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Uvular approximant

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Uvular approximant

The voiced uvular fricative or approximant is a type of consonantal sound, used in some spoken languages. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is ⟨ʁ⟩, an inverted small uppercase letter ⟨ʀ⟩,[1] or in broad transcriptionɣ⟩ or (if rhotic) ⟨r⟩. This consonant is one of several collectively called guttural R when found in European languages.

Because the IPA symbol stands for both the uvular fricative and the uvular approximant, the fricative nature of this sound may be specified by adding the uptack to the letter: ⟨ʁ̝⟩. The approximant can be specified by adding the downtack: ⟨ʁ̞⟩.


Features of the voiced uvular fricative:

  • Its manner of articulation is fricative, which means it is produced by constricting air flow through a narrow channel at the place of articulation, causing turbulence. In many languages it is closer to an approximant, however, and no language distinguishes the two at the uvular articulation.
  • Its place of articulation is uvular, which means it is articulated with the back of the tongue (the dorsum) at the uvula.
  • Its phonation is voiced, which means the vocal cords vibrate during the articulation.
  • It is an oral consonant, which means air is allowed to escape through the mouth only.
  • It is a central consonant, which means it is produced by directing the airstream along the center of the tongue, rather than to the sides.
  • The airstream mechanism is pulmonic, which means it is articulated by pushing air solely with the lungs and diaphragm, as in most sounds.


In Western Europe, a uvular trill pronunciation of rhotic consonants spread from northern French to several dialects and registers of Basque,[2] Catalan, Danish, Dutch, German, Hebrew, Judaeo-Spanish, Norwegian, Occitan, Portuguese and Swedish. However, not all of these remain a uvular trill today. In Danish, the r is a pharyngeal approximant in all but the most conservative speech. In Brazilian Portuguese, it is usually a velar fricative (], ]), voiceless uvular fricative [χ], or glottal transition (], ]), except in southern Brazil and Rio de Janeiro, where alveolar, velar and uvular trills and the voiced uvular fricative predominate. Because such uvular rhotics often do not contrast with alveolar ones, IPA transcriptions may often use ⟨r⟩ to represent them for ease of typesetting. For more information, see guttural R.

Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Abkhaz цыҕ [tsəʁ] 'marten' See Abkhaz phonology
Adyghe тыгъэ ğă ) 'sun'
Aleut Atkan dialect chamĝul [tʃɑmʁul] 'to wash'
Arabic غزال [ʁazaːl] 'gazelle' See Arabic phonology
Archi гъӀабос [ʁˤabos][1] 'croak'
Armenian Eastern[3] ղեկ ) 'rudder'
Avar тIагъур [tʼaˈʁur] 'cap'
Berber Kabyle bbeγ [bːəʁ] 'to dive'
Chilcotin [ʁəlkɪʃ] 'he walks'
Danish rød [ʁ̞ɶð̞] 'red' See Danish phonology
Dutch Southern rond [ʁɔnt] 'round' Some dialects, mainly those of North Brabant, Limburg and parts of Belgium. See Dutch phonology
English North-east Leinster[4] red [ʁɛd] 'red' Corresponds to ~ ~ ] in other Irish dialects.
French rester [ʁɛste] 'to stay' See French phonology
German Standard[5] Rübe [ˈʁyːbə] 'turnip' In free variation with a uvular trill. See German phonology
Lower Rhine[5]
Hebrew רע [ʁa] 'bad' May also be trilled. See Modern Hebrew phonology
Inuktitut East Inuktitut dialect marruuk [mɑʁʁuuk] 'two'
Kabardian гъэ [ʁa] 'year'
Kazakh саған sağan [sɑˈʁɑn] 'you (singular dative)'
Kyrgyz жамгыр [dʒɑmˈʁɯr] 'rain'
Lakota aǧúyapi [aʁʊjapɪ] 'bread'
Limburgish Maastrichtian dialect roond [ʁoːnt] 'round'
Malay Perak dialect Perak [peʁɑk̚] 'Perak (name of state)' See Malay phonology
Norwegian Southern and southwestern dialects rar [ʁɑːʁ] 'strange' See Norwegian phonology
Portuguese European[6] carro [ˈkaʁu] 'car' By French influence Setúbal's dialect entirely merged // into /ʁ/. Often trilled. See Portuguese phonology
Setubalense[7] ruralizar [ʁuʁəɫiˈzaʁ] 'to ruralize'
Fluminense[7][8] ardência [ɐʁˈdẽsjə] 'burning feeling', 'stinging' By French influence Rio de Janeiro's dialect merged coda // into /ʁ/, what was later expanded to General Brazilian because of its intolerance to coda liquids.[9] Often trilled (what is associated with emphatic speech in most of Brazil). If as coda, generally in free variation with ], ] and ] before voiced, and ], ], ] and ] before voiceless consonants
Sulista arroz [ɐˈʁos] 'rice'
Sakha тоҕус tog‘us [toʁus] 'nine'
Swedish Southern dialects rör [ʁɶʁ] 'pipe(s)' See Swedish phonology
Tatar яңгыр, yañğır [jɒŋˈʁɯr] 'rain'
Tsez агъи ’ag‘i [ˈʔaʁi] 'bird'
Ubykh [ʁa] 'his' Ubykh has ten different uvular fricatives. See Ubykh phonology
Uzbek ёмғир yomg‘ir [jɒmˈʁɨr] 'rain'
Yiddish רעגן [ˈʁɛɡŋ] 'rain' See Yiddish phonology
Zhuang roek [ʁɔ̌k] 'six'

See also



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