Voiced uvular fricative

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Voiced uvular fricative
IPA number 143
Entity (decimal) ʁ
Unicode (hex) U+0281
Kirshenbaum g"
Braille ⠔ (braille pattern dots-35) ⠼ (braille pattern dots-3456)
Voiced 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⟩.

For a voiced pre-uvular fricative (also called post-velar), see voiced velar fricative.


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[citation needed] to several dialects and registers of Basque,[2] Catalan, Danish, Dutch, German, Hebrew, Judaeo-Spanish, Norwegian, Occitan, Portuguese, Swedish, and Yiddish. However, not all of these remain a uvular trill today. In Brazilian Portuguese, it is usually a velar fricative ([x], [ɣ]), voiceless uvular fricative [χ], or glottal transition ([h], [ɦ]), 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.

Ladefoged & Maddieson (1996) note that "There is (...) a complication in the case of uvular fricatives in that the shape of the vocal tract may be such that the uvula vibrates."[3] See voiced uvular raised non-sonorant trill for more information.

Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Abkhaz цыҕ [tsəʁ] 'marten' See Abkhaz phonology
Adyghe тыгъэ ğă About this sound [təʁa]  'sun'
Afrikaans Parts of the former Cape Province[4] rooi [ʁoːi̯] 'red' May be a trill [ʀ] instead.[4] See Afrikaans phonology
Aleut Atkan dialect chamĝul [tʃɑmʁul] 'to wash'
Arabic Modern Standard[5] غرفة [ˈʁurfɐ] 'room' May be velar, post-velar or uvular, depending on dialect.[6] See Arabic phonology
Archi гъӀабос [ʁˤabos][1] 'croak'
Armenian Eastern[7] ղեկ About this sound [ʁɛk]  'rudder'
Avar тIагъур [tʼaˈʁur] 'cap'
Berber Kabyle ⴱⴻ
[bːəʁ] 'to dive'
Chilcotin [ʁəlkɪʃ] 'he walks'
Danish Standard[8] rød [ʁ̞ɶð̞] 'red' Most often an approximant when initial.[9] In other positions, it can be either a fricative (also described as voiceless [χ]) or an approximant[8] Also described as pharyngeal [ʕ̞].[10] See Danish phonology
Dutch[11][12][13][14] Belgian Limburg[15][16] rad [ʁɑt] 'wheel' Either a fricative or an approximant.[13][15][14][17][18] Realization of /r/ varies considerably among dialects. See Dutch phonology
Central Netherlands[19]
East Flanders[16]
Northern Netherlands[19]
Southern Netherlands[19]
English Dyfed[20] red [ʁɛd] 'red' Not all speakers.[20] Alveolar in other Welsh accents.
North-east Leinster[21] Corresponds to [ɹ ~ ɾ ~ ɻ] in other Irish dialects.
Northumbrian dialect[22][23] Described both as a fricative[22] and an approximant.[23] More rarely it's a trill [ʀ].[22] Mostly found in eastern Northumberland, declining. See English phonology and Northumbrian Burr.
Sierra Leonean[22] More rarely a trill [ʀ].[22]
French rester [ʁɛste] 'to stay' See French phonology
German Chemnitz dialect[24] Rock [ʁɔkʰ] 'skirt' Either a fricative or an approximant;[24] in free variation with [ʀ̥], [χ] and [q].[24] Doesn't occur in the coda.[24] See Chemnitz dialect phonology
Lower Rhine[25] Rost [ʁɔst] 'rust' Either a fricative or, more often, an approximant. In free variation with a uvular trill. See German phonology
Swabian[26] [ʁ̞oʃt] An approximant.[26] It's the realization of /ʁ/ in onsets,[26] otherwise it's an epiglottal approximant.[26]
Hebrew רע [ʁa] 'bad' May also be trilled. See Modern Hebrew phonology
Inuktitut East Inuktitut dialect marruuk [mɑʁʁuuk] 'two'
Italian Northern dialects[27] raro [ˈʁäːʁo] 'rare' Some speakers, especially in Parma. May also be a trill [ʀ] or a labiodental approximant [ʋ].[27]
Kabardian бгъэ About this sound [bʁa]  'eagle'
Kazakh саған sağan [sɑˈʁɑn] 'you (singular dative)'
Kyrgyz жамгыр [dʒɑmˈʁɯr] 'rain'
Lakota aǧúyapi [aʁʊjapɪ] 'bread'
Luxembourgish Some speakers[28] Rou [ʁəu̯] 'silence' Pre-vocalic allophone of /ʀ/; more often realized as a trill [ʀ].[28] See Luxembourgish phonology
Standard[28] Kugel [ˈkʰuːʁəl] 'ball' Also described as velar [ɣ].[29] Appears only in a few words.[28][29] See Luxembourgish phonology
Malay Perak dialect Perak [peʁɑk̚] 'Perak' See Malay phonology
Norwegian Southern dialects rar [ʁ̞ɑːʁ̞] 'strange' Either an approximant or a fricative. See Norwegian phonology
Southwestern dialects
Portuguese European[30] carro [ˈkaʁu] 'car' See Portuguese phonology
Setubalense[31] ruralizar [ʁuʁəɫiˈzaʁ] 'to ruralize' Often trilled. Due to a merger, corresponds to both /ɾ/ and /ʁ/ in other dialects.
Fluminense[31][32] ardência [ɐʁˈdẽsjə] 'burning feeling' Due to French influence, Rio de Janeiro's dialect merged coda /ɾ/ into /ʁ/.[33] Often trilled. In free variation with [ɣ], [ʕ] and [ɦ] before voiced sounds, [x], [χ], [ħ] and [h] before voiceless consonants
Sulista arroz [ɐˈʁos] 'rice'
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 oir [ɒˈʁɨr] 'heavy'
Yakut тоҕус tog‘us [toʁus] 'nine'
Zhuang roek [ʁɔ̌k] 'six'

