Voiceless labial–velar fricative

The voiceless labial–velar fricative is a type of consonantal sound, used in spoken languages. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is ⟨ʍ⟩.

Voiceless labial–velar fricative
IPA Number169
Entity (decimal)ʍ
Unicode (hex)U+028D
Braille⠖ (braille pattern dots-235)⠺ (braille pattern dots-2456)
Audio sample

Some linguists posit voiceless approximants distinct from voiceless fricatives. To them, English /ʍ/ is an approximant [w̥], a labialized glottal fricative [hʷ] or an [hw] sequence, not a velar fricative,[1] though Scots /ʍ/ has been described as a velar fricative,[2] especially in older Scots, where it was [xw].[3] Other linguists believe that a "voiceless approximant" is a contradiction in terms, and so [w̥] must be the same as [xʷ]. Ladefoged and Maddieson were unable to confirm that any language has fricatives produced at two places of articulation, like labial and velar.[4] They conclude that "if it is a fricative, it is better described as a voiceless labialized velar fricative".[5]


Features of the voiceless labial–velar fricative:


Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
English Conservative Received Pronunciation[6] whine [ʍaɪ̯n] 'whine' English /ʍ/ is generally an approximant or an [hw] sequence, not a velar fricative.[1][contradictory] In General American[7] and New Zealand English[8] only some speakers maintain a distinction with /w/; in Europe, mostly heard in Irish and Scottish accents.[6] See English phonology and phonological history of wh.
Cultivated South African[9]
Conservative General American[7]
Irish[9][10] [ʍʌɪ̯n]
Southern American[13] [ʍäːn]
New Zealand[8][11][14] [ʍɑe̯n]
Hupa[15] wha [hʷa] 'sun' Non-velar like English wh
xwe꞉y [xʷeːj] 'his property' Voiceless labialized velar fricative
Kham Gamale Kham ह्वा [ʍɐ] 'tooth' Described as an approximant.[16]
Scots older pronunciation whine [xwaɪ̯n][3] 'whine' A semivowel in standard modern Scots. Northern dialects have [f] instead.
Slovene[17][18] vse [ˈʍsɛ] 'everything' Allophone of /ʋ/ in the syllable onset before voiceless consonants, in free variation with a vowel [u]. Voiced [w] before voiced consonants.[17][18] See Slovene phonology
Washo Wáʔi [ˈxʷaʔi] or [ˈw̥aʔi] 'he's the one who's doing it' variously described as a labialized velar fricative or a voiceless approximant

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b Ladefoged (2006), p. 68.
  2. ^ International Phonetic Association (1999), p. 22.
  3. ^ a b Johnston (1997), pp. 499, 510.
  4. ^ Ladefoged & Maddieson (1996), pp. 330–2.
  5. ^ Ladefoged & Maddieson (1996), p. 326.
  6. ^ a b "Received Pronunciation Phonology".
  7. ^ a b Rogers (2000), p. 120.
  8. ^ a b Rogers (2000), p. 117.
  9. ^ a b c Lass (2002), p. 121.
  10. ^ Wells (1982), p. 432.
  11. ^ a b McMahon (2002), p. 31.
  12. ^ Wells (1982), p. 408.
  13. ^ Labov, Ash & Boberg (2006).
  14. ^ Wells (1982), p. 610.
  15. ^ Golla, Victor (1996). "Hupa Language Dictionary Second Edition". Retrieved Oct 31, 2021.
  16. ^ Wilde (2016).
  17. ^ a b Šuštaršič, Komar & Petek (1999), p. 136.
  18. ^ a b Greenberg (2006), p. 18.


External linksEdit