Afrikaans has an extensive vowel inventory consisting of 17 monophthong phonemes (including 7 marginal ones) and 7 diphthong phonemes.
- As phonemes, /iː/ and /uː/ occur only in the words spieël /spiːl/ 'mirror' and koeël /kuːl/ 'bullet', which used to be pronounced with sequences /i.ə/ and /u.ə/, respectively. In other cases, they occur as allophones of /i/ and /u/ before /r/.
- /ɨ, ɨː/ (phonetically [ɨ̞, ɨ̞ː]) are higher than the unstressed [ə] allophone of /ɨ/ and /ɛ/. Donaldson (1993) transcribes them as /ɪ̈, ɪ̈ː/, but this article uses /ɨ, ɨː/ for simplicity. Many scholars transcribe them as /ə, əː/.
- /ɨː/ occurs only in the word wîe /ˈvɨːɛ/ 'wedges'.
- /y/ tends to be merged with /i/ into [i].
- /y/ is lengthened to [yː] before /r/.
- /u/ is weakly rounded, and could be more narrowly transcribed as [u̜] or [ɯ̹]. For this reason, it is sometimes transcribed /ɯ/.
- /ɛ/ contrasts with /ɛː/ only in the minimal pair pers /pɛrs/ 'press' – pers /pɛːrs/ 'purple'.
- Before the sequences /rt, rd, rs/, the /ɛ–ɛː/ and /ɔ–ɔː/ contrasts are neutralized in favour of the long variants /ɛː/ and /ɔː/, respectively.
- The schwa [ə] occurs as an allophone of unstressed /ɨ/ and /ɛ/. In some words, such as vanaand /fɐˈnɑːnt/ 'this morning', /ɐ/ is also realized as schwa [ə].
- Many speakers merge /œ/ with /ɨ/ into [ɨ̞].
- /œː, ɔː/ occur only in a few words.
- As a phoneme, /æ/ occurs only in some loanwords from English, such as pêl /pæl/ 'pal', as well as in some words such as vertrek /fərˈtræk/ 'departure'. It also occurs as a dialectal allophone of /ɛ/ before /k, χ, l, r/, most commonly in the former Transvaal and Free State provinces.
- As a phoneme, /æː/ occurs only in some loanwords from English (such as grênd [græːnt] 'grand'), as well as before /k/ in some words. It also occurs as an allophone of /ɛː/ before /r/ and the sequences /rs, rt, rd/.
- /ɐ, ɑː/ are sometimes transcribed with simpler symbols /a, aː/, but the former set of symbols is phonetically correct.
- In the former Transvaal province, /ɑː/ is realized as rounded [ɒː]. In extreme cases, this sound may be as high as [ɔː].[Does the [ɔː] realization of /ɑː/ merge with /ɔː/?]
- In some words, such as hamer, short /ɐ/ is in free variation with long /ɑː/, despite the fact that the spelling suggests the latter vowel. In some words, such as laat, the pronunciation with short /ɐ/ occurs only in the colloquial language. In some other words, such as aambeeld /ˈɐmbeəlt/ 'anvil', the pronunciation with short /ɐ/ is already a part of the standard language.
In some instances of the sequence /Vns/ (where ⟨V⟩ stands for 'vowel'), /n/ is realized as nasalization (and lengthening, if the vowel is short) of the preceding vowel. This nasalization is stronger in some speakers than others, but there also are speakers that retain the [n] and keep the original length of the preceding vowel.
- The sequence /ɐns/ in words such as dans is realized as [ɑ̃ːs]. In monosyllabic words, this realization is the norm.
- The sequence /ɑːns/ in more common words (such as Afrikaans) is realized as either [ɑ̃ːs] or [ɑːns]. In less common words (such as Italiaans) [ɑːns] is the usual pronunciation.
- The sequence /ɛns/ in words such as mens is realized as [ɛ̃ːs].
- The sequence /œns/ in words such as guns is more often realized as [œns] than [œ̃ːs]. For speakers with the /œ–ɨ/ merger, these transcriptions are to be read as [ɨ̞ns] and [ɨ̞̃ːs], respectively.
- The sequence /ɔns/ in words such as spons is realized as [ɔ̃ːs].
|Starting point||Ending point|
|Rounded||œi, ɔi||øə, oə||œu|
- The scholar Daan Wissing argues that /əi/ is not a phonetically correct transcription, and that /æɛ/ is more accurate. In his analysis, he found that [æɛ] makes for 65% of the realizations, while the other 35% of realizations were monophthongal, namely [ə], [æ] and [ɛ].
- /eə, oə/ may be realized in four ways:
- Falling diphthongs [eə̯, oə̯]. Sometimes the first element is somewhat lengthened: [eˑə̯, oˑə̯].
- Rising diphthongs [e̯ə, o̯ə]. These variants don't seem to appear word-finally. The sequence /ɦoə/ is commonly realized as [ɦo̯ə] or, more often [o̯̤ə̤], with /ɦ/ realized as breathy voice on the diphthong.
