Voiceless glottal fricative

Voiceless glottal fricative
IPA Number146
Audio sample
Entity (decimal)h
Unicode (hex)U+0068
Braille⠓ (braille pattern dots-125)
Voiceless glottal approximant
Audio sample
Braille⠓ (braille pattern dots-125)⠣ (braille pattern dots-126)

The voiceless glottal fricative, sometimes called voiceless glottal transition or the aspirate,[1][2] is a type of sound used in some spoken languages that patterns like a fricative or approximant consonant phonologically, but often lacks the usual phonetic characteristics of a consonant. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is h, and the equivalent X-SAMPA symbol is h. However, [h] has been described as a voiceless vowel because in many languages, it lacks the place and manner of articulation of a prototypical consonant, as well as the height and backness of a prototypical vowel:

[h and ɦ] have been described as voiceless or breathy voiced counterparts of the vowels that follow them [but] the shape of the vocal tract [...] is often simply that of the surrounding sounds. [...] Accordingly, in such cases it is more appropriate to regard h and ɦ as segments that have only a laryngeal specification, and are unmarked for all other features. There are other languages [such as Hebrew and Arabic] which show a more definite displacement of the formant frequencies for h, suggesting it has a [glottal] constriction associated with its production.[3]

An effort undertaken at the Kiel Convention in 1989 attempted to move glottal fricatives, both voiceless and voiced, to approximants.[4][5] Also the approximant may be represented by the same symbol or ɦ̥.

  1. ^ Smyth (1920, §16: description of stops and h)
  2. ^ Wright & Wright (1925, §7h: initial h)
  3. ^ Ladefoged & Maddieson (1996:325–326)
  4. ^ Ladefoged (1990), p. 24–25.
  5. ^ Garellek et al. (2021).

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