Voiced bilabial fricative

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Voiced bilabial fricative
IPA number 127
Entity (decimal) β
Unicode (hex) U+03B2
Kirshenbaum B
Braille ⠨ (braille pattern dots-46) ⠃ (braille pattern dots-12)
Voiced bilabial approximant

The voiced bilabial fricative is a type of consonantal sound, used in some spoken languages. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is β (or more properly ), and the equivalent X-SAMPA symbol is B. The symbol β is the Greek letter beta. This symbol is also sometimes used to represent the bilabial approximant, though that is more clearly written with the lowering diacritic, β̞. The bilabial fricative is diachronically unstable and is likely to shift to [v].[1] In the English language, this sound is not used, but can be made by approximating the normal "v" sound between the two lips.


Features of the voiced bilabial fricative:


In the following transcriptions, the undertack diacritic may be used to indicate an approximant [β̞].

Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Akei [βati] 'four'
Alekano hanuva [hɑnɯβɑ] 'nothing'
Amharic[2] አበባ [aβ̞əβ̞a] 'flower' Allophone of /b/ medially between sonorants.[2]
Angor fufung [ɸuβuŋ] 'horn'
Basque[3] alaba [alaβ̞a] 'daughter' Allophone of /b/
Berta [βɑ̀lɑ̀ːziʔ] 'no'
Catalan[4] rebost [rəˈβ̞ɔst] 'larder' Allophone of /b/. See Catalan phonology
Chinese Fuzhou[5] [example needed] Allophone of /p/ and /pʰ/ in certain intervocalic positions.[5]
Dahalo [koːβo] 'to want'
English Chicano very [βɛɹi] 'very' May be realized as [b] instead.
Ewe[6] Eʋe [ɛβɛ] 'Ewe language' Contrasts with both [v] and [w]
German[7][8] aber [ˈaːβɐ] 'but' Intervocalic and pre-lateral allophone of /b/ in casual speech.[7][8] See German phonology
Hopi tsivot [tsi:βot] 'five'
Japanese[9] 神戸市/be-shi [ko̞ːβ̞e̞ ɕi] 'Kobe' Allophone of /b/ only in fast speech between vowels. See Japanese phonology
Kabyle bri [βri] 'to cut'
Kinyarwanda abana [aβana] 'children'
Limburgish[10][11][12][13] [ˈβ̞ɛlə] 'to want' The example word is from the Maastrichtian dialect.
Occitan Gascon la-vetz [laβ̞ets] 'then' Allophone of /b/
Portuguese European[14][15] bado [ˈsaβɐðu] 'Saturday' Allophone of /b/. See Portuguese phonology
Ripuarian Colognian[citation needed] wing [βɪŋ] 'wine' Allophone of syllable-initial /v/ for some speakers; can be [ʋ ~ w ~ ɰ] instead.[citation needed] See Colognian phonology
Kerkrade dialect[16] sjwaam [ʃβ̞aːm] [translation needed] Weakly rounded; contrasts with /v/.[16]
Sardinian Logudorese dialect[17] paba About this sound [ˈpäːβä]  'Pope' Intervocalic allophone of /b/ as well as word-initial /p/ when the preceding word ends with a vowel and there is no pause between the words.[17]
Spanish[18] lava [ˈläβ̞ä] 'lava' Allophone of /b/. See Spanish phonology
Swedish Central Standard[19] aber [ˈɑːβ̞eɾ] 'problem' Allophone of /b/ in casual speech. See Swedish phonology
Turkmen watan [βatan] 'country'
West Frisian[20] twa [tβ̞aː] 'two' Allophone of /ʋ/ after /t, d, k, s/.[20] See West Frisian phonology
Zapotec Tilquiapan[21] [example needed] Allophone of /b/

See also[edit]



  • Cruz-Ferreira, Madalena (1995), "European Portuguese", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 25 (2): 90–94, doi:10.1017/S0025100300005223 
  • Engstrand, Olle (2004), Fonetikens grunder (in Swedish), Lund: Studenlitteratur, ISBN 91-44-04238-8 
  • Gussenhoven, Carlos; Aarts, Flor (1999), "The dialect of Maastricht" (PDF), Journal of the International Phonetic Association (University of Nijmegen, Centre for Language Studies) 29: 155–166, doi:10.1017/S0025100300006526 
  • Hayward, Katrina; Hayward, Richard J. (1999), "Amharic", Handbook of the International Phonetic Association: A guide to the use of the International Phonetic Alphabet, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 45–50, doi:10.1017/S0025100300004874, ISBN 0-521-65236-7 
  • Heijmans, Linda; Gussenhoven, Carlos (1998), "The Dutch dialect of Weert" (PDF), Journal of the International Phonetic Association 28: 107–112, doi:10.1017/S0025100300006307 
  • Hualde, José Ignacio (1991), Basque phonology, New York: Routledge, ISBN 978-0-415-05655-7 
  • Krech, Eva Maria; Stock, Eberhard; Hirschfeld, Ursula; Anders, Lutz-Christian (2009), Deutsches Aussprachewörterbuch, Berlin, New York: Walter de Gruyter, ISBN 978-3-11-018202-6 
  • Ladefoged, Peter (2005), Vowels and Consonants (Second ed.), Blackwell 
  • Merrill, Elizabeth (2008), "Tilquiapan Zapotec", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 38 (1): 107–114, doi:10.1017/S0025100308003344 
  • Martínez-Celdrán, Eugenio; Fernández-Planas, Ana Ma.; Carrera-Sabaté, Josefina (2003), "Castilian Spanish", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 33 (2): 255–259, doi:10.1017/S0025100303001373 
  • Mateus, Maria Helena; d'Andrade, Ernesto (2000), The Phonology of Portuguese, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-823581-X 
  • Okada, Hideo (1991), "Japanese", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 21 (2): 94–97, doi:10.1017/S002510030000445X 
  • Peters, Jörg (2006), "The dialect of Hasselt", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 36 (1): 117–124, doi:10.1017/S0025100306002428 
  • Picard, Marc (1987), "On the Palatalization and Fricativization of W", International Journal of American Linguistics 53 (3): 362–365, doi:10.1086/466063 
  • Pope, Mildred (1966), From Latin to Modern French, Manchester: Manchester University Press 
  • Sipma, Pieter (1913), Phonology & grammar of modern West Frisian, London: Oxford University Press 
  • Stichting Kirchröadsjer Dieksiejoneer (1997) [1987], Kirchröadsjer Dieksiejoneer (2nd ed.), Kerkrade: Stichting Kirchröadsjer Dieksiejoneer, ISBN 90-70246-34-1 
  • Verhoeven, Jo (2007), "The Belgian Limburg dialect of Hamont", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 37 (2): 219–225, doi:10.1017/S0025100307002940 
  • Wheeler, Max W (2005), The Phonology Of Catalan, Oxford: Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-925814-7 
  • Zhuqing, Li (2002), Fuzhou Phonology and Grammar, Springfield, VA: Dunwoody Press, ISBN 9781881265931