- Indeterminate diphthongs [eə, oə], which may occur in all environments.
- Monophthongs, either short [e, o] or somewhat lengthened [eˑ, oˑ]. The monophthongal realizations occur in less stressed words, as well as in stressed syllables in words that have more than one syllable. In the latter case, they are in free variation with all of the three diphthongal realizations. In case of /oə/, the monophthongal [o] also appears in unstressed word-final syllables.
- The diphthongal realizations may have a close onset: [iə, uə].
- There is not a complete agreement about the dialectal realization of /eə, oə/ in the Boland area:
- There is not a complete agreement about the realization of /øə/ in standard language:
- According to Donaldson (1993), it is realized as [øə]. Its onset is sometimes unrounded, which can cause it to merge with /eə/.
- According to Lass (1987), /øə/ is realized as either rising [ë̯ø] or falling [ëø̯], with the former realization being the most common. The monophthongal realization [ø] is very rare or doesn't occur at all.
- Most often, /œi/ has an unrounded offset. For some speakers, the onset is also unrounded. That can cause /œi/ to merge with /əi/, which is considered non-standard.
- /ɔi, ɐi/ occur mainly in loanwords.
The long diphthongs (or 'double vowels') are phonemically sequences of a free vowel and a non-syllabic equivalent of /i/ or /u/. They are [ɑːi̯, oːi̯, ui̯, (eu̯), iu̯]. [eu̯] tends to merge with [iu̯], but they are always spelled differently: the former as ⟨eeu⟩, the latter as ⟨ieu⟩.
In diminutives of monosyllabic nouns ending in /ki/, the vowels /ɐ, ɑː, ɛ, eə, ɨ, ɔ, oə, u, œ/ (but not when /ɑː/ is followed by /t/) are realized as closing diphthongs [ɐi̯, ɑːi̯, ɛi̯, ɨi̯, ɔi̯, oi̯, ui̯, œi̯]. In the same environment, the sequences /ɐn, ɛn, ɨn, ɔn, œn/ are realized as [ɐi̯ɲ, ɛi̯ɲ, ɨi̯ɲ, ɔi̯ɲ, œi̯ɲ], i.e. as closing diphthongs followed by palatal nasal. Note that the diphthong [ɨi̯] in practice is realized the same as the phonemic diphthong /əi/.
- All obstruents at the ends of words are devoiced (a final /d/ becomes /t/).
- /p, t, k, tʃ/ are unaspirated.
- According to some authors, /v/ is actually an approximant [ʋ].
- /k/ may be somewhat more front before front vowels; the fronted allophone of /k/ also occurs in diminutives ending in -djie and -tjie.
- /dʒ, z/ occur only in loanwords.
- /χ/ is most often uvular, either a fricative, [χ] or a voiceless trill [ʀ̥] - the latter especially in initial position before a stressed vowel. Many speakers of White South African English realize the marginal English phoneme /x/ as uvular [χ]. In Afrikaans, velar [x] may be used in a few "hyper-posh" varieties, and it may also rarely occur as an allophone before front vowels in speakers with otherwise uvular /χ/.
- /χ/ is realized as a voiced velar stop [ɡ] in some environments.
- /m/ and /n/ assimilate their articulation to a following obstruent in many cases:
- /l/ is velarized [ɫ] in all positions. This is especially noticeable non-prevocalically.
- /r/ is most commonly realized as the alveolar trill [r], but voiced uvular fricative [ʁ] and the uvular trill [ʀ] may occur instead in some southern dialects. Trilled versions may be pronounced with single contact: [ɾ], [ʀ̆].
- Donaldson (1993), pp. 2–7.
- Donaldson (1993), pp. 4–6.
- Donaldson (1993), p. 4.
- Donaldson (1993), pp. 4 and 6.
- Donaldson (1993), p. 7.
- Donaldson (1993), p. 5.
- Donaldson (1993), pp. 5–6.
- Donaldson (1993), p. 3.
- Donaldson (1993), pp. 3 and 7.
- For example by Donaldson (1993).
- Lass (1984), pp. 76, 93–94 and 105.
- Donaldson (1993), pp. 6–7.
- Donaldson (1993), p. 6.
- Donaldson (1993), pp. 3 and 5.
- Collins & Mees (2003), p. 71.
- Donaldson (1993), pp. 2 and 8–10.
- Wissing (2009), p. 333.
- Lass (1987), pp. 117–119.
- Donaldson (1993), p. 8.
- Cited in Lass (1987:117–118). The preview on Google Books makes it unclear whether De Villiers' book is "Afrikaanse klankleer. Fonetiek, fonologie en woordbou" or "Nederlands en Afrikaans", as both are cited at the end of Lass's chapter.
- Lass (1987), p. 118.
