Hard and soft G in Dutch

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For the usage in other languages, see Hard and soft G.

In the Dutch language the terminology hard and soft g (Dutch: harde en zachte G) refers to not only a phonological phenomenon of the pronunciation of the letters g and ch but also indicates a major isogloss within the language. In the northern part of the European Dutch language area, these letters represent velar ([ɣ] and [x], respectively) or uvular fricatives [χ], the so-called hard G. However, in most northern dialects the distinction is not made anymore, and both sounds are pronounced either as [x] or [χ]. In dialects that merge g and ch it's still possible, at least for some speakers, to pronounce g as [ɣ] intervocallically. In many southern dialects of the European Dutch language area, g and ch represent front-velar fricatives ([ɣ̟] and [x̟]), the so-called soft G.

Pronunciation[edit]

Overview[edit]

Examples[edit]

Symbol Example
IPA orthography Gloss
[x] / [χ] (Hard G) [ɑxt] / [ɑχt] acht 'eight'
[x̟] (Soft G) [ɑx̟t̪]
[ɣ] / [x] / [χ] (Hard G) [ɣaːn] / [xaːn] / [χaːn] gaan 'to go'
[ɣ̟] (Soft G) [ɣ̟aːn̪]

Geographical distribution[edit]

The hard g is primarily used in the northern part of the Dutch language area in Europe, namely:

The soft g is primarily used in the southern part of the Dutch language area in Europe namely:

  • The Netherlands
  • Dutch-speaking Belgium, excluding most dialects of West Flanders and East Flanders.

See also[edit]