Voiced pharyngeal fricative

The voiced pharyngeal approximant/fricative is a type of consonantal sound, used in some spoken languages. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents it is ʕ, and the equivalent X-SAMPA symbol is ?.

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 has a distinct fricative and approximant at this place of articulation.


Features of the voiced pharyngeal approximant/fricative:


Pharyngeal consonants are not widespread. Many languages claiming to have 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 (Israelis of eastern European background generally pronounce this as a glottal stop) has been variously described as a voiced epiglottal fricative, an epiglottal approximant, or a pharyngealized glottal stop.

Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Avar гIоркь [ʕortɬʼː] 'handle'
Chechen Iан/jan [ʕan] 'winter'
Hebrew עִבְרִית [ʕivˈɾit] 'Hebrew language' Sephardic pronunciation. See Hebrew phonology
Kabyle ɛemmi [ʕəmmi] 'my (paternal) uncle '
Kurdish ewr [ʕɑwr] 'cloud' Kurmanji dialect
Occitan southern Auvergnat pala [ˈpaʕa] 'shovel'
Somali caadi [ʕaːdi] 'cane'
Sioux Nakota ? [maʕazud] 'rain'
argues that Arabic descriptions of a voiced pharyngeal fricative are incorrect and that Arabic varieties instead possess a pharyngealized glottal stop ([ʔˤ]. An epiglottal fricative has also been reported.

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