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Voiced bilabial fricative

Voiced bilabial fricative
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IPA number 127
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Kirshenbaum B
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Voiced bilabial approximant
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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, 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. See Fuzhou dialect#Initial assimilation.
Dutch Belgian[6] wang [β̞ɑŋ] 'cheek' Some dialects.[6] Corresponds to [w] in standard Belgian Dutch. See Dutch phonology
Maastrichtian[7] Corresponds to [ʋ] in standard Dutch. See Dutch phonology
Dahalo [koːβo] 'to want'
English Chicano very [βɛɹi] 'very' May be a [b] instead. See Chicano English.
Ewe[8] Eʋe [ɛβɛ] 'Ewe language' Contrasts with both [v] and [w]
German[9][10] aber [ˈaːβɐ] 'but' Intervocalic[9][10] and pre-lateral[9] allophone of /b/ in casual speech.[9][10] See German phonology
Japanese[11] 神戸市 be-shi [koːβ̞e ɕi] 'Kobe' Allophone of /b/ only in fast speech between vowels. See Japanese phonology
Kabyle bri [βri] 'to cut'
Occitan Gascon la-vetz [laβ̞ets] 'then' Allophone of /b/
Portuguese[12] Some dialects uma bala [ˈumɐ ˈβaɫɐ] 'a bullet', 'a candy' Allophone of /b/, and phantom /v/, most common in European Portuguese.[13] In Brazil, [β] can also occur in some particular contexts. See Portuguese phonology
Many dialects bado [ˈsaβɐðu] 'Saturday'
Most dialects[14] abra [ˈaβɾɐ] 'open it'
Sardinian Logudorese dialect[15] paba About this sound [ˈpäːβä]  'Pope' Intervocalic b. The letter p at the beginning of a word may also be pronounced /β/ if the word is preceded by a vowel[15]
Spanish[16] lava [ˈläβ̞ä] 'lava' Allophone of /b/. See Spanish phonology
Swedish Central Standard[17] aber [ˈɑːβ̞eɾ] 'problem' Allophone of /b/ in casual speech. See Swedish phonology
Turkmen watan [βatan] 'country'
Uruguayan Portuñol brabo [ˈbɾaβ̞o] 'angry' Allophone of /b/
Zapotec Tilquiapan[18] [example needed] Allophone of /b/

See also



  • 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", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 29 (2): 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, ISBN 0-521-65236-7, doi:10.1017/S0025100300004874 
  • 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 
  • Wheeler, Max W (2005), The Phonology Of Catalan, Oxford: Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-925814-7