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Voiceless pharyngeal fricative
IPA number 144
Entity (decimal) ħ
Unicode (hex) U+0127
Kirshenbaum H
Braille ⠖ (braille pattern dots-235) ⠓ (braille pattern dots-125)

The voiceless pharyngeal fricative is a type of consonantal sound, used in some spoken languages. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is h-bar, ħ. Epiglottals and epiglotto-pharyngeals are often mistakenly taken to be pharyngeal.


Features of the voiceless pharyngeal fricative:


This sound is the most commonly cited realization of the Semitic letter hēth, which occurs in all dialects of Arabic, Classical Syriac, as well as Biblical and Tiberian Hebrew but not modern Hebrew. It has also been reconstructed as appearing in Ancient Egyptian, a related Afro-Asiatic language. Modern non-Oriental Hebrew has merged the voiceless pharyngeal fricative with the voiceless velar (or uvular) fricative. However, phonetic studies have shown that the so-called voiceless pharyngeal fricatives of Semitic languages are often neither pharyngeal (but rather epiglottal) nor fricatives (but rather approximants).[2]

Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Abaza хIахъвы [ħaqʷǝ] 'stone'
Abkhaz ҳара [ħaˈra] 'we' See Abkhaz phonology
Adyghe тхьэ [tħa] 'god'
Agul ? [muħ] 'barn'
Arabic Standard[3] حال About this sound [ħaːl]  'situation' See Arabic phonology
Archi хIал [ħaːl] 'good'
Avar xIебецI [ħeˈbetsʼ] 'earwax'
Berber Kabyle aeffaf [aħəffaf] 'hairdresser'
Chechen ач / About this sound [ħatʃ]  'plum'
Finnish hti [tæħti] 'star' Allophone of /h/ in complementary distribution.
Galician[4] Some dialects ghato [ˈħato] 'cat' Corresponds to /ɡ/ in other dialects. See gheada
Hebrew חַשְׁמַל About this sound [ħaʃˈmal]  'electricity' Oriental dialects only. See Modern Hebrew phonology
Kabardian кхъохь About this sound [q͡χʷaħ]  'ship'
Kurdish Some speakers hol About this sound [ħol]  'environment' Corresponds to /h/ in most Kurdish dialects
Maltese Standard wieħed [wiħːet] 'one'
Nuu-chah-nulth ʔaap-ii [ʔaːpˈħiː] 'friendly'
Portuguese Fluminense marca [ˈmaħkɐ] 'mark', 'trait' In free variation with [x], [χ], [ʁ ~ ʀ] and [h] before voiceless consonants.[citation needed]
General Brazilian rocha [ˈħɔɕɐ] 'rock' Some dialects, corresponds to rhotic consonant /ʁ/.[citation needed] See Portuguese phonology
Sioux Nakota [haħdanahã] 'yesterday'
Somali xood About this sound [ħoːd]  'cane' See Somali phonology
Syriac Chaldean Neo-Aramaic ܡܫܝܼܚܵܐ [mʃiːħa] 'christ'
Ukrainian[5] нігті [ˈnʲiħtʲi] 'fingernails' Allophone of /ʕ/ (which may be transcribed /ɦ/) before voiceless consonants;[5] can be fronted to [x] in some "weak positions".[5] See Ukrainian phonology

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Laufer, Asher, and I. D. Condax. 1979. The epiglottis as an articulator. UCLA Working Papers in Phonetics 45:60-83.
  2. ^ Ladefoged & Maddieson (1996:167–168)
  3. ^ Watson (2002:19)
  4. ^ Regueira (1996:120)
  5. ^ a b c Danyenko & Vakulenko (1995:12)


  • Danyenko, Andrii; Vakulenko, Serhii (1995), Ukrainian, Lincom Europa, ISBN 9783929075083 
  • Ladefoged, Peter; Maddieson, Ian (1996), The sounds of the World's Languages, Oxford: Blackwell, ISBN 0-631-19815-6 
  • Regueira, Xose (1996), "Galician", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 26 (2): 119–122 
  • Watson, Janet (2002), The Phonology and Morphology of Arabic, New York: Oxford University Press 

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