Voiced velar fricative

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Voiced velar fricative
IPA number 141
Entity (decimal) ɣ
Unicode (hex) U+0263
Kirshenbaum Q
Braille ⠨ (braille pattern dots-46) ⠛ (braille pattern dots-1245)

The voiced velar fricative is a type of consonantal sound, used in various spoken languages. It is not found in English today, but did exist in Old English. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is ɣ, a Latinized variant of the Greek letter gamma, γ, which has this sound in Modern Greek. It should not be confused with the graphically similar ɤ, the IPA symbol for a close-mid back unrounded vowel. The symbol ɣ is also sometimes used to represent the velar approximant, though that is more accurately written with the lowering diacritic: [ɣ̞] or [ɣ˕]. The IPA also provides a dedicated symbol for a velar approximant, [ɰ], though there can be stylistic reasons to not use it in phonetic transcription.


Features of the voiced velar fricative:


Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Abaza бгъьы [bɣʲǝ] 'leaf'
Adyghe Адыгэ [aːdəɣa] 'adyghe'
Alekano gamó [ɣɑmɤʔ] 'cucumber'
Aleut agiitalix [aɣiːtalix] 'with'
Angor ranihı [ɾɑniɣə] 'brother'
Angas γür [ɣyr] 'to pick up'
Arabic Modern Standard غرفة [ˈɣurfɐ] 'room' May be post-velar or uvular depending on dialect. See Arabic phonology
Asturian gadañu [ɣaˈd̪ãɲʊ] 'scythe' Allophone of /ɡ/ in almost all positions.
Azerbaijani ağac [ɑɣɑd͡ʒ] 'tree'
Basque1 hego [heɣo] 'wing' Allophone of /ɡ/.
Catalan2 figuera [fiˈɣeɾə] 'fig tree' Allophone of /ɡ/. See Catalan phonology
Chechen гӀала / ġala [ɣaːla] 'town'
Dawsahak  ? [zoɣ] 'war'
Dinka ɣo [ɣo] 'us'
Dutch Some dialects gaan [ɣaːn] 'to go' More common in northern dialects.3 See Dutch phonology
Standard Netherlandic
Netherlandic liegen [ˈliɣə(n)] 'to lie' Intervocallic allophone of χ ~ x, written g. Present in many dialects. See Dutch phonology
Georgian4 არიბი [ɣɑribi] 'poor' May actually be post-velar or uvular
German Austrian5 hege [ˈheːɣe] 'I take care' Intervocallic allophone of /ɡ/ in casual speech. See German phonology
Ghari cheghe [tʃeɣe] 'five'
Greek γάλα gála [ˈɣala] 'milk' See Modern Greek phonology
Gujarati વા [ʋɑ̤̈ɣəɽ̃] 'tigress' See Gujarati phonology
Gweno [ndeɣe] 'bird'
Gwich’in videeghàn [viteːɣân] 'his her chest'
Haitian Creole diri [diɣi] 'rice'
Hän dëgëghor [təkəɣor] 'I am playing'
Hebrew Yemenite מגדּל [miɣdʌl] 'tower' See Modern Hebrew phonology
Hindi ग़रीब [ɣəriːb] 'poor' See Hindi-Urdu phonology
Icelandic saga [ˈsaːɣaː] 'saga' See Icelandic phonology
Irish dhorn [ɣoːɾˠn̪ˠ] 'fist' See Irish phonology
Iwaidja [mulaɣa] 'hermit crab'
Japanese6 はげ hage [haɣe] 'baldness' Allophone of /ɡ/, especially in fast or casual speech. See Japanese phonology
Kabardian гын [ɣən] 'powder'
Lithuanian humoras [ˈɣʊmɔrɐs̪] 'humour' Preferred over [ɦ]. See Lithuanian phonology
Macedonian Bukovo accent глава [ˈɡɣa(v)a] 'head' Allophone of /l/ instead of usual ɫ. See Prilep-Bitola dialect
Berovo accent дувна [ˈduɣna] 'it blew' Corresponds to etymological /x/ of other dialects, before sonorants. See Maleševo-Pirin dialect and Macedonian phonology
Navajo ’aghá [ʔaɣa] 'best'
Ngwe Mmockngie dialect [nøɣə̀] 'sun'
Occitan Gascon digoc [diˈɣuk] 'said (3sg.)'
Pashto غاتر [ɣɑtər] 'mule'
Persian حقیقت [hæɣiːˈɢæt] 'truth' See Persian phonology
Polish niechże [ˈɲeɣʐɛ] 'let [intensified]' (imperative particle) Allophone of /x/ before voiced consonants. See Polish phonology
Portuguese European7 agora [əˈɣɔɾə] 'now' Allophone of /ɡ/, mainly in European Portuguese.8 In Brazil, this lenition can also occur in some particular contexts. See Portuguese phonology
Some Brazilian dialects9 amiga [ɐˈmiɣə] 'friend' (f.)
Some Brazilian dialects10 rmore [ˈmaɣmuɾi] 'marble', 'sill' Allophone of rhotic consonant (voiced equivalent to [x], itself allophone of /ʁ/) between voiced sounds, most often as coda before voiced consonants.
Northern Qiang  ? [ɣnəʂ] 'February'
Romani Lithuanian γoines [ɣoines] 'good'
Russian Southern дорога [dɐˈro̞ɣa] 'a way' Corresponds to /ɡ/ in other dialects.
Standard Господи [ˈɣospədʲɪ] 'Lord'
Occurs in interjections, some religious (stylized as Old Church Slavonic) words, and as an allophone of /x/ before voiced consonants. See Russian phonology.
Sardinian Nuorese dialect ghere [ˈsuɣɛrɛ] 'to suck' Allophone of /ɡ/
Scottish Gaelic laghail [ɫ̪ɤɣal] 'lawful' See Scottish Gaelic phonology
Sindhi غم [ɣəmʊ] 'sadness'
Spanish amigo [aˈmiɣo] 'friend' Allophone of /ɡ/. See Spanish phonology
Swahili ghali [ɣali] 'expensive'
Tajik ғафс [ɣafs] 'thick'
Tamazight aɣilas (aghilas) [aɣilas] 'leopard'
Turkish ağa [aɣa] 'agha' Deleted in most dialects. See Turkish phonology
Tutchone Northern ihghú [ihɣǔ] 'tooth'
Southern ghra [ɣra] 'baby'
Ukrainian голос [ˈɣolos] 'voice, vote' Appears in some dialects. Used as common as 'ɦ'. See Ukrainian phonology
Urdu غریب [ɣəriːb] 'poor' See Hindi-Urdu phonology
Vietnamese11 ghế [ɣe˧˥] 'chair' See Vietnamese phonology
West Frisian drage [ˈdraːɣə] 'to carry' Never occurs in word-initial positions.
Yi we [ɣɤ˧] 'win'

