Uvular trill

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Not to be confused with Alveolar trill.

Voiced uvular trill[edit]

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.

Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Afrikaans Some dialects rooi [ʀoːɪ̯] 'red'
Catalan[4] Some northern dialects rrer [koˈʀe] 'to run' See Catalan phonology
Dutch[5][6][7][8][9] Belgian Limburg[8][10] rad About this sound [ʀɑt]  'wheel' More commonly a tap.[11] Uvular pronunciations appear to be gaining ground in the Randstad.[12] Realization of /r/ varies considerably among dialects. See Dutch phonology
Central Netherlands[13]
Southern Netherlands[13]
Flemish Brabant[10] More commonly a tap.[11] It's one of the least common realizations of /r/ in these areas.[14] See Dutch phonology
Northern Netherlands[13]
West Flanders[10]
English Northumbrian dialect[15] red [ʀɛd] 'red' More often a fricative.[15] Dialectal "Northumbrian Burr", mostly found in eastern Northumberland, declining. See English phonology
Sierra Leonean[15] More often a fricative.[15]
French[16] rendez-vous About this sound [ʀɑ̃devu]  'appointment' Dialectal. More commonly an approximant or a fricative [ʁ]. See French phonology
German Standard[17] Rübe [ˈʀÿːbə] 'turnip' 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
Judaeo-Spanish mujer [muˈʒɛʀ] 'woman', 'wife'
Italian[18] Northern dialects[19] raro [ˈʀaːʀo] 'rare' Some speakers, especially in Parma.[19] May also be a fricative [ʁ] or a labiodental approximant [ʋ].[19]
Occitan Eastern dialects garric [ɡaʀi] 'oak' Contrasts with alveolar trill ([ɡari] 'cured')
Provençal dialect parts [paʀ] 'parts' See Occitan phonology
Southern Auvergnat dialect garçon [ɡaʀˈsu] 'son'
Southeastern Limousin dialect filh [fʲiʀ]
Portuguese European[20] rarear [ʀəɾiˈaɾ] 'to get scarcer' Alternates with other uvular forms and the older alveolar trill. See Portuguese phonology
Fluminense[21] mercado [me̞ʀˈkaðu] 'market', 'fair' Tendency to be replaced by fricative pronunciations with time. If as coda, generally in free variation with [x], [χ], [ʁ], [ħ] and [h] before non-voicing environments
Sulista[21] 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/
Sioux Lakota[22][23] ǧí [ʀí] 'it's brown' Allophone of /ʁ/ before /i/
Selkup Northern dialects [ˈqaʀlɪ̈] 'sledge' Allophone of /q/ before liquids
Sotho Most speakers moriri [moʀiʀi] 'hair' See Sesotho phonology
Swedish Southern[24] räv [ʀɛːv] 'fox' See Swedish phonology

Voiced uvular raised non-sonorant trill[edit]

Voiced uvular raised non-sonorant trill
IPA number 123 429


Features of the voiced uvular raised non-sonorant trill:


Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Dutch Belgian[25] sturen [ˈstÿːʀ̝ə(n)] 'to send' Only when following a vowel,[26] otherwise it's voiceless.[26] Realization of /r/ varies considerably among dialects. See Dutch phonology
Limburgish Maastrichtian[27] drei [dʀ̝ɛi̯] 'three' Partially devoiced in coda;[27][28] may be pre-uvular instead.[27][28]
Weert dialect[28] [dʀ̝æj]
Pre-uvular (post-velar)
Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Limburgish Maastrichtian[27] drei [dʀ̝˖ɛi̯] 'three' Partially devoiced in coda;[27][28] may be uvular instead.[27][28]
Weert dialect[28] [dʀ̝˖æj]

See also[edit]


  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. ^ Wheeler (2005), pp. 24.
  5. ^ Booij (1999), p. 8.
  6. ^ Collins & Mees (2003), pp. 42, 54, 77, 165, 199–200.
  7. ^ Goeman & Van de Velde (2001), pp. 91–92, 94–97, 99–104.
  8. ^ a b Verhoeven (2005), pp. 243 and 245.
  9. ^ Verstraten & Van de Velde (2001), pp. 45–46, 51, 53–55, 58.
  10. ^ a b c Verstraten & Van de Velde (2001), p. 52.
  11. ^ a b Collins & Mees (2003), p. 42.
  12. ^ Collins & Mees (2003), p. 209.
  13. ^ a b c d Verstraten & Van de Velde (2001), p. 54.
  14. ^ Verstraten & Van de Velde (2001), pp. 52 and 54.
  15. ^ a b c d Ladefoged & Maddieson (1996), p. 236.
  16. ^ Grevisse & Goosse (2008), pp. 22–36.
  17. ^ Hall (1993), p. 89.
  18. ^ Ladefoged & Maddieson (1996), p. 225.
  19. ^ a b c Canepari (1999), pp. 98–101.
  20. ^ Mateus & d'Andrade (2000), p. 11.
  21. ^ a b Acoustic analysis of vibrants in Brazilian Portuguese (Portuguese)
  22. ^ Rood & Taylor (1996).
  23. ^ Lakota Language Consortium (2004). Lakota letters and sounds.
  24. ^ Ladefoged & Maddieson (1996:225–226)
  25. ^ Tops (2009), pp. 25, 30-32, 63, 80-88, 97-100, 105, 118, 124-127, 134-135, 137-138 and 140-141.
  26. ^ a b Tops (2009), p. 83.
  27. ^ a b c d e f Gussenhoven & Aarts (1999), p. 156.
  28. ^ a b c d e f Heijmans & Gussenhoven (1998), p. 108.