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Dental, alveolar and postalveolar trills

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Dental, alveolar and postalveolar trills

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 1
    • Features 1.1
    • Occurrence 1.2
      • Dental 1.2.1
      • Alveolar 1.2.2
      • Post-alveolar 1.2.3
      • Variable 1.2.4
  • Voiced alveolar fricative trill 2
    • Features 2.1
    • Occurrence 2.2
  • See also 3
  • References 4
  • Bibliography 5

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     'cannonball'
Danish Few speakers of the Jutlandic dialect[9] 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[10] άρτος [ˈartos] 'Communion bread' Allophone of /r/. Usual in clusters, otherwise a tap or an approximant.[10] See Modern Greek phonology
Cypriot[11][12] βορράς [voˈrːas] 'north' Contrasts with /ɾ/.
Italian[13] terra About this sound [ˈt̪ɛrːä]   'earth' See Italian phonology
Kele[14] [ⁿrikei] 'leg'
Kyrgyz[15] ыр [ɯr] 'song'
Latvian[16] rags [räks̪] 'horn' See Latvian phonology
Polish[17] krok     'step' Contrasts with /r̝/ for few speakers. See Polish phonology
Serbo-Croatian[18] рт / rt [r̩t] 'cape' May be syllabic. See Serbo-Croatian phonology
Slovak[19] krk [kr̩k] 'neck' May be a tap, particularly when not syllabic.
Slovene[20] r [ríːʃ] 'rice' Also described as tap [ɾ],[21] and variable between trill [r] and tap [ɾ].[22] See Slovene phonology
Spanish[23] perro [ˈpe̞ro̞] 'dog' Contrasts with /ɾ/. See Spanish phonology
Titan[14] [ⁿrakeiʔin] 'girls'
Yiddish Standard[24] בריק [brɪk] 'bridge' More commonly a flap [ɾ]; can be uvular [ʀ̆ ~ ʀ] instead.[24] See Yiddish phonology
Zapotec Tilquiapan[25] r-ree [rɘˀɘ] 'go out (habitually)' Underlyingly two sequences of /ɾ/.


Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Catalan[26] roba [ˈr̠ɔβ̞ə] 'clothes' Contrasts with /ɾ/. See Catalan phonology
Gokana[27] 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.[27]
Russian[6] играть [ɪˈɡr̠ätʲ] 'to play' Contrasts with a palatalized dental trill. See Russian phonology


Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
German Standard[28] Schmarrn [ʃmaːrn] 'nonsense' Varies between apical dental and apical alveolar; may be a tap instead.[28] 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], though more laminal and the body of the tongue is raised. It is thus partially fricative, with the frication sounding rather like [ʒ] though not so retracted. In the IPA it is typically written as r plus the raising diacritic, , though it has also been written as laminal .[29] 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, although the degree of frication is variable.


Features of the voiced alveolar fricative trill:


Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Czech[30][31][32][33] čtyři     'four' May be a non-sibilant fricative.[31] It contrasts with /r/ and /ʒ/. See Czech phonology
Kashubian[34] Only some northern[34] and northwestern[34] speakers.
Kobon Amount of frication variable. May also be a fricative flap
Polish Some dialects[35] rzeka     'river' Contrasts with /r/ and /ʐ/. Present in areas from Starogard Gdański to Malbork[35] and those south, west and northwest of them,[35] area from Lubawa to Olsztyn to Olecko to Działdowo,[35] south and east from Wieleń,[35] around Wołomin,[35] southeast from Ostrów Mazowiecka[35] and west from Siedlce,[35] from Brzeg to Opole and those north of them,[35] and roughly from Racibórz to Nowy Targ.[35] Most speakers, as well as standard Polish merge it with /ʐ/,[35] and speakers maintaining the distinction (which is mostly the elderly) sporadically do that too.[35] See Polish phonology
Portuguese[36] os rins [u ˈr̝ĩʃ] 'the kidneys' Possible realization of the sequence /sr/ for speakers who realize /r/ as [r].[36] See Portuguese phonology
Silesian Gmina Istebna[37] Contrasts with /r/ and /ʒ/. Merges with /ʐ/ in most Polish dialects.
Slovak Northern dialects[35][38] řyka [ˈr̝ika] 'river' Only in few dialects near the Polish border.[35] 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 
  6. ^ a b c Skalozub (1963:?); cited in Ladefoged & Maddieson (1996:221)
  7. ^ a b Lass (1987), p. 117.
  8. ^ Dum-Tragut (2009:19)
  9. ^ Torp (2001:78)
  10. ^ a b Arvaniti (2007:14–18)
  11. ^ Arvaniti (2010:3–4)
  12. ^ "βορράς", Cypriot Greek Lexicographic Database (Ερευνητικό Πρόγραμμα Συντυσές), 2011, retrieved 5 March 2014 
  13. ^ Rogers & d'Arcangeli (2004:117)
  14. ^ a b Ladefoged (2005:165)
  15. ^ Kara (2003:11)
  16. ^ Nau (1998:6)
  17. ^ Jassem (2003:103)
  18. ^ Kordić (2006:5), Landau et al. (1999:66)
  19. ^ Hanulíková & Hamann (2010:374)
  20. ^ Pretnar & Tokarz (1980:21)
  21. ^ Šuštaršič, Komar & Petek (1999:135)
  22. ^ Greenberg (2006:17 and 20)
  23. ^ Martínez-Celdrán, Fernández-Planas & Carrera-Sabaté (2003:255)
  24. ^ a b Kleine (2003:263)
  25. ^ Merrill (2008:109)
  26. ^ Recasens & Pallarès (1995:288)
  27. ^ a b L.F. Brosnahan, Outlines of the phonology of the Gokana dialect of Ogoni (PDF), retrieved 2013-11-24 
  28. ^ a b Mangold (2005:53)
  29. ^ E.g. Ladefoged (1971)
  30. ^ Dankovičová (1999:70-71)
  31. ^ a b Ladefoged & Maddieson (1996:228-230 and 233)
  32. ^ Lodge (2009:46)
  33. ^ Šimáčková, Podlipský & Chládková (2012:226)
  34. ^ a b c Jerzy Treder. "Fonetyka i fonologia". 
  35. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Gwary polskie - Frykatywne rż (ř),, retrieved 2013-11-06 
  36. ^ a b Grønnum (2005:157)
  37. ^ a b Dąbrowska (2004:?)
  38. ^ Dudášová-Kriššáková (1995:98)


