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
ɨ1 kɨnt kind 'child'
i dif dief 'thief'
miːr mier 'ant'
y ˈsycəs suutjes 'quietly'
myːr muur 'wall'
u buk boek 'book'
buːr boer 'farmer'
ɛ bɛt bed 'bed'
ɛː sɛː 'say'
æ2 æk ek 'I'
æː2 pæːrt perd 'horse'
œ kœs kus 'kiss'
œː rœː rûe 'backs'
ɔ bɔk bok 'goat'
ɔː sɔː sôe 'sows'
a3 kat kat 'cat'
3 kaːrt kaart 'map'
ə ˈtaːfəɫ tafel 'table'
əi3 həi hy 'he'
œi hœis huis 'house'
œu3 kœut koud 'cold'
4 broət brood 'bread'
øə4 søən seun 'son'
4 veət weet 'to know'
ai ˈbaiə baie 'many'
^1 /ɨ/ is actually a near-close central unrounded vowel [ɪ̈].[1] This article uses /ɨ/ for simplicity.
^2 [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]
^3 /a aː əi œu/ are also transcribed as /ɐ ɑː ɛi ɵu/ respectively.
^4 /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-
Palatal Velar Uvular Glottal
Nasal m (ɱ)1 n ŋ
Stop voiceless p t (c)1 k
voiced b d 2 ɡ
Fricative voiceless f s ʃ ç ~ x1
voiced v z2 ʒ ʁ3 ɦ
Trill r3 ʀ3
Approximant l ~ ɫ4 j w


^1 [ɱ], [c], [ç] and [h] are not separate phonemes in Afrikaans. [ɱ] is an allophone of /m/ and /n/ before /f/ and /v/. [c] is an allophone of /k/ occurring before /i/ and /yː/, and in diminutives ending in -djie and -tjie,[4] and [ç] is an allophone of /x/ occurring before /i/ and /eə/.[5]
^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] do occur in some southern dialects.[4]
^4 The lateral /l/ is velarized [ɫ] postvocalically, 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 ˈtaːfəɫ tafel 'table'
d dak dak 'roof'
ˈtʃɛçis Tsjeggies 'Czech'
ˈbadʒi budjie 'budgerigar'
k kat kat 'cat'
ɡ ˈsɔrɡə sorge 'cares'
m man man 'man'
n noːi nooi 'invite'
ŋ sɨŋ sing 'to sing'
f fits fiets 'bicycle'
v ˈvaːtər water 'water'
s søən seun 'son'
z ˈzulu Zoeloe 'Zulu'
ʃ ˈʃina China 'China'
ʒ viʒyːˈeəɫ visueel 'visually'
x, ç xut
r, ʁ, ʀ roːi
rooi 'red'
ɦ ɦœis huis 'house'
j ˈjiːsœs Jesus 'Jesus'
l lif lief 'dear'
ɫ ˈkaxəɫ kaggel 'fireplace'

Afrikaans devoices all obstruents at the ends of words (a final /d/ becomes /t/).[6]

See also[edit]



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