Hard and soft G in Dutch
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However, in most northern dialects, the distinction is no longer made, with both sounds pronounced as [x] or [χ]. In those dialects that merge ⟨g⟩ and ⟨ch⟩, it is still possible for some speakers to pronounce ⟨g⟩ as [ɣ] intervocallically.
In many southern dialects of Dutch, ⟨g⟩ and ⟨ch⟩ represent front-velar fricatives ([ɣ̟] and [x̟]), the so-called soft G.
- Hard ⟨g⟩ pronunciation:
- Soft ⟨g⟩ pronunciation:
|[x] / [χ] (Hard G)||[ɑxt] / [ɑχt]||acht||'eight'|
|[x̟] (Soft G)||[ɑx̟t]|
|[ɣ] / [x] / [χ] (Hard G)||[ɣaːn] / [xaːn] / [χaːn]||gaan||'to go'|
|[ɣ̟] (Soft G)||[ɣ̟aːn]|
The hard ⟨g⟩ is used primarily in the northern part of the Dutch language area in Europe:
- All of the Netherlands, except the provinces of Limburg and most parts of North Brabant, and some dialects of Gelderland and Utrecht
- Most dialects of West Flanders and East Flanders. Those dialects, both in Belgium, as well as the ones of Zeeland, realise ⟨g⟩ as [ɣ ~ ɦ], and ⟨ch⟩ as [x ~ h]. Since those dialects usually feature H-dropping as well, ⟨g⟩ does not merge with ⟨h⟩.
The soft ⟨g⟩ is used primarily in the southern part of the Dutch language area in Europe:
- The Netherlands
- The provinces of Limburg and North Brabant, except for the western part of North Brabant.
- Parts of the province of Gelderland namely the Bommelerwaard, Betuwe, the region surrounding and including Nijmegen, Land van Maas en Waal, the southern part of the Veluwe and the Achterhoek.
- The southeastern part of the province of Utrecht.
- Dutch-speaking Belgium except for most of West Flanders and East Flanders.
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