  • "Tongue-tie (ankyloglossia)", Mayo Clinic (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research), May 16, 2012, retrieved 22 October 2013 
  • Arvaniti, Amalia (2007), "Greek Phonetics: The State of the Art" (PDF), Journal of Greek Linguistics 8: 97–208,  
  • Arvaniti, Amalia (2010), "A (brief) review of Cypriot Phonetics and Phonology", The Greek Language in Cyprus from Antiquity to the Present Day (PDF), University of Athens, pp. 107–124 
  • Chaubal, Tanay V.; Dixit, Mala Baburaj (2011), "Ankyloglossia and its Management", Journal of Indian Society of Periodontology 15 (3): 270–272,  
  • Dąbrowska, Anna (2004), Język polski, Wrocław: wydawnictwo Dolnośląskie,  
  • Dankovičová, Jana (1999), "Czech", Handbook of the International Phonetic Association: A guide to the use of the International Phonetic Alphabet, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 70–74,  
  • Dudášová-Kriššáková, Júlia (1995), "Slovak" (PDF), Slovenská reč 60 (2): 92–102 
  • Dum-Tragut, Jasmine (2009), Armenian: Modern Eastern Armenian, Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company 
  • Greenberg, Mark L. (2006), A Short Reference Grammar of Standard Slovene, Kansas: University of Kansas 
  • Grønnum, Nina (2005), Fonetik og fonologi, Almen og Dansk (3rd ed.), Copenhagen: Akademisk Forlag,  
  • Hanulíková, Adriana; Hamann, Silke (2010), "Slovak" (PDF), Journal of the International Phonetic Association 40 (3): 373–378,  
  • Jassem, Wiktor (2003), "Polish", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 33 (1): 103–107,  
  • Kara, Dávid Somfai (2003), Kyrgyz, Lincom Europa,  
  • Kleine, Ane (2003), "Standard Yiddish", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 33 (2): 261–265,  
  • Landau, Ernestina; Lončarić, Mijo; Horga, Damir; Škarić, Ivo (1999), "Croatian", Handbook of the International Phonetic Association: A guide to the use of the International Phonetic Alphabet, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 66–69,  
  • Lass, Roger (1987), "Intradiphthongal Dependencies", in Anderson, John; Durand, Jaques, Explorations in Dependency Phonology, Dordrecht: Foris Publications Holland, pp. 109–131,  
  • Lodge, Ken (2009), A Critical Introduction to Phonetics,  
  • Martínez-Celdrán, Eugenio; Fernández-Planas, Ana Ma.; Carrera-Sabaté, Josefina (2003), "Castilian Spanish", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 33 (2): 255–259,  
  • Merrill, Elizabeth (2008), "Tilquiapan Zapotec", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 38 (1): 107–114,  
  • Nau, Nicole (1998), Latvian, Lincom Europa,  
  • Pretnar, Tone; Tokarz, Emil (1980), Slovenščina za Poljake: Kurs podstawowy języka słoweńskiego, Katowice: Uniwersytet Śląski 
  • Recasens, Daniel; Pallarès, Maria Dolors (2001), De la fonètica a la fonologia: les consonants i assimilacions consonàntiques del català, Barcelona: Editorial Ariel,  
  • Rogers, Derek; d'Arcangeli, Luciana (2004), "Italian", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 34 (1): 117–121,  
  • Šimáčková, Šárka; Podlipský, Václav Jonáš; Chládková, Kateřina (2012), "Czech spoken in Bohemia and Moravia" (PDF), Journal of the International Phonetic Association 42 (2): 225–232,  
  • Siptár, Péter; Törkenczy, Miklós (2000), The Phonology of Hungarian, New York: Oxford University Press,  
  • Skalozub, Larisa (1963), Palatogrammy i Rentgenogrammy Soglasnyx Fonem Russkogo Literaturnogo Jazyka, Izdatelstvo Kievskogo Universiteta 
  • Šuštaršič, Rastislav; Komar, Smiljana; Petek, Bojan (1999), "Slovene", Handbook of the International Phonetic Association: A guide to the use of the International Phonetic Alphabet, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 135–139,  
  • Szende, Tamás (1999), "Hungarian", Handbook of the International Phonetic Association: A guide to the use of the International Phonetic Alphabet, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 104–107,  
  • Torp, Arne (2001), "Retroflex consonants and dorsal /r/: mutually excluding innovations? On the diffusion of dorsal /r/ in Scandinavian", in van de Velde, Hans; van Hout, Roeland, 'r-atics, Brussels: Etudes & Travaux, pp. 75–90,  
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