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Voiceless nasal glottal approximant

Voiceless nasal glottal approximant

The voiceless nasal glottal fricative is a type of consonantal sound, a nasal approximant, used in some oral languages. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is ⟨⟩, that is, an h with a tilde.


The h sound is nasalized in several languages, apparently due to a connection between glottal and nasal sounds called rhinoglottophilia. Examples of languages where the only h-like sound is nasalized are Krim, Lisu, and Pirahã.

More rarely, a language will contrast oral /h/ and nasal /h̃/. Two such languages are neighboring Bantu languages of Angola and Namibia, Kwangali and Mbukushu. In these languages, vowels following /h̃/ are nasalized, though nasal vowels do not occur elsewhere. A distinction is also reported from Wolaytta, though in that case the nasal is rare.

Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Basque Souletin dialect[1] ahate [ãˈh̃ãte] 'duck'
Kwangali[2] nhonho [h̃õh̃õ] Tribulus tribulus species
Khoekhoegowab Damara dialect hû [h̃ũ:] 'six' free variation


  1. ^ Hualde, José Ignacio; Ortiz de Urbina, Jon, eds. (2003), A Grammar of Basque, Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, p. 25, ISBN 3-11-017683-1
  2. ^ Ladefoged, Peter; Maddieson, Ian (1996). The Sounds of the World's Languages. Oxford: Blackwell. pp. 132–133. ISBN 978-0-631-19815-4.

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