- Donaldson (1993), pp. 8–9.
- Lass (1987), p. 117.
- Donaldson (1993), p. 10.
- Donaldson (1993), p. 12.
- Donaldson (1993), pp. 10–11.
- Donaldson (1993), p. 11.
- Donaldson (1993), pp. 13–15.
- Donaldson (1993), pp. 14–16.
- For example Den Besten (2012).
- Den Besten (2012).
- Donaldson (1993), p. 15.
- "John Wells's phonetic blog: velar or uvular?". 5 December 2011. Retrieved 12 February 2015. Only this source mentions the trilled realization.
- Bowerman (2004:939): "White South African English is one of very few varieties to have a velar fricative phoneme /x/ (see Lass (2002:120)), but this is only in words borrowed from Afrikaans (...) and Khoisan (...). Many speakers use the Afrikaans uvular fricative [χ] rather than the velar."
- Donaldson (1993), pp. 13–14.
- Bowerman, Sean (2004), "White South African English: phonology", in Schneider, Edgar W.; Burridge, Kate; Kortmann, Bernd; Mesthrie, Rajend; Upton, Clive, A handbook of varieties of English, 1: Phonology, Mouton de Gruyter, pp. 931–942, ISBN 3-11-017532-0
- Collins, Beverley; Mees, Inger M. (2003), The Phonetics of English and Dutch, Fifth Revised Edition (PDF), ISBN 9004103406
- Den Besten, Hans (2012), "Speculations of [χ]-elision and intersonorantic [ʋ] in Afrikaans", in van der Wouden, Ton, Roots of Afrikaans: Selected Writings of Hans Den Besten, John Benjamins Publishing Company, pp. 79–93, ISBN 978-90-272-5267-8
- Donaldson, Bruce C. (1993), A Grammar of Afrikaans, Mouton de Gruyter, ISBN 9783110134261
- Lass, Roger (1984), "Vowel System Universals and Typology: Prologue to Theory", Phonology Yearbook (Cambridge University Press) 1: 75–111, doi:10.1017/S0952675700000300, JSTOR 4615383
- Lass, Roger (1987), "Intradiphthongal Dependencies", in Anderson, John; Durand, Jaques, Explorations in Dependency Phonology, Dordrecht: Foris Publications Holland, pp. 109–131, ISBN 9067652970
- Lass, Roger (2002), "South African English", in Mesthrie, Rajend, Language in South Africa, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 9780521791052
- Wissing, Daan (2009) , "Die Afrikaanse diftong /E+/: 'n Eksperimentele ondersoek", Southern African Linguistics and Applied Language Studies (Taylor & Francis Group) 23 (3): 319–334, doi:10.2989/16073610509486393
- Canepari, Luciano; Cerini, Marco (2013), Dutch & Afrikaans Pronunciation & Accents (1st ed.), Rome: Aracne, ISBN 978-8854867307
- Combrink, J.G.H.; De Stadler, L.G. (1987), Afrikaanse Fonologie, Johannesburg: Macmillan South Africa
- Le Roux, Thomas Hugo; de Villiers Pienaar, Pierre (1928), Afrikaanse Fonetiek, Cape Town
- Le Roux, Thomas Hugo; de Villiers Pienaar, Pierre (1950), Uitspraakwoordeboek van Afrikaans, J.L. van Schaik, ISBN 978-8716066497
- Odendal, F. (1989), "Afrikaanse fonetiek", in Botha, T.J.R., Language in South Africa, Pretoria and Cape Town: Academica, ISBN 9780868743516
- Prinsloo, Claude Pierre (2000), A comparative acoustic analysis of the long vowels and diphthongs of Afrikaans and South African English (PDF), Pretoria: University of Pretoria
- van der Merwe, A.; Groenewald, E.; van Aardt, D.; Tesner, H. E.C.; Grimbeek, R. J. (2012) , "The formant patterns of Afrikaans vowels as produced by male speakers", South African Journal of Linguistics (Taylor & Francis Group) 11 (2): 71–79, doi:10.1080/10118063.1993.9723910
- van Wyk, E. B.; Odendal, F. F.; Nkatini, N. L. (2012) , "Comparison between the phonetic systems of Afrikaans and Tsonga", South African Journal of Linguistics (Taylor & Francis Group) 7 (1): 38–45, doi:10.1080/10118063.1989.9723787
- Wissing, Daan (1982), Algemene en Afrikaanse Generatiewe Fonologie, Macmillan South Africa, ISBN 9780869541098
- Wissing, Daan; Martens, J.P.; Goedertier, W.; Janke, U. (2004), Proceedings of the 4th International Conference on Language Resources and Evaluation: A spoken Afrikaans language resource designed for research on pronunciation variations, Lisbon
- Wissing, Daan (2012), "Akoestiese analise van die vokale van ’n groep bejaarde Afrikaanse vroue", LitNet Akademies 9, ISSN 1995-5928