Voiceless Glottal Fricative
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Voiceless Glottal Fricative
Voiceless glottal fricative
IPA Number146
Entity (decimal)h
Unicode (hex)U+0068
Braille? (braille pattern dots-125)
Audio sample

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 as well as the height and backness of a prototypical vowel:

[h and ?] 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 ? 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]

Lamé contrasts voiceless and voiced glottal fricatives.[4]


Features of the "voiceless glottal fricative":

  • 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 in the languages they are familiar with, many phoneticians[who?] no longer consider [h] to be a fricative. However, the term "fricative" is generally retained for historical reasons.
  • It may have a glottal place of articulation. However, it may have no fricative articulation, in which case the term 'glottal' only refers to the nature of its phonation, and does not describe the location of the stricture nor the turbulence. 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 [h], and [h] has sometimes been presented as a voiceless vowel, having the place of articulation of these surrounding vowels.
  • Its phonation is voiceless, which means it is produced without vibrations of the vocal cords. In some languages the vocal cords are actively separated, so it is always voiceless; in others the cords are lax, so that it may take on the voicing of adjacent sounds.
  • 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 central-lateral dichotomy does not apply.
  • The airstream mechanism is pulmonic, which means it is articulated by pushing air solely with the lungs and diaphragm, as in most sounds.


Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Adyghe Shapsug ?/khyg' [h] 'now' Corresponds to [x] in other dialects.
Albanian hire [hi][stress?] 'the graces'
Arabic Modern Standard[5] ?‎/haa'il ['ha:l] 'enormous' See Arabic phonology
Assyrian Eastern ? hèman?ta [he:ma:nu:ta] 'faith'
Western ? harcë [h?rc?] 'here'
Armenian Eastern[6] ?/hayeren 'Armenian'
Asturian South-central dialects ?uerza ['hwe] 'force' F- becomes [h] before -ue/-ui in some south-central dialects. May be also realized as [?, ?, ?, x, ?]
Oriental dialects ?acer [ha'?e?] "to do" F- becomes [h] in oriental dialects. May be also realized as [?, ?, ?, x, ?]
Avar ? [ha] 'oath'
Azeri hin [h?n] 'chicken coop'
Basque North-Eastern dialects[7] hirur [hi?ur] 'three' Can be voiced instead.
Bengali ?/haoua [hao?a] 'wind'
Berber aherkus [ah?rkus] 'shoe'
Cantabrian mu?er [mu'he?] 'woman' F- becomes [h]. In most dialects, -LJ- and -C'L- too. May be also realized as [?, ?, ?, x, ?]
Chechen / hara [h?r?] 'this'
Chinese Cantonese ? / hói 'sea' See Cantonese phonology
Taiwanese Mandarin ? / h?i A velar fricative [x] for Standard Chinese. See Standard Chinese phonology
Danish[4] hus ['hu:?s] 'house' Often voiced when between vowels.[4] See Danish phonology
English high [ha] 'high' See English phonology and H-dropping
Esperanto hejmo ['hejmo] 'home' See Esperanto phonology
Eastern Lombard Val Camonica Bresa ['br?ha] 'Brescia' Corresponds to /s/ in other varieties.
Estonian hammas ['h?ms] 'tooth' See Estonian phonology
Faroese hon [ho:n] 'she'
Finnish hammas ['h?m:?s] 'tooth' See Finnish phonology
French Belgian hotte [h?t] 'pannier' Found in the region of Liège. See French phonology
Galician Occidental, central, and some oriental dialects gato ['hät?] 'cat' Realization of [g] in some dialects. May be also realized as

[?, ?, x, ?, ?, ]. See gheada.

