Voiced Bilabial Fricative
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Voiced Bilabial Fricative
Voiced bilabial fricative
IPA Number127
Entity (decimal)β​ꞵ
Unicode (hex)U+03B2 U+A7B5
Braille? (braille pattern dots-46)? (braille pattern dots-12)
Audio sample
Voiced bilabial approximant
Audio sample

The voiced bilabial fricative is a type of consonantal sound, used in some spoken languages. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is ⟨?⟩, and the equivalent X-SAMPA symbol is B. The official symbol ⟨?⟩ is the Greek letter beta, though on the IPA chart the Latin beta?⟩ is used.

This letter is also often used to represent the bilabial approximant, though that is more precisely written with a lowering diacritic, that is ⟨⟩. That sound may also be transcribed as an advanced labiodental approximant⟩, in which case the diacritic is again frequently omitted, since no contrast is likely.[1][2] It has been proposed that either a turned ??? or reversed ??? be used as a dedicated symbol for the bilabial approximant, but despite occasional usage this has not gained general acceptance.[3]

It is extremely rare for a language to make a phonemic contrast between the voiced bilabial fricative and the bilabial approximant. The Mapos Buang language of New Guinea contains this contrast. Its bilabial approximant is analyzed as filling a phonological gap in the labiovelar series of the consonant system rather than the bilabial series.[4]

The bilabial fricative is diachronically unstable[clarify] and is likely to shift to [v].[5]

The sound is not used in English dialects except for Chicano English, but it can be produced by approximating the normal English [v] between the lips.


Features of the voiced bilabial fricative:


Voiced bilabial fricative

Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Akei [?ati] 'four'
Alekano hanuva [h?n] 'nothing'
Angor fufung [?u?u?] 'horn'
Bengali [?isa] 'Visa' Allophone of /b?/. See Bengali phonology
Berta [l:zi?] 'no'
Catalan[6] abans [?'?ans] 'before' Approximant or fricative. Allophone of /b/. Mainly found in betacist (/b/ and /v/ merging) dialects. See Catalan phonology
Min Dong Chinese Fuzhou[7] ??
ch báik
[t?soeai] 'eighth day of the month' Allophone of /p/ and /p?/ in certain intervocalic positions.[7]
Wu Chinese Chuansha
ve tze
[?e?ts] 'bowl' Usually [v] in other Wu Chinese dialects[8]
Comorian upvendza [u?endza] 'to love' Contrasts with both [v] and [w]
Dahalo[9] [ko:?o] 'to want' Weak fricative or approximant. It is a common intervocalic allophone of /b/, and may be simply a plosive instead.[9]
English Chicano very [i] 'very' May be realized as instead.
Ewe[10] E?e [è?e] 'Ewe' Contrasts with both [v] and [w]
German[11][12] aber ['a:] 'but' Intervocalic and pre-lateral allophone of /b/ in casual speech.[11][12] See Standard German phonology
Hebrew ['ä'?al] 'however'
Hopi tsivot [tsi:?ot] 'five'
Kabyle bri [?ri] 'to cut'
Kinyarwanda abana [a?a:na] 'children'
Korean ??/chuhu/?? ['tuu] 'later' Allophone of /h/. See Korean phonology
Luhya Wanga Dialect Nabongo [na?on?o] 'title for a king'
Mapos Buang[4] ven?évsën ['ten] 'prayer' Mapos Buang has both a voiced bilabial fricative and a bilabial approximant as separate phonemes. The fricative is transcribed as ⟨v⟩, and the approximant as ⟨w⟩.[4]
Nepali ? [sä] 'Meeting' Allophone of /b?/. See Nepali phonology
Portuguese European[13][14] bado ['saðu] 'Saturday' Allophone of /b/. See Portuguese phonology
Ripuarian Colognian[] wing [] 'wine' Allophone of syllable-initial /v/ for some speakers; can be [? ~ w ~ ?] instead.[] See Colognian phonology
Sardinian Logudorese dialect[15] paba 'pope' Intervocalic allophone of /b/ as well as word-initial /p/ when the preceding word ends with a vowel and there is no pause between the words.[15]
Turkish[16] vücut [?y?'dut?] 'body' Allophone of /v/ before and after rounded vowels.[16] See Turkish phonology
Turkmen watan [?atan] 'country'
Zapotec Tilquiapan[17] [example needed] Allophone of /b/

