Dental, alveolar and postalveolar trills

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The alveolar trill is a type of consonantal sound, used in some spoken languages. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents dental, alveolar, and postalveolar trills is ⟨r⟩, and the equivalent X-SAMPA symbol is r. It is commonly called the rolled R, rolling R, or trilled R. Quite often, ⟨r⟩ is used in phonemic transcriptions (especially those found in dictionaries) of languages like English and German that have rhotic consonants that are not an alveolar trill. This is partly due to ease of typesetting and partly because ⟨r⟩ is the letter used in the orthographies of these languages.

In the majority of Indo-European languages, this sound is at least occasionally allophonic with an alveolar tap [ɾ], particularly in unstressed positions. Exceptions to this include Albanian, Spanish, Cypriot Greek, and a number of Armenian and Portuguese dialects, which treat them as distinct phonemes.

People with ankyloglossia may find it exceptionally difficult to articulate this consonant due to the limited mobility of their tongues.[1][2]

Voiced alveolar trill

Voiced alveolar trill
IPA number 122
Entity (decimal) r
Unicode (hex) U+0072
Kirshenbaum r
Braille ⠗ (braille pattern dots-1235)

Most commonly, the alveolar trill is voiced.


Features of the alveolar trill:



Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Hungarian[4] arra [ɒr̪ːɒ] 'that way' See Hungarian phonology
Romanian[5] repede [ˈr̪e̞pe̞d̪e̞] 'quickly' Apical. See Romanian phonology
Russian[6] рьяный [ˈr̪ʲjän̪ɨ̞j] 'zealous' Apical, palatalized. Often a tap.[6] It contrasts with a post-alveolar trill. See Russian phonology


Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Afrikaans Standard[7] rooi [roːi̯] 'red' May be a tap [ɾ] instead.[7] See Afrikaans phonology
Armenian Eastern[8] ռումբ About this sound [rumb]  'cannonball'
Czech[9] chlor [xlɔ̝ːr] 'chlorine' Contrasts with /r̝/; may be syllabic. See Czech phonology
Danish Few speakers of the Jutlandic dialect[10] [example needed] Corresponds to much more back [ʁ ~ ʕ] in standard Danish. See Danish phonology
English Scottish curd [kʌrd] 'curd' Only some dialects. Corresponds to [ɾ ~ ɹ] in others. See English phonology
Greek Standard[11] άρτος [ˈartos] 'Communion bread' Allophone of /r/. Usual in clusters, otherwise a tap or an approximant.[11] See Modern Greek phonology
Cypriot[12][13] βορράς [voˈrːas] 'north' Contrasts with /ɾ/.
Italian[14] terra About this sound [ˈt̪ɛrːä]  'earth' See Italian phonology
Kele[15] [ⁿrikei] 'leg'
Kyrgyz[16] ыр [ɯr] 'song'
Latvian[17] rags [räks̪] 'horn' See Latvian phonology
Polish[18] krok About this sound [krɔk]  'step' Contrasts with /r̝/ for few speakers. See Polish phonology
Serbo-Croatian[19] рт / rt [r̩t] 'cape' May be syllabic. See Serbo-Croatian phonology
Slovak[20] krk [kr̩k] 'neck' May be a tap, particularly when not syllabic.
Slovene[21] r [ríːʃ] 'rice' Also described as tap [ɾ],[22] and variable between trill [r] and tap [ɾ].[23] See Slovene phonology
Spanish[24] perro [ˈpe̞ro̞] 'dog' Contrasts with /ɾ/. See Spanish phonology
Titan[15] [ⁿrakeiʔin] 'girls'
Yiddish Standard[25] בריק [brɪk] 'bridge' More commonly a flap [ɾ]; can be uvular [ʀ̆ ~ ʀ] instead.[25] See Yiddish phonology
Zapotec Tilquiapan[26] r-ree [rɘˀɘ] 'go out (habitually)' Underlyingly two sequences of /ɾ/.


Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Catalan[27] roba [ˈr̠ɔβ̞ə] 'clothes' Contrasts with /ɾ/. See Catalan phonology
Gokana[28] bele [bēr̠ē] 'we' Allophone of /l/, medially between vowels within the morpheme, and finally in the morpheme
before a following vowel in the same word. It can be a postalveolar tap or simply [l] instead.[28]
Russian[6] играть [ɪˈɡr̠ätʲ] 'to play' Contrasts with a palatalized dental trill. See Russian phonology


Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
German Standard[29] Schmarrn [ʃmaːrn] 'nonsense' Varies between apical dental and apical alveolar; may be a tap instead.[29] See German phonology

Voiced alveolar fricative trill

Raised alveolar trill
IPA number 122 429

In Czech, there are two contrasting alveolar trills. Besides the typical apical trill, written r, there is another, laminal trill, written ř, in words such as rybáři [ˈrɪbaːr̝ɪ] 'fishermen' and the common surname Dvořák. Its manner of articulation is similar to [r] but is laminal and the body of the tongue is raised. It is thus partially fricative, with the frication sounding rather like [ʒ] but not so retracted. In the IPA, it is typically written as ⟨r⟩ plus the raising diacritic, ⟨⟩, but it has also been written as laminal ⟨⟩.[30] Non-native speakers may pronounce it as [rʐ] or [rʒ]. (Before the 1989 IPA Kiel Convention, it had a dedicated symbol ⟨ɼ⟩). The Kobon language of Papua New Guinea also has a fricative trill, but the degree of frication is variable.


