Voiced bilabial fricative

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Voiced bilabial fricative
IPA number 127
Entity (decimal) β
Unicode (hex) U+03B2
Kirshenbaum B
Braille ⠨ (braille pattern dots-46) ⠃ (braille pattern dots-12)
Voiced bilabial approximant

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 β, and the equivalent X-SAMPA symbol is B. The symbol β is the Greek letter beta. This symbol is also sometimes used to represent the bilabial approximant, though that is more clearly written with the lowering diacritic, β̞. The bilabial fricative is diachronically unstable and is likely to shift to [v].1 In the English language, this sound is not used, but can be made by approximating the normal "v" sound between the two lips.


Features of the voiced bilabial fricative:


In the following transcriptions, the undertack diacritic may be used to indicate an approximant [β̞].

Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Akei [βati] 'four'
Alekano hanuva [hɑnɯβɑ] 'nothing'
Amharic አበባ [aβəβa] 'flower'
Angor fufung [ɸuβuŋ] 'horn'
Basque2 alaba [alaβ̞a] 'daughter' Allophone of /b/
Berta [βɑ̀lɑ̀ːziʔ] 'no'
Catalan3 rebost [rəˈβ̞ɔst] 'larder' Allophone of /b/. See Catalan phonology
Dutch Belgian4 wang [β̞ɑŋ] 'cheek' Some dialects.4 Corresponds to [w] in standard Belgian Dutch. See Dutch phonology
Maastrichtian5 Corresponds to [ʋ] in standard Dutch. See Dutch phonology
Dahalo [koːβo] 'to want'
Ewe6 Eʋe [ɛβɛ] 'Ewe language' Contrasts with both [v] and [w]
German Austrian7 aber [ˈɑːβa] 'but' Intervocallic allophone of /b/ in casual speech. See German phonology
Japanese8 神戸市 be-shi [koːβe ɕi] 'Kobe' Allophone of /b/. Only in fast speech between vowels. See Japanese phonology
Kabyle bri [βri] 'to cut'
Occitan Gascon la-vetz [laβ̞ets] 'then' Allophone of /b/
Portuguese9 Some dialects uma bala [ˈumɐ ˈβaɫɐ] 'a bullet', 'a candy' Allophone of /b/, and phantom /v/, most common in European Portuguese.10 In Brazil, [β] can also occur in some particular contexts. See Portuguese phonology
Many dialects bado [ˈsaβɐðu] 'Saturday'
Most dialects11 abra [ˈaβɾɐ] 'open it'
Spanish12 lava [ˈläβ̞ä] 'lava' Allophone of /b/. See Spanish phonology
Turkmen watan [βatan] 'country'
Uruguayan Portuñol brabo [ˈbɾaβ̞o] 'angry' Allophone of /b/
Zapotec Tilquiapan13 example needed Allophone of /b/

See also



  • Cruz-Ferreira, Madalena (1995), "European Portuguese", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 25 (2): 90–94, doi:10.1017/S0025100300005223 
  • Gussenhoven, Carlos; Aarts, Flor (1999), "The Dialect of Maastricht", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 29 (2): 155–166, doi:10.1017/S0025100300006526 
  • Hualde, José Ignacio (1991), Basque phonology, New York: Routledge, ISBN 978-0-415-05655-7 
  • Ladefoged, Peter (2005), Vowels and Consonants (Second ed.), Blackwell 
  • Merrill, Elizabeth (2008), "Tilquiapan Zapotec", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 38 (1): 107–114, doi:10.1017/S0025100308003344 
  • 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 
  • Mateus, Maria Helena; d'Andrade, Ernesto (2000), The Phonology of Portuguese, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-823581-X 
  • Okada, Hideo (1991), "Japanese", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 21 (2): 94–97, doi:10.1017/S002510030000445X 
  • Peters, Jörg (2006), "The dialect of Hasselt", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 36 (1): 117–124, doi:10.1017/S0025100306002428 
  • Picard, Marc (1987), "On the Palatalization and Fricativization of W", International Journal of American Linguistics 53 (3): 362–365, doi:10.1086/466063 
  • Pope, Mildred (1966), From Latin to Modern French, Manchester: Manchester University Press 
  • Wheeler, Max W (2005), The Phonology Of Catalan, Oxford: Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-925814-7 

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