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Afrikaans phonology

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Title: Afrikaans phonology  
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Subject: Afrikaans, American Sign Language phonology, Nepali phonology, Avestan phonology, Hawaiian phonology
Collection: Afrikaans, Language Phonologies
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Afrikaans phonology

Afrikaans is a Germanic language and as such has a similar phonology to other Germanic languages, particularly Dutch, Frisian, English, and German. See West Germanic languages for more information.


  • Vowels 1
  • Consonants 2
  • See also 3
  • References 4
  • Bibliography 5
  • Further reading 6


Afrikaans has an extensive vowel inventory consisting of 14 plain vowels (not counting [ə æ æː]), and seven diphthongs.

Afrikaans vowels[1] with example words
Symbol Example
Vowel Orthography Gloss
ə kənt kind 'child'
i dif dief 'thief'
miːr mier 'ant'
y ˈsycis suutjies 'quietly'
myːr muur 'wall'
u buk boek 'book'
buːr boer 'farmer'
ɛ bɛt bed 'bed'
ɛː sɛː 'say'
æ æk ek 'I'
æː pæːrt perd 'horse'
œ kœs kus 'kiss'
œː rœː rûe 'backs'
ɔ bɔk bok 'goat'
ɔː sɔː sôe 'sows'
a kat kat 'cat'
kaːrt kaart 'map'
ə ˈtaːfəl tafel 'table'
əi həi hy 'he'
œi hœis huis 'house'
œu kœut koud 'cold'
broət brood 'bread'
øə søən seun 'son'
veət weet 'to know'
ai ˈbaiə baie 'many'
^1 [æ] and [æː] are not separate phonemes in Afrikaans, but allophones of /ɛ/. [æ] is dialectal, and substitutes /ɛ/ before /k ɡ l r/, most commonly in the former Transvaal and Free State provinces.[2] [æː] is part of the standard language, and is pronounced before /rs/ /rt/ /rd/.[2]
^2 /a aː əi œu/ are also transcribed as /ɐ ɑː ɛi ɵu/ respectively.
^3 /oə øə eə/ are also transcribed as long monophthongs /oː øː eː/, though it's not accurate to do so.[3] /oə/ and /eə/ are also commonly realized as [uə] and [iə] respectively, and such pronunciation is already considered standard.[3] In Western Cape /oə eə/ can also be pronounced [uː] and [iː] respectively.[3]


Labial Alveolar Post-
Dorsal Glottal
Nasal m n ŋ
Stop p b t d k ɡ
Fricative f v s z ʃ ʒ χ ɦ
Approximant l j
Rhotic r


^1 /m/ and /n/ are labiodental [ɱ] before /f/ and /v/. /k χ/ may be somewhat more front before front vowels; the fronted allophone of /k/ also occurs in diminutives ending in -djie and -tjie.[4]
^2 Only in loanwords.
^3 Like in American English, the lateral /l/ is velarized [ɫ] non-prevocalically, and also lightly velarized in other positions [lˠ].[4]
^4 /r/ is most commonly realized as the alveolar trill [r],[4] but voiced uvular fricative [ʁ] and the uvular trill [ʀ] may occur instead in some southern dialects.[4] Trilled versions may be pronounced with single contact: [ɾ], [ʀ̆].
Afrikaans consonants with example words
Symbol Example
Orthography Gloss
p pɔt pot 'pot'
b bɛt bed 'bed'
t ˈtaːfəl tafel 'table'
d dak dak 'roof'
ˈtʃɛχis Tsjeggies 'Czech'
ˈbadʒi budjie 'budgerigar'
k kat kat 'cat'
ɡ ˈsɔrɡə sorge 'cares'
m man man 'man'
n noːi nooi 'invite'
ŋ sɪ̈ŋ sing 'to sing'
f fits fiets 'bicycle'
v ˈvaːtər water 'water'
s søən seun 'son'
z ˈzulu Zoeloe 'Zulu'
ʃ ˈʃina Sjina 'China'
ʒ viʒyːˈeəl visueel 'visually'
χ χut goed 'good'
r roːi rooi 'red'
ɦ ɦœis huis 'house'
j ˈjiːsœs Jesus 'Jesus'
l lif lief 'dear'

Afrikaans devoices all obstruents at the ends of words (a final /d/ becomes /t/).[5]

See also


  1. ^ Donaldson (1993:1)
  2. ^ a b Donaldson (1993:3)
  3. ^ a b c Donaldson (1993:8)
  4. ^ a b c d Donaldson (1993:15)
  5. ^ Donaldson (1993:13–16)


  • Donaldson, Bruce C. (1993), A Grammar of Afrikaans,  

Further reading

  • van der Merwe, A.; Groenewald, E.; van Aardt, D.; Tesner, H. E.C.; Grimbeek, R. J. (2012) [1993], "The formant patterns of Afrikaans vowels as produced by male speakers", South African Journal of Linguistics ( 
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