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.

Vowels[edit]

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]

Consonants[edit]

  Labial Alveolar Post-
alveolar
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

Notes:

^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
çeəɫ
goed
geel
'good'
'yellow'
r, ʁ, ʀ roːi
ʁoːi
ʀoːi
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]

References[edit]

Bibliography[edit]

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