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'.
- The schwa [ə] occurs as an allophone of unstressed /ɨ/ and /ɛ/.
- 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, ɡ, 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 /ɛ/ before sequences /rs, rt, rd/, as well as an allophone of /ɛː/ before /r/.
- /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/?]
Standard Afrikaans does not have a phonemic distinction between oral and nasalized vowels. However, 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 /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].
- The centering diphthongs /eə, øə, oə/ are often incorrectly transcribed as monophthongs /eː, øː, oː/. In standard Afrikaans, they are centering diphthongs, and /eə, oə/ may have a close onset: [iə, uə].
- In Boland, /eə, oə/ are realized as close monophthongs [iː, uː].
- The onset of /øə/ is sometimes unrounded, which can cause it to merge with /eə/.
- 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.
- All obstruents at the ends of words are devoiced (a final /d/ becomes /t/).
- /p, t, tʃ, k/ are unaspirated.
- /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), pp. 2 and 8–10.
- Wissing (2009), p. 333.
- Donaldson (1993), p. 8.
- Donaldson (1993), pp. 8–9.
- Donaldson (1993), p. 10.
- Donaldson (1993), pp. 13–15.
- Donaldson (1993), pp. 14–16.
- Donaldson (1993), p. 15.
- "John Wells's phonetic blog: velar or uvular?". 5 December 2011. Retrieved 12 February 2015.
- 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
- 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 (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
- 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