See also


  1. Based on the approximant ⟨ɹ⟩ and the general tendency to rotate letters in the IPA rather than invert them, ⟨⟩ might be expected. However, early in the history of the IPA, that letter had been used for the voiceless fricative, now written ⟨χ⟩, paralleling ⟨ᴙ ʀ⟩ for the voiceless and voiced trills.
  2. Grammar of Basque, page 30, José Ignacio Hualde, Jon Ortiz De Urbina, Walter de Gruyter, 2003
  3. Ladefoged & Maddieson (1996:167)
  4. 4.0 4.1 Donaldson (1993), p. 15.
  5. Watson (2002), pp. 17.
  6. Watson (2002), pp. 17, 19-20, 35-36 and 38.
  7. Dum-Tragut (2009:13)
  8. 8.0 8.1 Basbøll (2005:62)
  9. Basbøll (2005:66)
  10. Ladefoged & Maddieson (1996:323)
  11. Booij (1999:8)
  12. Collins & Mees (2003:39, 54, 179, 196, 199–201, 291)
  13. 13.0 13.1 Goeman & van de Velde (2001:91–92, 94–95, 97, 99, 101–104, 107–108)
  14. 14.0 14.1 Verstraten & van de Velde (2001:51–55)
  15. 15.0 15.1 Verhoeven (2005:245)
  16. 16.0 16.1 Verstraten & van de Velde (2001:52)
  17. Collins & Mees (2003:39, 54, 179, 196, 199–201, 291)
  18. Goeman & van de Velde (2001:91–92, 94–95, 97, 102)
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 19.3 Verstraten & van de Velde (2001:54)
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 Wells (1982:390)
  21. Hickey (2007:?)[page needed]
  22. 22.0 22.1 22.2 22.3 22.4 Ladefoged & Maddieson (1996:236)
  23. 23.0 23.1 Ogden (2009:93)
  24. 24.0 24.1 24.2 24.3 Khan & Weise (2013:235)
  25. 25.0 25.1 Hall (1993:89)
  26. 26.0 26.1 26.2 26.3 Markus Hiller. "Pharyngeals and "lax" vowel quality" (PDF). Mannheim: Institut für Deutsche Sprache.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  27. 27.0 27.1 Canepari (1999), pp. 98–101.
  28. 28.0 28.1 28.2 28.3 Gilles & Trouvain (2013), p. 68.
  29. 29.0 29.1 Trouvain & Gilles (2009), p. 75.
  30. Cruz-Ferreira (1995:92)
  31. 31.0 31.1 (Portuguese) Rhotic consonants in the speech of three municipalities of Rio de Janeiro: Petrópolis, Itaperuna and Paraty. Page 11.
  32. (Portuguese) The process of Norm change for the good pronunciation of the Portuguese language in chant and dramatics in Brazil during 1938, 1858 and 2007 Page 36.
  33. (Portuguese) The acoustic-articulatory path of the lateral palatal consonant's allophony. Pages 229 and 230.


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