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. That is partly for ease of typesetting and partly because ⟨r⟩ is the letter used in the orthographies of such languages.

In most Indo-European languages, the sound is at least occasionally allophonic with an alveolar tap [ɾ], particularly in unstressed positions. Exceptions include Albanian, Spanish, Cypriot Greek, and a number of Armenian and Portuguese dialects, which treat them as distinct phonemes. In a few languages, such as Batsbi, the tap is the vastly preferred allophone, to such a degree that it is treated as a phoneme whilst the trill is not.[citation needed]

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

Voiced alveolar trill[edit]

Alveolar trill
IPA Number122
Entity (decimal)r
Unicode (hex)U+0072
Braille⠗ (braille pattern dots-1235)
Audio sample

Most commonly, the alveolar trill is voiced.


Features of the alveolar trill:


A trill extended for about 2 seconds by a non-native user, captured in slow motion to reveal the individual 36~44Hz tongue oscillations.


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
Arabic Modern Standard راء [raːʔ] Resh [ɾ] in Egyptian
Armenian Eastern[8] ռումբ About this sound[rumb]  'cannonball'
Bengali রা [rat̪] 'night' Occurs word-initially; as against [ɾ], which occurs medially and finally. See Bengali phonology
Breton roue [ruːe] 'king' Dominant in and around Léon and Morbihan while many other dialects have adopted the voiced uvular fricative. See Breton phonology
Czech[9] chlor [xlɔ̝ːr] 'chlorine' Contrasts with /r̝/; may be syllabic. See Czech phonology
Danish Few speakers of the Jutlandic dialect[10] [example needed] Corresponds to much more back [ʁ ~ ʕ] in standard Danish. See Danish phonology
Dutch Standard raam [raːm] 'window'
English Scottish curd [kʌrd] 'curd' Only some dialects. Corresponds to [ɾ ~ ɹ] in others. See English phonology
Esperanto Esperanto [espeˈranto] 'who hopes' Usually a flap [ɾ]. See Esperanto phonology
Finnish raaka [rɑ:kɑ] 'raw' See Finnish phonology
Greek Standard[11] άρτος [ˈartos] 'Communion bread' Allophone of /r/. Usual in clusters, otherwise a tap or an approximant.[11] See Modern Greek phonology
Cypriot[12][13] βορράς [voˈrːas] 'north' Contrasts with /ɾ/.
Hebrew Sephardi ריש [ˈreʃ] 'Resh' See Sephardi Hebrew
Hindustani पत्थ / پتھر [pət̪t̪ʰər] 'stone' See Hindustani phonology
Indonesia getar [gətar] 'vibrate' See Indonesian phonology
Italian[14] terra About this sound[ˈt̪ɛrːä]  'earth' See Italian phonology
Kele[15] [ⁿrikei] 'leg'
Kyrgyz[16] ыр [ɯr] 'song'
Latvian[17] rags [räks̪] 'horn' See Latvian phonology
Malay kurang [kuräŋ] 'less'
Polish[18] krok About this sound[krɔk]  'step' See Polish phonology
Portuguese rato [ratu] 'mouse' Contrasts with /ɾ/. Many northern dialects retain the alveolar trill, and the trill is still dominant in rural areas. See Portuguese phonology and Guttural R.
Scots bricht [brɪçt] 'bright'
Scottish Gaelic ceart [kʲarˠʃd] 'true' Pronounced as a trill at the beginning of a word, or as rr, or before consonants d, t, l, n, s; otherwise a voiced alveolar tap. Contrasts with /ɾʲ/ and /ɾ/ intervocally and word-finally. See Scottish Gaelic phonology
Serbo-Croatian[19][20] рт / rt [r̩t] 'cape' May be syllabic.[21] See Serbo-Croatian phonology
Slovak[22] krk [kr̩k] 'neck' May be a tap, particularly when not syllabic.
Slovene[23] r [ríːʃ] 'rice' Also described as tap [ɾ],[24] and variable between trill [r] and tap [ɾ].[25] See Slovene phonology
Spanish[26] perro About this sound[ˈpe̞ro̞]  'dog' Contrasts with /ɾ/. See Spanish phonology
Swedish Some West coast dialects bra [brɑː] 'good' Allophone of /ɹ/. Very common in Gothenburg, second-largest city in Sweden, and the surrounding areas. See Swedish phonology
Tagalog rambutan [rɐmbuˈtan] 'rambutan' Allophone of the more common [ɾ], especially with more conservative speakers.[27] See Tagalog phonology
Titan[15] [ⁿrakeiʔin] 'girls'
Ukrainian рух [rux] 'motion' See Ukrainian phonology
Welsh Rhagfyr [ˈr̥aɡvɨr] 'December' Contrasts with the voiceless alveolar trill, /r̥/. See Welsh phonology
Yiddish Standard[28] בריק [brɪk] 'bridge' More commonly a flap [ɾ]; can be uvular [ɢ̆ ~ ʀ] instead.[28] See Yiddish phonology
Zapotec Tilquiapan[29] r-ree [rɘˀɘ] 'go out (habitually)' Underlyingly two sequences of /ɾ/.


Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Catalan[30] roba [ˈr̠ɔβ̞ə] 'clothes' Contrasts with /ɾ/. See Catalan phonology
Gokana[31] 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.[31]
Russian[6] играть [ɪˈɡr̠ätʲ] 'to play' Contrasts with a palatalized dental trill. See Russian phonology


Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
German Standard[32] Schmarrn [ʃmaːrn] 'nonsense' Varies between apical dental and apical alveolar; may be a tap instead.[32] See Standard German phonology

Voiced alveolar fricative trill [edit]

Voiced alveolar fricative trill
IPA Number122 429
Audio sample

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] but is laminal and the body of the tongue is raised. It is thus partially fricative, with the frication sounding rather like [ʒ] but less retracted. It sounds like a simultaneous [r] and [ʒ], and non-native speakers may pronounce it as [rʐ] or [ɹʒ]. In the IPA, it is typically written as ⟨r⟩ plus the raising diacritic, ⟨⟩, but it has also been written as laminal ⟨⟩.[33] (Before the 1989 IPA Kiel Convention, it had a dedicated symbol ⟨ɼ⟩.) The Kobon language of Papua New Guinea also has a fricative trill, but the degree of frication is variable.


Features of the voiced alveolar fricative trill:


Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Czech[34][35][36][37] čtyři About this sound[ˈt͡ʃtɪr̝ɪ]  'four' May be a non-sibilant fricative.[35] It contrasts with /r/ and /ʒ/. See Czech phonology
Kashubian[38] [example needed] Only some northern and northwestern speakers.[38]
Kobon [example needed] Amount of frication variable. May also be a fricative flap[citation needed]
Polish Some dialects[39] rzeka 'river' Contrasts with /r/ and /ʐ/. Present in areas from Starogard Gdański to Malbork[39] and those south, west and northwest of them,[39] area from Lubawa to Olsztyn to Olecko to Działdowo,[39] south and east from Wieleń,[39] around Wołomin,[39] southeast from Ostrów Mazowiecka[39] and west from Siedlce,[39] from Brzeg to Opole and those north of them,[39] and roughly from Racibórz to Nowy Targ.[39] Most speakers, as well as standard Polish merge it with /ʐ/,[39] and speakers maintaining the distinction (which is mostly the elderly) sporadically do that too.[39] See Polish phonology
Portuguese[40] os rins [u ˈr̝ĩʃ] 'the kidneys' Possible realization of the sequence /sr/ for speakers who realize /r/ as [r].[40] See Portuguese phonology
Silesian Gmina Istebna[41] umrz [ˈumr̝iw] '(he) died' Contrasts with /r/ and /ʒ/. Merges with /ʐ/ in most Polish dialects.
Jablunkov[41] [example needed]
Slovak Northern dialects[39][42] řyka [ˈr̝ɪkä] 'river' Only in a few dialects near the Polish border.[39] See Slovak phonology

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Chaubal & Dixit (2011), pp. 270–272.
  2. ^ Mayo Clinic (2012).
  3. ^ Ladefoged & Maddieson (1996), p. 228.
  4. ^ Siptár & Törkenczy (2000), pp. 75–76, Szende (1999), p. 104
  5. ^ Ovidiu Drăghici, Limba Română contemporană. Fonetică. Fonologie. Ortografie. Lexicologie (PDF), retrieved April 19, 2013[dead link]
  6. ^ a b c Skalozub (1963), p. ?; cited in Ladefoged & Maddieson (1996), p. 221
  7. ^ a b Lass (1987), p. 117.
  8. ^ Dum-Tragut (2009), p. 19.
  9. ^ Pultrová (2013), p. 22.
  10. ^ Torp (2001), p. 78.
  11. ^ a b Arvaniti (2007), pp. 14–18
  12. ^ Arvaniti (2010), pp. 3–4.
  13. ^ "βορράς", Cypriot Greek Lexicographic Database, Ερευνητικό Πρόγραμμα Συντυσές, 2011, retrieved 5 March 2014
  14. ^ Rogers & d'Arcangeli (2004), p. 117.
  15. ^ a b Ladefoged (2005), p. 165
  16. ^ Kara (2003), p. 11.
  17. ^ Nau (1998), p. 6.
  18. ^ Jassem (2003), p. 103.
  19. ^ Kordić (2006), p. 5.
  20. ^ Landau et al. (1999), p. 66.
  21. ^ Kordić (2006), p. 4.
  22. ^ Hanulíková & Hamann (2010), p. 374.
  23. ^ Pretnar & Tokarz (1980), p. 21.
  24. ^ Šuštaršič, Komar & Petek (1999), p. 135.
  25. ^ Greenberg (2006), pp. 17 and 20.
  26. ^ Martínez-Celdrán, Fernández-Planas & Carrera-Sabaté (2003), p. 255.
  27. ^ Schachter and Reid (2008)
  28. ^ a b Kleine (2003), p. 263
  29. ^ Merrill (2008), p. 109.
  30. ^ Recasens & Pallarès (1995), p. 288.
  31. ^ a b L.F. Brosnahan, Outlines of the phonology of the Gokana dialect of Ogoni (PDF), archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-04-03, retrieved 2013-11-24
  32. ^ a b Mangold (2005), p. 53
  33. ^ For example, Ladefoged (1971).
  34. ^ Dankovičová (1999), pp. 70–71
  35. ^ a b Ladefoged & Maddieson (1996), pp. 228–230 and 233
  36. ^ Lodge (2009), p. 46.
  37. ^ Šimáčková, Podlipský & Chládková (2012), p. 226
  38. ^ a b Jerzy Treder. "Fonetyka i fonologia". Archived from the original on 2016-03-04.
  39. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Gwary polskie - Frykatywne rż (ř),, archived from the original on 2013-03-13, retrieved 2013-11-06
  40. ^ a b Grønnum (2005), p. 157
  41. ^ a b Dąbrowska (2004), p. ?
  42. ^ Dudášová-Kriššáková (1995), pp. 98.


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External links[edit]