Uvular trill

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Voiced uvular trill

Uvular trill
IPA number 123
Entity (decimal) ʀ
Unicode (hex) U+0280
Kirshenbaum r"
Braille ⠔ (braille pattern dots-35) ⠗ (braille pattern dots-1235)

The uvular trill is a type of consonantal sound, used in some spoken languages. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is ⟨ʀ⟩, a small capital letter R. This consonant is one of several collectively called guttural R.


Features of the uvular trill:


Distribution of guttural R (e.g. [ʁ ʀ χ]) in Continental Europe at the end of the 20th century.[1]
  not usual
  only in some educated speech
  usual in educated speech

There are two main theories regarding the origination of the uvular trill in European languages. According to one theory, the uvular trill originated in Standard French around the seventeenth century, spreading to standard varieties of German, Danish, Portuguese, as well as in parts of Dutch, Norwegian, and Swedish; it is also present in other areas of Europe, but it is not clear if such pronunciations are due to French influence.[2] In most cases, varieties have shifted this to a voiced uvular fricative [ʁ] or a voiced uvular approximant [ʁ̞].

The other main theory posits that the uvular R originated within Germanic languages through a process where the alveolar R was weakened and then replaced by an imitation of the alveolar R (vocalisation).[3] As counterevidence against the "French origin" theory, it is stipulated that there are many signs that the uvular R existed in certain German dialects long before the 17th century.[citation needed]

Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Afrikaans Parts of the former Cape Province[4] rooi [ʀoːi̯] 'red' May be a fricative [ʁ] instead.[4] See Afrikaans phonology
Catalan Some northern dialects[5] rrer [koˈʀe] 'to run' See Catalan phonology
Dutch[6][7][8][9] Belgian Limburg[10][11] rood About this sound [ʀo:t]  'red' More commonly a tap.[12] Uvular pronunciations appear to be gaining ground in the Randstad.[13] Realization of /r/ varies considerably among dialects. See Dutch phonology
Central Netherlands[14]
Southern Netherlands[14]
Flemish Brabant[11] More commonly a tap.[12] It is one of the least common realizations of /r/ in these areas.[15] See Dutch phonology
Northern Netherlands[14]
West Flanders[11]
English Cape Flats dialect[16] red [ʀɛd] 'red' Possible realization of /r/; may be [ɹ ~ ɹ̝ ~ ɾ ~ r] instead.[16]
Northumbrian dialect[17] More often a fricative.[17] Dialectal "Northumbrian Burr", mostly found in eastern Northumberland, declining. See English phonology
Sierra Leonean[17] More often a fricative.[17]
French[18] rendez-vous About this sound [ʀɑ̃devu]  'appointment' Dialectal. More commonly an approximant or a fricative [ʁ]. See French phonology
German Standard[19] rot About this sound [ˈʀoːt]  'red' In free variation with a voiced uvular fricative and approximant. See German phonology
Hebrew ירוק [jaˈʀok] 'green' May also be a fricative or approximant. See Modern Hebrew phonology
Italian[20] Northern dialects[21] raro [ˈʀäːʀo] 'rare' Some speakers, especially in Parma. May also be a fricative [ʁ] or a labiodental approximant [ʋ].[21]
Judaeo-Spanish mujer [muˈʒɛʀ] 'woman', 'wife'
Luxembourgish Older speakers[22] Mauer [ˈmɑ̝ʊ̯əʀ] 'wall' Realized as [ə ~ ɐ] by younger speakers.[22] See Luxembourgish phonology
Standard[23] Rou [ʀəu̯] 'silence' Pre-vocalic allophone of /ʀ/; less often realized as a fricative [ʁ].[22] See Luxembourgish phonology
Occitan Eastern garric [ɡaʀi] 'oak' Contrasts with alveolar trill ([ɡari] 'cured')
Provençal parts [paʀ] 'parts' See Occitan phonology
Southern Auvergnat garçon [ɡaʀˈsu] 'son'
Southeastern Limousin filh [fʲiʀ]
Portuguese European[24] rarear [ʀəɾiˈaɾ] 'to get scarcer' Alternates with other uvular forms and the older alveolar trill. See Portuguese phonology
Fluminense[25] mercado [me̞ʀˈkaðu] 'market', 'fair' Tendency to be replaced by fricative pronunciations. In coda position, it is generally in free variation with [x], [χ], [ʁ], [ħ] and [h] before non-voicing environments
Sulista[25] repolho [ʀe̞ˈpoʎ̟ʊ] 'cabbage'
Romani Some dialects rom [ʀom] 'man' Allophone of a descendant of the Indic retroflex set, so often transcribed /ɽ/. A coronal flap, approximant or trill in other dialects; in some it merges with /r/
Selkup Northern dialects [ˈqaʀlɪ̈] 'sledge' Allophone of /q/ before liquids
Sioux Lakota[26][27] ǧí [ʀí] 'it's brown' Allophone of /ʁ/ before /i/
Sotho Regional variant moriri [moʀiʀi] 'hair' Imported from French missionaries. See Sesotho phonology
Swedish Southern[28] räv [ʀɛːv] 'fox' See Swedish phonology
Yiddish Standard[29] בריק [bʀɪk] 'bridge' More commonly a flap [ʀ̆]; can be alveolar [ɾ ~ r] instead.[29] See Yiddish phonology