Features of the voiced alveolar fricative trill:


Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Czech[31][32][33][34] čtyři About this sound [ˈt͡ʃtɪr̝ɪ]  'four' May be a non-sibilant fricative.[32] It contrasts with /r/ and /ʒ/. See Czech phonology
Kashubian[35] [example needed] Only some northern and northwestern speakers.[35]
Kobon [example needed] Amount of frication variable. May also be a fricative flap[citation needed]
Polish Some dialects[36] rzeka About this sound [ˈr̝ɛkä]  'river' Contrasts with /r/ and /ʐ/. Present in areas from Starogard Gdański to Malbork[36] and those south, west and northwest of them,[36] area from Lubawa to Olsztyn to Olecko to Działdowo,[36] south and east from Wieleń,[36] around Wołomin,[36] southeast from Ostrów Mazowiecka[36] and west from Siedlce,[36] from Brzeg to Opole and those north of them,[36] and roughly from Racibórz to Nowy Targ.[36] Most speakers, as well as standard Polish merge it with /ʐ/,[36] and speakers maintaining the distinction (which is mostly the elderly) sporadically do that too.[36] See Polish phonology
Portuguese[37] os rins [u ˈr̝ĩʃ] 'the kidneys' Possible realization of the sequence /sr/ for speakers who realize /r/ as [r].[37] See Portuguese phonology
Silesian Gmina Istebna[38] [example needed] Contrasts with /r/ and /ʒ/. Merges with /ʐ/ in most Polish dialects.
Jablunkov[38] [example needed]
Slovak Northern dialects[36][39] řyka [ˈr̝ɪkä] 'river' Only in a few dialects near the Polish border.[36] See Slovak phonology

See also


  1. Chaubal & Dixit (2011:270–272)
  2. Mayo Clinic (2012)
  3. Ladefoged & Maddieson (1996:228)
  4. Siptár & Törkenczy (2000:75–76), Szende (1999:104)
  5. Ovidiu Drăghici, Limba Română contemporană. Fonetică. Fonologie. Ortografie. Lexicologie (PDF), retrieved April 19, 2013<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>[dead link]
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Skalozub (1963:?); cited in Ladefoged & Maddieson (1996:221)
  7. 7.0 7.1 Lass (1987), p. 117.
  8. Dum-Tragut (2009:19)
  9. Pultrová (2013:22)
  10. Torp (2001:78)
  11. 11.0 11.1 Arvaniti (2007:14–18)
  12. Arvaniti (2010:3–4)
  13. "βορράς", Cypriot Greek Lexicographic Database, Ερευνητικό Πρόγραμμα Συντυσές, 2011, retrieved 5 March 2014<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. Rogers & d'Arcangeli (2004:117)
  15. 15.0 15.1 Ladefoged (2005:165)
  16. Kara (2003:11)
  17. Nau (1998:6)
  18. Jassem (2003:103)
  19. Kordić (2006:5), Landau et al. (1999:66)
  20. Hanulíková & Hamann (2010:374)
  21. Pretnar & Tokarz (1980:21)
  22. Šuštaršič, Komar & Petek (1999:135)
  23. Greenberg (2006:17 and 20)
  24. Martínez-Celdrán, Fernández-Planas & Carrera-Sabaté (2003:255)
  25. 25.0 25.1 Kleine (2003:263)
  26. Merrill (2008:109)
  27. Recasens & Pallarès (1995:288)
  28. 28.0 28.1 L.F. Brosnahan, Outlines of the phonology of the Gokana dialect of Ogoni (PDF), retrieved 2013-11-24<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  29. 29.0 29.1 Mangold (2005:53)
  30. For example, Ladefoged (1971).
  31. Dankovičová (1999:70-71)
  32. 32.0 32.1 Ladefoged & Maddieson (1996:228-230 and 233)
  33. Lodge (2009:46)
  34. Šimáčková, Podlipský & Chládková (2012:226)
  35. 35.0 35.1 Jerzy Treder. "Fonetyka i fonologia".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  36. 36.00 36.01 36.02 36.03 36.04 36.05 36.06 36.07 36.08 36.09 36.10 36.11 36.12 36.13 Gwary polskie - Frykatywne rż (ř),, retrieved 2013-11-06<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  37. 37.0 37.1 Grønnum (2005:157)
  38. 38.0 38.1 Dąbrowska (2004:?)
  39. Dudášová-Kriššáková (1995:98)


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