Voiced front-velar fricative


The voiced front-velar (prevelar) fricative is a fricative consonant occurring in Belgian Dutch. The sound, the so-called 'soft g', is sometimes - erroneously - described as a voiced palatal fricative. It would however be correct to consider the sound a voiced post-palatal fricative.


Features of the voiceless velar fricative:

  • Its manner of articulation is fricative, which means it is produced by constricting air flow through a narrow channel at the place of articulation, causing turbulence.
  • Its place of articulation is front-velar, which means it is articulated with the back of the tongue raised between the hard and the soft palate.
  • Its phonation is voiced, which means the vocal cords vibrate during the articulation.
  • It is an oral consonant, which means air is allowed to escape through the mouth only.
  • It is a central consonant, which means it is produced by directing the airstream along the center of the tongue, rather than to the sides.
  • 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
Dutch Belgian geld [ɣ̟ɛl̪t̪] 'money' See Dutch phonology

See also


  1. ^ Hualde (1991:99–100)
  2. ^ Wheeler (2005:10)
  3. ^ Pieter van Reenen; Nanette Huijs (2000). "De harde en de zachte g, de spelling gh versus g voor voorklinker in het veertiende-eeuwse Middelnederlands.". Taal en Tongval, 52(Thema nr.), 159–181 (in Dutch). Retrieved 2009-05-04. 
  4. ^ Shosted & Chikovani (2006:255)
  5. ^ Sylvia Moosmüller (2007). "Vowels in Standard Austrian German: An Acoustic-Phonetic and Phonological Analysis". p. 6. Retrieved March 9, 2013. 
  6. ^ Okada (1991:95)
  7. ^ Cruz-Ferreira (1995:92)
  8. ^ Mateus & d'Andrade (2000:11)
  9. ^ Fernando Sérgio – a friendly advice In this radio recording, at 0:11, standard for the programme – that was changed with the presenter, now Heleno Rotay, and still got a similar pronunciation – it is possible to hear that at least in the dialect of Rio de Janeiro (again, at 0:12, now in natural prosody) there is lenition at this position.
  10. ^ Barbosa & Albano (2004:228)
  11. ^ Thompson (1959:458–461)


  • Barbosa, Plínio A.; Albano, Eleonora C. (2004), "Brazilian Portuguese", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 34 (2): 227–232, doi:10.1017/S0025100304001756 
  • Cruz-Ferreira, Madalena (1995), "European Portuguese", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 25 (2): 90–94, doi:10.1017/S0025100300005223 
  • Hualde, José Ignacio (1991), Basque phonology, New York: Routledge 
  • 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 
  • Shosted, Ryan K.; Chikovani, Vakhtang (2006), "Standard Georgian", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 36 (2): 255–264, doi:10.1017/S0025100306002659 
  • Thompson, Laurence (1959), "Saigon phonemics", Language 35 (3): 454–476, doi:10.2307/411232, JSTOR 411232 
  • Wheeler, Max W (2005), The Phonology Of Catalan, Oxford: Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-925814-7 

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