Voiced epiglottal fricative

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Voiced epiglottal fricative
IPA number 174
Entity (decimal) ʢ
Unicode (hex) U+02A2
Braille ⠔ (braille pattern dots-35) ⠆ (braille pattern dots-23)
Voiced epiglottal approximant

The voiced epiglottal fricative or approximant is a type of consonantal sound, used in some spoken languages. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is ʢ.

Although traditionally placed in the fricative row of the IPA chart, ʢ is usually an approximant. The IPA symbol itself is ambiguous, but no language has a distinct fricative and approximant at this place of articulation. Sometimes the lowering diacritic is used to specify that the manner is approximant: ʢ̞.

Few languages distinguish between pharyngeal and epiglottal fricatives, and in fact the fricatives in Arabic are routinely described as "pharyngeal". However, according to Peter Ladefoged, the Aghul spoken in the village of Burkikhan, Dagestan has both (as well as an epiglottal stop).


Features of the voiced epiglottal approximant/fricative:

  • Its manner of articulation varies between approximant and fricative, which means it is produced by narrowing the vocal tract at the place of articulation, but generally not enough to produce much turbulence in the airstream. Languages do not distinguish voiced fricatives from approximants produced in the throat.
  • Its place of articulation is epiglottal, which means it is articulated with the aryepiglottic folds against the epiglottis.
  • Its phonation is voiced, which means the vocal cords vibrate during the articulation. However, in some languages, such as Swiss German, it can just mean that this consonant is pronounced shorter and weaker than its voiceless counterpart, while its voicedness or lack thereof is not relevant. In such cases it's more accurate to call such sounds lenis or lax.
  • It is an oral consonant, which means air is allowed to escape through the mouth only.
  • Because the sound is not produced with airflow over the tongue, the centrallateral dichotomy does not apply.
  • 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
Arabic Some dialects[1] [example needed] Corresponds to /ʕ/ () in Standard Arabic and other varieties. See Arabic phonology
German Swabian[2] endara [ˈendaʢ̞ə] 'to change' An approximant.[2] It's an allophone of /ʁ/ in nucleus and coda positions;[2] pronounced as a uvular approximant in onsets.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ladefoged & Maddieson (1996:167–168)
  2. ^ a b c d Markus Hiller. "Pharyngeals and "lax" vowel quality". Mannheim: Institut für Deutsche Sprache.