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alveolar approximant: Wikis


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Phonetic sound
alveolar approximant
Symbol (font) ɹ
Symbol (image)
IPA–number 151
Entity (decimal) ɹ
Unicode (hex) U+0279
Kirshenbaum r
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 near 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
EnglishAmerican dialects[1] red [ɹ̠ˤʷɛd] 'red'Often retracted and labialized. May also be a labialized retroflex approximant; corresponds to an alveolar trill or alveolar tap in other dialects. See English phonology
Received Pronunciation
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 Caipiraporta [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), [Expression error: Unexpected < operator "Coarticulatory stability in American English /r/"], Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 101 (6): 3741–3753, doi:10.1121/1.418333, PMID 9193061 
  • Browman, L.; Goldstein (1995), [Expression error: Unexpected < operator "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), [Expression error: Unexpected < operator "A dialect study of American R's by x-ray motion picture"], Linguistics 44: 29–68 
  • Fougeron, C (1999), [Expression error: Unexpected < operator "Prosodically conditioned articulatory variation: A Review"], UCLA Working Papers in Phonetics, 97, pp. 1–73 
  • Hallé, Pierre A.; Best, Catherine T.; Levitt; Andrea (1999), [Expression error: Unexpected < operator "Phonetic vs. phonological influences on French listeners' perception of American English approximants"], Journal of Phonetics 27: 281–306, doi:10.1006/jpho.1999.0097 
  • Kohler, Klaus (1995), [Expression error: Unexpected < operator Einführung in die Phonetik des Deutschen], Berlin: Erich Schmidt Verlag 
  • Merrill, Elizabeth (2008), [Expression error: Unexpected < operator "Tilquipan Zapotec"], Journal of the International Phonetic Association 38 (1): 107–114 
  • Recasens, Daniel (2004), [Expression error: Unexpected < operator "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), [Expression error: Unexpected < operator "A cineradiographic study of static and dynamic aspects of American English /r/"], Phonetica 37 (4): 253–266, doi:10.1159/000259995, PMID 7443796 


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