Voiceless labio-velar approximant

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Voiceless labio-velar approximant
IPA number 169
Entity (decimal) ʍ
Unicode (hex) U+028D
Kirshenbaum w<vls>

The voiceless labiovelar (labialized velar) approximant (traditionally called a voiceless labiovelar fricative) is a type of consonantal sound, used in some languages. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is ʍ (a rotated lowercase letter w) or .

[ʍ] is generally called a "fricative" for historical reasons, but in English, the language that the letter ʍ is primarily used for, it is a voiceless approximant, equivalent to [w̥] or [hw̥]. On rare occasions the symbol is appropriated for a labialized voiceless velar fricative, [xʷ], in other languages.


Features of the voiceless labial-velar approximant:


Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Cornish whath, hwath [ʍæːθ] 'still', 'yet' Is spelled wh and hw in the Standard Written Form, as wh in Kernowek Standard, Unified Cornish, Unified Cornish Revised and Modern Cornish, and hw in Kernewek Kemmyn.
English Hiberno-English[1] whine [ʍʌɪn] 'whine' Phonemically /hw/. Contrasts with /w/. See English phonology and phonological history of wh
Scottish English[2]
American Southern dialects[3] [ʍäːn]
Canadian Maritime
[citation needed]
Cultivated SAE
[citation needed]
Older speakers. Most people have merged it into /w/.
New Zealand
[citation needed]
Hupa tł'iwh [t͡ɬʼiʍ] 'snake', 'rattlesnake' Contrasts with /w/.
Nahuatl Cuauhtēmallān [kʷaʍteːmalːaːn] 'Guatemala' Allophone of /w/ before voiceless consonants.

See also[edit]



  • Labov, William; Ash, Sharon; Boberg, Charles (2006), The Atlas of North American English, Berlin: Mouton-de Gruyter, ISBN 3-11-016746-8 
  • Wells, J.C. (1982), Accents of English, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press