Alveolar lateral flap

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Alveolar lateral flap
IPA number 181
Entity (decimal) ɺ
Unicode (hex) U+027A
Kirshenbaum *<lat>
Braille ⠦ (braille pattern dots-236) ⠼ (braille pattern dots-3456)

The alveolar lateral flap is a type of consonantal sound, used in some spoken languages. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is ɺ, a fusion of a rotated lowercase letter r with a letter l.

Some languages which are described as having a lateral flap, such as Japanese, actually have a flap which is indeterminate as to centrality, and may surface as either central or lateral, either depending on surrounding vowels or in free variation.


Features of the alveolar lateral flap:

  • Its manner of articulation is flap, which means it is produced with a single contraction of the muscles so that one articulator (usually the tongue) is thrown against another.
  • Its place of articulation is alveolar, which means it is articulated with either the tip or the blade of the tongue at the alveolar ridge, termed respectively apical and laminal.
  • Its phonation is voiced, which means the vocal cords vibrate during the articulation. However, in some languages, such as Swiss German, it can just mean that this consonant is pronounced shorter and weaker than its voiceless counterpart, while its voicedness or lack thereof is not relevant. In such cases it's more accurate to call such sounds lenis or lax.
  • It is an oral consonant, which means air is allowed to escape through the mouth only.
  • It is a lateral consonant, which means it is produced by directing the airstream over the sides of the tongue, rather than down the middle.
  • The airstream mechanism is pulmonic, which means it is articulated by pushing air solely with the lungs and diaphragm, as in most sounds.


Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Iwaidja[citation needed] aranngu [aɺ̠aɳu] 'soup (esp. with noodles)' Casual register only. Formal: aranngixwia (/aɺ˞aɳiɣja/)
Pirahã toogixi [tòːɺ͡ɺ̼ìʔì] 'hoe' Only used in some types of speech
Wayuu püülükü [pɯːɺɯkɯ] 'pig' Contrasts with /r/

See also[edit]