colloquial Brazilian[18][19] chuvisco [ɕuˈvihku] 'drizzle' Corresponds to either /s/ or /ʃ/ (depending on dialect) in the syllable coda. Might also be deleted.
Romanian hăţ [həts] 'bridle' See Romanian phonology
Serbo-Croatian Croatian[20] хмељ hmelj [hmê̞ʎ̟] 'hops' Allophone of /x/ when it is initial in a consonant cluster.[20] See Serbo-Croatian phonology
Spanish[21] Andalusian higo [ˈhiɣo̞] 'fig' Corresponds to Old Spanish /h/, which was developed from Latin /f/ but muted in other dialects.
Many dialects obispo [o̞ˈβ̞ihpo̞] 'bishop' Allophone of /s/. See Spanish phonology
Some dialects jaca [ˈhaka] 'pony' Corresponds to /x/ in other dialects.
Swedish hatt [ˈhatː] 'hat' See Swedish phonology
Thai ห้า [haː˥˩] 'five'
Turkish halı [häˈɫɯ] 'carpet' See Turkish phonology
Ubykh [dwaha] 'prayer' See Ubykh phonology
Urdu Standard[5] ہم [ˈhəm] 'we' See Hindi-Urdu phonology
Vietnamese[22] hiểu [hjew˧˩˧] 'understand' See Vietnamese phonology
Welsh haul [ˈhaɨl] 'sun' See Welsh orthography
West Frisian hoeke [ˈhukə] 'corner'
Yi hxa [ha˧] 'hundred'

See also



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  • 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 
  • Gilles, Peter; Trouvain, Jürgen (2013), "Luxembourgish" (PDF), Journal of the International Phonetic Association, 43 (1): 67–74, doi:10.1017/S0025100312000278 
  • Grønnum, Nina (2005), Fonetik og fonologi, Almen og Dansk (3rd ed.), Copenhagen: Akademisk Forlag, ISBN 87-500-3865-6 
  • 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. 
  • Heijmans, Linda; Gussenhoven, Carlos (1998), "The Dutch dialect of Weert" (PDF), Journal of the International Phonetic Association, 28: 107–112, doi:10.1017/S0025100300006307 
  • Hualde, José Ignacio; Ortiz de Urbina, Jon, eds. (2003), A grammar of Basque, Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, ISBN 3-11-017683-1 
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  • 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. 
  • 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 
  • 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 
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  • 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 
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