Bilabial approximant

Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Amharic[18] [aa] 'flower' Allophone of /b/ medially between sonorants.[18]
Basque[19] alaba [alaa] 'daughter' Allophone of /b/
Catalan[20] abans [?'ans] 'before' Approximant or fricative. Allophone of /b/. Mainly found in betacist (/b/ and /v/ merging) dialects. See Catalan phonology
Japanese[21] /k?be-shi [ko?:e? ?i] 'Kobe' Allophone of /b/ only in fast speech between vowels. See Japanese phonology
Limburgish[22][23] wèlle ['?l?] 'to want' The example word is from the Maastrichtian dialect.
Lombard el nava via [el 'naa 'ia] 'he was going away' Regular pronunciation of /v/ when intervocalic. Used also as an allophone for other positions.
Mapos Buang[4] wabeen? [a'?b?:?] 'kind of yam' Mapos Buang has both a voiced bilabial fricative and a bilabial approximant as separate phonemes. The fricative is transcribed as {v}, and the approximant as {w}.[4]
Occitan Gascon la-vetz [la'ets] 'then' Allophone of /b/
Ripuarian Kerkrade[24] sjwaam [a:m] 'smoke' Weakly rounded; contrasts with /v/.[24] See Kerkrade dialect phonology
Spanish[25] lava ['lää] 'lava' Ranges from close fricative to approximant.[26] Allophone of /b/. See Spanish phonology
Swedish Central Standard[27] aber ['?:e?] 'problem' Allophone of /b/ in casual speech. See Swedish phonology
Ukrainian[28] ? [o'n?] 'she' An approximant; the most common prevocalic realization of /w/. Can vary with labiodental .[28] See Ukrainian phonology

See also


  1. ^ Peter Ladefoged (1968) A Phonetic Study of West African Languages: An Auditory-instrumental Survey, p. 26.
  2. ^ Joyce Thambole Mogatse Mathangwane (1996), Phonetics and Phonology of Ikalanga: A Diachronic and Synchronic Study, vol. 1, p. 79
  3. ^ Ball, Martin J.; Howard, Sara J.; Miller, Kirk (2018). "Revisions to the extIPA chart". Journal of the International Phonetic Association. 48 (2): 155-164. doi:10.1017/S0025100317000147.
  4. ^ a b c d e Mose Lung Rambok and Bruce Hooley (2010). Central Buang-English Dictionary (PDF). Summer Institute of Linguistics Papua New Guinea Branch. ISBN 978-9980-0-3589-9.
  5. ^ Picard (1987:364), citing Pope (1966:92)
  6. ^ Wheeler (2005:10)
  7. ^ a b Zhuqing (2002:?)
  8. ^ Zhao, Yuan Ren (1928). ? "Study on Modern Wu Chinese". . ISBN 9787100086202.
  9. ^ a b Maddieson et al. (1993:34)
  10. ^ Ladefoged (2005:156)
  11. ^ a b Krech et al. (2009:108)
  12. ^ a b Sylvia Moosmüller (2007). "Vowels in Standard Austrian German: An Acoustic-Phonetic and Phonological Analysis" (PDF). p. 6. Retrieved 2013.. This source mentions only intervocalic [?].
  13. ^ Cruz-Ferreira (1995:92)
  14. ^ Mateus & d'Andrade (2000:11)
  15. ^ a b (Italian) http://www.antoninurubattu.it/rubattu/grammatica-sarda-italiano-sardo.html Archived 2015-01-01 at the Wayback Machine
  16. ^ a b Göksel & Kerslake (2005:6)
  17. ^ Merrill (2008:109)
  18. ^ a b Hayward & Hayward (1999:48)
  19. ^ Hualde (1991:99-100)
  20. ^ Wheeler (2005:10)
  21. ^ Okada (1999:118)
  22. ^ Gussenhoven & Aarts (1999:155)
  23. ^ Peters (2006:117)
  24. ^ a b Stichting Kirchröadsjer Dieksiejoneer (1997:17)
  25. ^ Martínez-Celdrán, Fernández-Planas & Carrera-Sabaté (2003:257)
  26. ^ 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
  27. ^ Engstrand (2004:167)
  28. ^ a b ?ovtobrjux & Kulyk (1965:121-122)


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External links

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