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IPA – number 127
IPA – text β
IPA – image {{{imagesize}}}
Entity β
Kirshenbaum B
About this sound Sound sample

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 is made by making the normal "v" sound without fully closing the lips or without touching the top teeth to the lower lip.



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 አበባ [aβəβa] 'flower'
Angor fufung [ɸuβuŋ] 'horn'
Berta [βɑ̀lɑ̀ːziʔ] 'no'
Catalan[2] blava [ˈblaβə] 'blue' (f.) Allophone of /b/. See Catalan phonology
Dahalo [koːβo] 'to want'
Dutch Some Belgian dialects[3][4] wang [β̞ɑŋ] 'cheek' See Dutch phonology
Ewe[5] Eʋe [ɛβɛ] 'Ewe language'
Japanese[6] 神戸市/be-shi [koːβe ɕi] 'Kobe' only in fast speech between vowels. See Japanese phonology
Kabyle bri [βri] 'to cut'
Occitan Gascon La-vetz [laβets] 'then'
Spanish[7] lava [ˈlaβ̞a] 'lava' See Spanish phonology
Riverense Portuñol brabo [bɾaβo] 'angry'
Turkmen watan [βatan] 'country'
Zapotec Tilquiapan[8] example needed Intervocalic allophone of /b/



  • Cruz-Ferreira, Madalena (1995), "European Portuguese", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 25 (2): 90–94  
  • Gussenhoven, Carlos; Aarts, Flor (1999), "The dialect of Maastricht", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 29: 155–166  
  • Ladefoged, Peter (2005). Vowels and Consonants (Second ed.). Blackwell.  
  • Martínez-Celdrán, Eugenio; Fernández-Planas, Ana Ma.; Carrera-Sabaté, Josefina (2003), "Castilian Spanish", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 33 (2): 255–259  
  • Picard, Marc (1987), "On the Palatalization and Fricativization of w", International Journal of American Linguistics 53 (3): 362-365  
  • Pope, Mildred (1966). From Latin to Modern French. Manchester: Manchester University Press.  
  • Merrill, Elizabeth (2008), "Tilquipan Zapotec", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 38 (1): 107–114  
  • Wheeler, Max W (2005). The Phonology Of Catalan. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0199258147.  

See also



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