Voiced uvular raised non-sonorant trill

Voiced uvular raised non-sonorant trill
IPA number 123 429


Features of the voiced uvular raised non-sonorant trill:


It is phonemic in the Maastrichtian and Weert dialects of Limburgish, though in neither of these does it contrast with a plain uvular trill.[30][31]

Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Danish[32] rød [ʀ̝ɶð̞] 'red' Word-initial allophone of /ʁ/, used only sometimes when emphasising a word.[32] Otherwise a continuant, described variously as uvular [ʁ] and pharyngeal [ʕ]. See Danish phonology
Dutch Belgian[33] sturen [ˈstÿːʀ̝ə(n)] 'to send' Only when following a vowel, otherwise it is voiceless.[34] Realization of /r/ varies considerably among dialects. See Dutch phonology
Limburgish Maastrichtian[30] drei [dʀ̝ɛi̯] 'three' Either uvular [ʀ̝] or pre-uvular [ʀ̝˖].[30][31]
Weert dialect[31] drej [dʀ̝æj]
Portuguese Lisbon[32] ritmo [ˈʀ̝it̪mu] 'rhythm' Common realization of word-initial /ʀ/.[32] See Portuguese phonology
West Flemish Bruges dialect[35] onder [ˈuŋəʀ̝] 'under' A trill with little friction. An alveolar [r] is used in the neighbouring rural area.[35]

See also


  1. Map based on Trudgill (1974:220) and (for Italy) Canepari (1999:486)
  2. Trudgill (1974:221), citing Moulton (1952), Ewert (1963), and Martinet (1969)
  3. Bisiada (2009).
  4. 4.0 4.1 Donaldson (1993), p. 15.
  5. Wheeler (2005), pp. 24.
  6. Booij (1999), p. 8.
  7. Collins & Mees (2003), pp. 42, 54, 77, 165, 199–200.
  8. Goeman & van de Velde (2001), pp. 91–92, 94–97, 99–104.
  9. Verstraten & van de Velde (2001), pp. 45–46, 51, 53–55, 58.
  10. Verhoeven (2005), pp. 243 and 245.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 Verstraten & van de Velde (2001), p. 52.
  12. 12.0 12.1 Collins & Mees (2003), p. 42.
  13. Collins & Mees (2003), p. 209.
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 Verstraten & van de Velde (2001), p. 54.
  15. Verstraten & van de Velde (2001), pp. 52 and 54.
  16. 16.0 16.1 Finn (2004), p. 976.
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 17.3 Ladefoged & Maddieson (1996), p. 236.
  18. Grevisse & Goosse (2008), pp. 22–36.
  19. Hall (1993), p. 89.
  20. Ladefoged & Maddieson (1996), p. 225.
  21. 21.0 21.1 Canepari (1999), pp. 98–101.
  22. 22.0 22.1 22.2 Gilles & Trouvain (2013), p. 68.
  23. Gilles & Trouvain (2013), pp. 67–68.
  24. Mateus & d'Andrade (2000), p. 11.
  25. 25.0 25.1 Acoustic analysis of vibrants in Brazilian Portuguese (Portuguese)
  26. Rood & Taylor (1996).
  27. Lakota Language Consortium (2004). Lakota letters and sounds.
  28. Ladefoged & Maddieson (1996:225–226)
  29. 29.0 29.1 Kleine (2003:263)
  30. 30.0 30.1 30.2 Gussenhoven & Aarts (1999), p. 156.
  31. 31.0 31.1 31.2 Heijmans & Gussenhoven (1998), p. 108.
  32. 32.0 32.1 32.2 32.3 Grønnum (2005), p. 157.
  33. Tops (2009), pp. 25, 30-32, 63, 80-88, 97-100, 105, 118, 124-127, 134-135, 137-138 and 140-141.
  34. Tops (2009), p. 83.
  35. 35.0 35.1 Hinskens & Taeldeman (2013), p. 167.


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