Afrikaans phonology

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For assistance with IPA transcriptions of Afrikaans for Wikipedia articles, see WP:IPA for Dutch and Afrikaans.

Afrikaans is a Germanic language and as such has a similar phonology to other Germanic languages, particularly Dutch, Frisian, English, and German. See West Germanic languages for more information.


Afrikaans has an extensive vowel inventory consisting of 14 plain vowels (not counting [ə æ æː]), and seven diphthongs.

Afrikaans Vowels[1] with Example Words
Symbol Example
Vowel IPA Orthography Gloss
ɪ̈ kɪ̈nt kind 'child'
i dif dief 'thief'
miːr mier 'ant'
y ˈsycəs suutjies 'quietly'
myːr muur 'wall'
u buk boek 'book'
buːr boer 'farmer'
ɛ bɛt bed 'bed'
ɛː sɛː 'say'
æ1 æk ek 'I'
æː1 pæːrt perd 'horse'
œ kœs kus 'kiss'
œː rœː rûe 'backs'
ɔ bɔk bok 'goat'
ɔː sɔː sôe 'sows'
a2 kat kat 'cat'
2 kaːrt kaart 'map'
ə ˈtaːfəl tafel 'table'
əi2 həi hy 'he'
œi hœis huis 'house'
œu2 kœut koud 'cold'
3 broət brood 'bread'
øə3 søən seun 'son'
3 veət weet 'to know'
ai ˈbaiə baie 'many'
^1 [æ] and [æː] are not separate phonemes in Afrikaans, but allophones of /ɛ/. [æ] is dialectal, and substitutes /ɛ/ before /k ɡ l r/, most commonly in the former Transvaal and Free State provinces.[2] [æː] is part of the standard language, and is pronounced before /rs/ /rt/ /rd/.[2]
^2 /a aː əi œu/ are also transcribed as /ɐ ɑː ɛi ɵu/ respectively.
^3 /oə øə eə/ are also transcribed as long monophthongs /oː øː eː/, though it's not accurate to do so.[3] /oə/ and /eə/ are also commonly realized as [uə] and [iə] respectively, and such pronunciation is already considered standard.[3] In Western Cape /oə eə/ can also be pronounced [uː] and [iː] respectively.[3]


  Labial Alveolar Post-
Nasal m n ŋ
Stop voiceless p t k
voiced b d 2 ɡ
Fricative voiceless f s ʃ χ1
voiced v z2 ʒ ɦ
Rhotic r3
Approximant l4 j


^1 /m/ and /n/ are labiodental [ɱ] before /f/ and /v/. /k χ/ may be somewhat more front before front vowels; the fronted allophone of /k/ also occurs in diminutives ending in -djie and -tjie.[4]
^2 Only in loanwords.
^3 /r/ is most commonly realized as the alveolar trill [r],[4] but voiced uvular fricative [ʁ] and the uvular trill [ʀ] may occur instead in some southern dialects.[4] Trilled versions may be pronounced with single contact: [ɾ], [ʀ̆].
^4 Like in American English, the lateral /l/ is velarized [ɫ] non-prevocalically, and also lightly velarized in other positions [lˠ].[4]
Afrikaans consonants with example words
Symbol Example
IPA IPA Orthography Gloss
p pɔt pot 'pot'
b bɛt bed 'bed'
t ˈtaːfəl tafel 'table'
d dak dak 'roof'
ˈtʃɛχis Tsjeggies 'Czech'
ˈbadʒi budjie 'budgerigar'
k kat kat 'cat'
ɡ ˈsɔrɡə sorge 'cares'
m man man 'man'
n noːi nooi 'invite'
ŋ sɪ̈ŋ sing 'to sing'
f fits fiets 'bicycle'
v ˈvaːtər water 'water'
s søən seun 'son'
z ˈzulu Zoeloe 'Zulu'
ʃ ˈʃina Sjina 'China'
ʒ viʒyːˈeəl visueel 'visually'
χ χut goed 'good'
r roːi rooi 'red'
ɦ ɦœis huis 'house'
j ˈjiːsœs Jesus 'Jesus'
l lif lief 'dear'

Afrikaans devoices all obstruents at the ends of words (a final /d/ becomes /t/).[5]

See also[edit]



  • Donaldson, Bruce C. (1993), A Grammar of Afrikaans, Mouton de Gruyter, pp. 1–24, ISBN 9783110134261