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Alveolar approximant: Wikis


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IPA – number 151
IPA – text ɹ
IPA – image {{{imagesize}}}
Entity ɹ
Kirshenbaum r
About this sound Sound sample

The alveolar approximant is a type of consonantal sound used in some spoken languages. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents alveolar and postalveolar approximants is ‹ɹ›, a lowercase letter r rotated 180 degrees; the equivalent X-SAMPA symbol is ‹r\›.

For ease of typesetting, some phonemic transcriptions use the symbol ‹r› instead of ‹ɹ›, even though the former symbol technically represents the alveolar trill.



Features of the alveolar approximant:

  • Its manner of articulation is approximant, which means it is produced by bringing one articulator close to another but without the vocal tract being narrowed to such an extent that a turbulent airstream is produced.
  • Its place of articulation is alveolar, which means it is articulated with either the tip or the blade of the tongue against the alveolar ridge, termed respectively apical and laminal.
  • Its phonation type is voiced, which means the vocal cords are vibrating during the articulation.
  • It is an oral consonant, which means air is allowed to escape through the mouth.
  • It is a central consonant, which means it is produced by allowing the airstream to flow over the middle of the tongue, rather than the sides.
  • The airstream mechanism is pulmonic egressive, which means it is articulated by pushing air out of the lungs and through the vocal tract, rather than from the glottis or the mouth.


Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Armenian Eastern սուրճ [suɹtʃʰ] 'coffee'
Chukchi ңирэк [ŋiɹek] 'two'
Dutch werk [ʋɛɹk] 'work' Some dialects. Most dialects use an alveolar trill. See Dutch phonology
English American dialects[1] red [ɹ̠ˤʷɛd] 'red' Often retracted and labialized. May also be a labialized retroflex approximant or an alveolar trill. See English phonology
Faroese róður [ɹɔuwʊɹ] 'rudder'
German Westerwald[2] and Siegerland[3] dialects Rebe [ɹeːbə] 'vine shoot' Most dialects use a voiced uvular fricative or uvular trill. See German phonology
Brazilian Portuguese Caipira porta [ˈpɔɹta] 'door' See Portuguese phonology
Spanish Some dialects[4] doscientos [do̞ɹˈθje̞nto̞s] 'two hundred' Allophone of /s/ in the syllable coda.
Vietnamese rơ [ɹɤ] 'to clean' See Vietnamese phonology
Zapotec Tilquiapan[5] r [ɹd̪ɨ] 'pass' Allophone of /ɾ/ before any consonant

See also



  • Boyce, S.; Espy-Wilson, C. (1997), "Coarticulatory stability in American English /r/", Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 101: 3741–3753  
  • Browman, L.; Goldstein (1995), "Gestural syllable position in American English", in Bell-Berti, F., Producing Speech: Contemporary issues for K Harris, New York: AIP, pp. 9–33  
  • Delattre, P.; Freeman, D.C. (1968), "A dialect study of American R's by x-ray motion picture", Linguistics 44: 29–68  
  • Fougeron, C (1999), "Prosodically conditioned articulatory variation: A Review", UCLA Working Papers in Phonetics, 97, pp. 1–73  
  • Hallé, Pierre A.; Best, Catherine T.; Levitt; Andrea (1999), "Phonetic vs. phonological influences on French listeners' perception of American English approximants", Journal of Phonetics 27: 281–306  
  • Kohler, Klaus (1995), Einführung in die Phonetik des Deutschen, Berlin: Erich Schmidt Verlag  
  • Merrill, Elizabeth (2008), "Tilquipan Zapotec", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 38 (1): 107–114  
  • Recasens, Daniel (2004), "The effect of syllable position on consonant reduction (evidence fromCatalan consonant clusters)", Journal of Phonetics 32: 435–453, doi:10.1016/j.wocn.2004.02.001  
  • Zawadski, P.A.; Kuehn, D.P. (1980), "A cineradiographic study of static and dynamic aspects of American English /r/", Phonetica 37: 253–266  


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