Voiceless labialized velar approximant

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Voiceless labialized velar approximant
IPA number 169
Entity (decimal) ʍ
Unicode (hex) U+028D
Kirshenbaum w<vls>
Braille ⠖ (braille pattern dots-235) ⠺ (braille pattern dots-2456)

The voiceless labialized velar (labiovelar) approximant (traditionally called a voiceless labiovelar fricative) is a type of consonantal sound, used in spoken languages. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is ʍ (a rotated lowercase letter w) or .

[ʍ] is generally called a "fricative" for historical reasons, but in English, the language that the letter ʍ is primarily used for, it is a voiceless approximant, equivalent to [w̥] or [hw̥]. On rare occasions the symbol is appropriated for a labialized voiceless velar fricative, [xʷ], in other languages.


Features of the voiceless labial-velar approximant:


Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Chinese Taiwanese Hokkien 沃花/ak-hue [ʔak̚˥ʔ ʍeː˥˥] '(to) water flowers'
Cornish whath/hwath [ʍæːθ] 'yet'
English American Theater Standard[1] whine [ʍaɪ̯n] 'whine' Phonemically /hw/; contrasts with /w/. In General American[2] and New Zealand English[3][4] only some speakers maintain the distinction; in Britain, mostly heard in Irish and Scottish accents.[5] See English phonology and phonological history of wh.
Conservative Received Pronunciation[5]
Cultivated South African[6]
General American[2][7]
Irish[6][8][9] [ʍʌɪ̯n]
Southern American[13] [ʍäːn]
New Zealand[3][4][10][14] [ʍɑe̯n]
Hupa tł'iwh [t͡ɬʼiʍ] 'snake' Contrasts with /w/
Italian Tuscan[15] la qualifica [lä ʍäˈliːfihä] 'the qualification' Intervocalic allophone of /kw/. See Italian phonology
Nahuatl Cuauhtēmallān [kʷaʍteːmalːaːn] 'Guatemala' Allophone of /w/ before voiceless consonants
Slovene[16][17] vse [ˈʍsɛ] 'everything' Allophone of /ʋ/ in the syllable onset before voiceless consonants, in free variation with a vowel [u]. Voiced [w] before voiced consonants.[16][17] See Slovene phonology

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Skinner (1990), p. 335.
  2. ^ a b Rogers (2000), p. 120.
  3. ^ a b Rogers (2000), p. 117.
  4. ^ a b "Australian English and New Zealand English" (PDF). p. 9. Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 April 2014. 
  5. ^ a b "Received Pronunciation Phonology". 
  6. ^ a b c Lass (2002), p. 121.
  7. ^ "North American English: General Accents" (PDF). p. 6. Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 April 2014. 
  8. ^ Wells (1982a), p. 432.
  9. ^ "Irish English and Ulster English" (PDF). pp. 4 and 7. Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 April 2014. 
  10. ^ a b McMahon (2002), p. 31.
  11. ^ Wells (1982a), p. 408.
  12. ^ "Scottish Standard English and Scots" (PDF). p. 6. Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 April 2014. 
  13. ^ Labov, Ash & Boberg (2006).
  14. ^ Wells (1982b), p. 610.
  15. ^ Hall (1944:75)
  16. ^ a b Šuštaršič, Komar & Petek (1999:136)
  17. ^ a b Greenberg (2006:18)


  • Greenberg, Mark L. (2006), A Short Reference Grammar of Standard Slovene, Kansas: University of Kansas 
  • Hall, Robert A. Jr. (1944). "Italian phonemes and orthography". Italica (American Association of Teachers of Italian) 21 (2): 72–82. doi:10.2307/475860. JSTOR 475860. 
  • Labov, William; Ash, Sharon; Boberg, Charles (2006), The Atlas of North American English, Berlin: Mouton-de Gruyter, ISBN 3-11-016746-8 
  • Lass, Roger (2002), "South African English", in Mesthrie, Rajend, Language in South Africa, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 9780521791052 
  • McMahon, April (2002), An Introduction to English Phonology, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press Ltd, ISBN 0 7486 1252 1 
  • Rogers, Henry (2000), The Sounds of Language: An Introduction to Phonetics, Essex: Pearson Education Limited, ISBN 978-0-582-38182-7 
  • Skinner, Edith; Timothy Monich; Lilene Mansell (ed.) (1990). Speak with distinction (Second ed.). New York: Applause Theatre Book Publishers. ISBN 1-55783-047-9. 
  • Šuštaršič, Rastislav; Komar, Smiljana; Petek, Bojan (1999), "Slovene", Handbook of the International Phonetic Association: A guide to the use of the International Phonetic Alphabet, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 135–139, doi:10.1017/S0025100300004874, ISBN 0-521-65236-7 
  • Wells, J.C. (1982a), Accents of English, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 
  • Wells, J.C. (1982b). Accents of English 3: Beyond the British Isles. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-28541-0.