Voiceless velar fricative

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This sound is a voiceless velar fricative, represented by /x/ in the IPA. The symbol comes from the Greek, although the symbol closer to the normally used Greek one is the Voiceless uvular fricative /χ/.


Germanic Languages



In Anglo-Saxon, this sound is represented by h when after a back vowel. Words like Meahte would be pronounced /mɛaxtə/, or breahtma' would be pronounced /brɛaxtma/.

Middle English

The sound from Anglo-Saxon, also came into Middle English. In early forms, it was written h just like in the older language (in poems like Brut). In later years, the spelling shifted to gh in most cases, such as in Chaucer. The word droghte in the second line of the General Prologue, would be pronounced /drɔxt/.

Modern English

In modern English, all standard forms of English have dropped this sound. However, in Scots, as well as some Scottish variations of English, the spellings ch or gh can still be pronounced /x/ after back vowels or any vowel depending on dialect..

High German

In High German today, the sound /x/ is represented by ch after a back vowel. In northern Germanic dialects, such as Low German areas, the sound is retained as /k/ from Proto-Germanic. There are countless examples of German words with the /x/. words like machen (to make) being pronounced /maxən/.


The sound /x/ is represented by g and ch in Dutch Orthography. The g is sometimes really a /ɣ/, although in most cases it is /x/. Even basic expressions like Goededag (Good day) is /xudədax/.


In Spanish, the sound /x/ is represented by j, when around a back vowel. This means words like baja would be pronounced /baxa/. This sound can also be spelt x in some specific words, and in words brought in from Mayan and Aztec influence. This is why Mexico is pronounced /mexiko/ in that dialect.


In Modern Greek, the letter Χ, χ represents /x/ when before back vowels. (This value is the result of spirantization: Ancient Greek had /kʰ/ here.) Before front vowels, a voiceless palatal fricative [ç] occurs, which is sometimes considered phonemic, sometimes allophonic.

Slavic Languages


The Cyrillic alphabet has Х, х which represent the sound /x/. This is in the cases that use this letter in Russian, Belarusian, Bulgarian, Mongolian, Turkmen, Ukrainian, Serbian, and most other languages that use the Cyrillic alphabet.

Polish, Slovak and Czech

In Polish, the letter H, h is used for /x/. In all three, Polish, Slovak and Czech, the diagraph Ch is also used for /x/.


(New) West Germanic

The West Germanic orthography uses the special character ħ (Latin H with stroke) to represent the /x/ sound.


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