Voiceless alveolar trill

"r (IPA)" redirects here. For the 'r' sound (as in English red) sometimes transcribed [r] for convenience, see Alveolar approximant ([ɹ]).

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, and a number of Armenian and Portuguese dialects, which treat them as completely separate phonemes.

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


Features of the alveolar trill:


Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Abkhaz ашəара [aʃʷara] 'measure' See Abkhaz phonology
Adyghe речӀы [retʃʼə] 'crushing'
Afrikaans rooi [rɔɪ] 'red'
Albanian rrush [ruʃ] 'grape'
Arabic رأس [rɑʔs] 'head' Represented by a ⟨ر⟩. See Arabic phonology
Armenian Eastern[3] ռումբ ) 'cannonball'
Asturian xenru [ˈʃẽ̞nru] 'son-in-law'
Basque errota [erot̪a] 'mill'
Bulgarian награда [nɐɡrada] 'award'
Catalan[4] roba [ˈrɔβə] 'clothes' Weakly trilled. See Catalan phonology
Czech chlor [xlɔ̝ːr] 'chlorine' May be syllabic. See Czech phonology
Dutch Many dialects rood ) 'red' In free variation with ]. Pronunciation of /r/ varies regionally. See Dutch phonology
English Scottish curd [kʌrd] 'curd' Only some dialects. Corresponds to ~ ] in others. See English phonology
Esperanto tri ) 'three' See Esperanto phonology
Estonian narr [nɑrː] 'fool'
Finnish purra [purːɑ] 'to bite' See Finnish phonology
French Sometimes in rural France, southern France and Corsica rouge [ruʒ] 'red' See Standard and Quebec French phonologies
Rural Quebec and Acadian regions of Canada
African French
Galician ría [ˈri.a] 'ria', 'estuary' Does not occur in coda position.
German Some dialects Schmarrn ) 'nonsense' See German phonology
Greek ρώγα [ˈroɣa] 'grape' More commonly [ɾ]. See Modern Greek phonology
Hebrew Mizrahi ראשׁ [roʃ] 'head' See Modern Hebrew phonology
Hindi घर [ɡʱər] 'house' See Hindi-Urdu phonology
Hungarian arra [ɒrːɒ] 'that way' See Hungarian phonology
Icelandic rós [ˈroːus] 'rose' See Icelandic phonology
Ilokano gurruod [ɡʊˈruʔod] 'thunder'
Italian[5] terra [ˈtɛrra] 'earth' See Italian phonology
Japanese Some dialects 羅針 rashin [raɕĩɴ] 'compass' More commonly [ɾ]. Use of [r] is known in Japanese as makijita (Japanese: 巻き舌, 'rolling tongue'). See Japanese phonology
Kele[6] [ⁿrikei] 'leg'
Kyrgyz[7] ыр [ɯr] 'song'
Latvian[8] rags [räks̪] 'horn' See Latvian phonology
Macedonian игра [iɡra] 'play' See Macedonian phonology
Malay Standard arah [arah] 'direction' See Malay phonology
Marathi Standard [rəbər] 'rubber' See Marathi phonology
Ngwe Njoagwi dialect [lɛ̀rɛ́] 'eye'
Persian رستم Rostam [ˈrostʌm] 'Rostam' Allophone of [ɾ] in word-initial positions. See Persian phonology
Polish[9] krok ) 'step' See Polish phonology
Portuguese Some dialects[10] honrar [õˈraɾ] 'to honor' Older rhotic corresponding to guttural R of most dialects. Does not occur in coda position. See Portuguese phonology
Russian[11] играть [ɪˈɡr̠atʲ] 'to play' Retracted. See Russian phonology
Scots wir [wir] 'our'
Serbo-Croatian рт / rt [r̩t] 'cape' May be syllabic. See Serbo-Croatian phonology
Slovak[12] krk [kr̩k] 'neck' May be a tap, particularly when not syllabic.
Spanish[13] perro [ˈpe̞ro̞] 'dog' See Spanish phonology
Swedish Central Standard rov ) 'prey' See Swedish phonology
Tajik арра [ʌrrʌ] 'saw'
Thai Standard Thai พรุ่งนี้ [pʰrûŋ.níː] 'tomorrow'
Titan[6] [ⁿrakeiʔin] 'girls'
Ubykh [bəqˤʼərda] 'to roll around' See Ubykh phonology
Ukrainian рух [rux] 'motion' See Ukrainian phonology
Welsh Rhagfyr [ˈr̥aɡvɨr] 'December' Contrasts voiced and voiceless alveolar trills. See Welsh phonology
West Frisian rûp [rup] 'carterpillar'
Zapotec Tilquiapan[14] r-ree [rəˀə] 'habitual-go out' Underlyingly two sequences of /ɾ/.

Voiceless alveolar trill

Some languages possess a voiceless alveolar trill, which differs only in the vibrations of the vocal cord. This is rare, and usually occurs alongside the voiced version as a similar phoneme or an allophone. It is postulated to have occurred in Ancient Greek, where it was spelled ⟨⟩; this sound has since merged with /r/ in Modern Greek.


Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Greek Cypriot αδερφός [ɐðe̞r̥ˈfo̞s] 'brother' Allophone of /ɾ/ before voiceless consonants. More commonly a voiceless tap.
Icelandic hrafn [ˈr̥apn̥] 'raven' Not an allophone. Also illustrates [n̥]. See Icelandic phonology
Lezgian[15] крчар krčar [ˈkʰr̥t͡ʃar] 'horns' Allophone of /r/ between voiceless obstruents.
Nivkh Cyrillic script [] N/A In contrast with [r].
Welsh Rhagfyr [ˈr̥aɡvɨr] 'December' Contrasts voiced and voiceless alveolar trills. See Welsh phonology

Raised alveolar non-sonorant trill

In Czech there are two contrasting alveolar trills. Besides the typical trill, written r, there is another, written ř, in words such as rybáři [ˈrɪbaːr̝ɪ] 'fishermen' and the common surname Dvořák. Its manner of articulation is similar to [r] but the tongue is raised; it is partially fricative, with the frication sounding rather like [ʒ], though not so retracted. Thus in the IPA it is written as ⟨r⟩ plus the raising diacritic, ⟨⟩. (Before the 1989 IPA Kiel Convention, it had a dedicated symbol ⟨ɼ⟩). It is normally voiced, but there is a voiceless allophone [r̝̊] as with many other Czech consonants. The Kobon language of Papua New Guinea also has a fricative trill, although the degree of frication is variable.


Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Czech čtyři ) 'four' See Czech phonology
Kobon [example needed]

See also



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