Georgian[8] ?/hava [h?v?] 'climate'
German[9] Hass [has] 'hatred' See Standard German phonology
Greek Cypriot[10] ?/mahazi [maha'zi] 'shop' Allophone of /x/ before /a/.
Hawaiian[11] haka ['h?k?] 'shelf' See Hawaiian phonology
Hebrew ‎/har [hä] 'mountain' See Modern Hebrew phonology
Hindi Standard[5] /ham ['h?m] 'we' See Hindustani phonology
Hmong hawm [ha] 'to honor'
Hungarian helyes ['h?j] 'right' See Hungarian phonology
Irish shroich [hç] 'reached' Appears as the lenited form of 'f', 's' and 't', as well as occasionally word-initial as 'h' in borrowed words. See Irish phonology.
Italian Tuscan[12] i capitani [i?hä?i'?ä:ni] 'the captains' Intervocalic allophone of /k/.[12] See Italian phonology
Japanese / suhada [shada] 'bare skin' See Japanese phonology
Javanese /Maha [m?h?] The expert, Almighty one
Korean / haru [hu] 'day' See Korean phonology
Kabardian ??/ tkhyl"kh? [th?] 'books'
Lakota ho [ho] 'voice'
Lao /haa [ha:] 'five'
Leonese guaje ['wahe?] 'boy'
Lezgian /g'ek [hek] 'glue'
Limburgish Some dialects[13][14] hòs [h?:s] 'glove' Voiced in other dialects. The example word is from the Weert dialect.
Luxembourgish[15] hei [h?] 'here' See Luxembourgish phonology
Malay hari [hari] 'day'
Mutsun hu?ekni? [hutkni?] 'dog'
Navajo hastiin [hàsd?ì:n] 'mister'
Norwegian hatt [h?t:] 'hat' See Norwegian phonology
Pashto ‎/ho [ho] 'yes'
Persian ‎/haft [hæft] 'seven' See Persian phonology
Pirahã hi [hì] 'he'
Portuguese Many Brazilian dialects[16] marreta [ma'het?] 'sledgehammer' Allophone of /?/. [h, ?] are marginal sounds to many speakers, particularly out of Brazil. See Portuguese phonology
Most dialects Honda ['hõ?d?] 'Honda'
Minas Gerais (mountain dialect) arte ['aht?] 'art'
Colloquial Brazilian[17][18] chuvisco [?u'vihku] 'drizzle' Corresponds to either /s/ or /?/ (depending on dialect) in the syllable coda. Might also be deleted.
Romanian h [h?ts] 'bridle' See Romanian phonology
Scottish Gaelic ro-sheòl ['h?:?] 'topsail'[19] Lenited form of /t/, /s/, see Scottish Gaelic phonology
Serbo-Croatian Croatian[20] hmelj [hmê] 'hops' Allophone of /x/ when it is initial in a consonant cluster.[20] See Serbo-Croatian phonology
Spanish[21] Andalusian and Extremaduran Spanish higo ['hi?o?] 'fig' Corresponds to Old Spanish /h/, which was developed from Latin /f/ but muted in other dialects.
Many dialects obispo [o?'ihpo?] 'bishop' Allophone of /s/ at the end of a syllable. See Spanish phonology
Some dialects jaca ['haka] 'pony' Corresponds to /x/ in other dialects.
Swedish hatt ['hat:] 'hat' See Swedish phonology
Sylheti /hamukh [hamux] 'snail'
Thai /haa [ha:] 'five'
Turkish hal? [hä'] 'carpet' See Turkish phonology
Ubykh [dwaha] 'prayer' See Ubykh phonology
Ukrainian ? ['kihti] 'claws' Sometimes when is devoiced. See Ukrainian phonology
Urdu Standard[5] ‎/ham ['h?m] 'we' See Hindi-Urdu phonology
Vietnamese[22] hi?u [hjew] 'understand' See Vietnamese phonology
Welsh haul ['ha?l] 'sun' See Welsh orthography
West Frisian hoeke ['huk?] 'corner'
Yi ? / hxa [ha?] 'hundred'

See also


  1. ^ Smyth (1920, §16: description of stops and h)
  2. ^ Wright & Wright (1925, §7h: initial h)
  3. ^ Ladefoged & Maddieson (1996:325-326)
  4. ^ a b c Grønnum (2005:125)
  5. ^ a b c Thelwall (1990:38)
  6. ^ Dum-Tragut (2009:13)
  7. ^ Hualde & Ortiz de Urbina (2003:24)
  8. ^ Shosted & Chikovani (2006:255)
  9. ^ Kohler (1999:86-87)
  10. ^ Arvaniti (1999:175)
  11. ^ Ladefoged (2005:139)
  12. ^ a b Hall (1944:75)
  13. ^ Heijmans & Gussenhoven (1998:107)
  14. ^ Peters (2006:117)
  15. ^ Gilles & Trouvain (2013:67-68)
  16. ^ Barbosa & Albano (2004:5-6)
  17. ^ (in Portuguese) Pará Federal University - The pronunciation of /s/ and its variations across Bragança municipality's Portuguese
  18. ^ (in Portuguese) Rio de Janeiro Federal University - The variation of post-vocallic /S/ in the speech of Petrópolis, Itaperuna and Paraty
  19. ^ "ro-sheòl". www.faclair.com. Retrieved 2021.
  20. ^ a b Landau et al. (1999:68)
  21. ^ Martínez-Celdrán, Fernández-Planas & Carrera-Sabaté (2003:258)
  22. ^ Thompson (1959:458-461)


External links

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