Voiced dental and alveolar taps and flaps

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The voiced alveolar tap or flap is a type of consonantal sound, used in some spoken languages. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents a dental, alveolar, or postalveolar tap or flap is ⟨ɾ⟩.

The terms tap and flap are often used interchangeably. Peter Ladefoged proposed the distinction that a tap strikes its point of contact directly, as a very brief stop, and a flap strikes the point of contact tangentially: "Flaps are most typically made by retracting the tongue tip behind the alveolar ridge and moving it forward so that it strikes the ridge in passing."[1] That distinction between the alveolar tap and flap can be written in the IPA with tap ⟨ɾ⟩ and flap ⟨ɽ⟩, the 'retroflex' symbol being used for the one that starts with the tongue tip curled back behind the alveolar ridge. The distinction is noticeable in the speech of some American English speakers in distinguishing the words "potty" (tap [ɾ]) and "party" (flap [ɽ]).

For linguists who make the distinction, the coronal tap (as in Spanish pero) is transcribed with ⟨ɾ⟩, and the flap (as in American English ladder) is transcribed with a non-IPA symbol ⟨ᴅ⟩ (not to be confused with the IPA symbol ⟨ɒ⟩, which stands for the open back rounded vowel). Otherwise, alveolars and dentals are typically called taps and other articulations flaps. No language contrasts a tap and a flap at the same place of articulation.

The sound is often analyzed and thus interpreted by non-native English-speakers as an 'R-sound' in many foreign languages. In languages for which the segment is present but not phonemic, it is often an allophone of either an alveolar stop ([t], [d], or both) or a rhotic consonant (like the alveolar trill or the alveolar approximant).

If the alveolar tap is the only rhotic consonant in the language, it may be transcribed with ⟨r⟩ although that symbol technically represents the trill.

The voiced alveolar tapped fricative reported from some languages is actually a very brief voiced alveolar non-sibilant fricative.

Voiced alveolar tap and flap[edit]

Voiced alveolar tap or flap
IPA Number124
Entity (decimal)ɾ
Unicode (hex)U+027E
Braille⠖ (braille pattern dots-235)⠗ (braille pattern dots-1235)
Audio sample


Alveolar flap.svg

Features of the voiced alveolar tap or flap:


Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Arabic Egyptian[2] رجل [ɾeɡl] 'leg' Contrasts with emphatic form. See Egyptian Arabic phonology
Lebanese إجر [ʔəʒəɾ] 'wages'
Moroccan رم / rma [ɾma] 'he threw'
Armenian Eastern[3] րոպե About this sound[ɾopɛ]  'minute' Contrasts with /r/ in all positions.
Assyrian ܪܝܫܐ rìsha [ɾiʃa] 'head' Contrasts with ‘dark’ R.
Basque begiratu [beˈɣiɾaˌtu] 'look' Contrasts with /r/. See Basque phonology
Bengali আবা [abaɾ] 'again' Corresponds to [r ~ ɹ] in others and may occur word-medially and finally against [r]. See Bengali phonology
Catalan[4] truc [ˈtɾuk] 'trick' Contrasts with /r/. See Catalan phonology
Danish[5][6] nordisk [ˈnoɐ̯ɾisk] 'Nordic' Possible realization of intervocalic /d/ between phonetic vowels.[5][6] See Danish phonology
English Cockney[7] better [ˈbe̞ɾə] 'better' Intervocalic allophone of /t/. In free variation with [ʔ ~ ~ ]. See Flapping
Australian[8] [ˈbeɾə] Intervocalic allophone of /t/, and also /d/ for some Australians. Used more often in Australia than in New Zealand. See Australian English phonology and Flapping
New Zealand[9] [ˈbeɾɘ]
Dublin[10] About this sound[ˈbɛɾɚ]  Intervocalic allophone of /t/ and /d/, present in many dialects. In Local Dublin it can be [ɹ] instead, unlike New and Mainstream. See English phonology and Flapping
North America[11]
West Country
Irish three [θɾiː] 'three' Conservative accents. Corresponds to [ɹ ~ ɻ ~ ʁ] in other accents.
Scottish[12] Most speakers. Others use [ɹ ~ r].
Older Received Pronunciation[13] Allophone of /ɹ/
South African[12] Broad speakers. Can be [ɹ ~ r] instead
Esperanto Esperanto [espeˈɾanto] 'one who hopes' Usually a flap [ɾ], but can be a trilled r. See Esperanto phonology
Greek[14] μηρός / mirós [miˈɾ̠o̞s] 'thigh' Somewhat retracted. Most common realization of /r/. See Modern Greek phonology
Hindustani मेरा / میرا [meːɾaː] 'My' Allophone of /r/ in intervocalic position. See Hindustani phonology.
Kinyarwanda Rwanda [ɾwɑː.ndɑ] 'Rwanda'
Japanese[dubious ] /こころ kokoro About this sound[ko̞ko̞ɾo̞]  'heart' [15] Varies with [ɺ].[16] See Japanese phonology
Korean 여름 / yeoreum [jʌɾɯm] 'summer' Allophone of /l/ between vowels or between a vowel and an /h/
Malay Johor-Riau[disambiguation needed] راتوس / ratus [ɾä.tos] 'hundred' Common realisation of /r/. May be trill [r] or postalveolar approximant [ɹ̠]. See Malay phonology
Māori whare [ɸaɾɛ] 'house' Sometimes trilled.
Nepali[17] तारा [t̪äɾä] 'star' Intervocalic allophone of /r/. See Nepali phonology
Norwegian[18] bare [ˈbɑ̂ː.ɾə] 'only' May be realised as a trill [r], approximant [ɹ] or uvular [ʀ~ʁ] depending on dialect. See Norwegian phonology
Odia ରାତି/rāti [ɾäti] 'night'
Polish który [ˈkt̪u.ɾɘ̟] 'which' Can also sometimes be an approximant, a fricative, and rarely - a trill. See Polish phonology
Portuguese[19] prato [ˈpɾatu] 'dish' Dental to retroflex allophones, varying by dialect. Contrasts only intervocalically with /ʁ/, with its guttural allophones. See Portuguese phonology
Scottish Gaelic r [moːɾ] 'big' Both the lenited and non-initial broad form of r. Often transcribed simply as /r/. The initial unlenited broad form is a trill [rˠ], while the slender form is [ɾʲ] ([ð] in some dialects). See Scottish Gaelic phonology.
Spanish[20] caro About this sound[ˈkaɾo̞]  'expensive' Contrasts with /r/. See Spanish phonology
Tamil மரம் [maɾam] 'tree' See Tamil phonology
Turkish[21] ara [ˈäɾä] 'interval' Intervocalically; may not make full contact elsewhere.[21] See Turkish phonology
Uzbek[22] ёмғир/yomg‘ir [ʝɒ̜mˈʁ̟ɨɾ̪] 'rain' Denti-alveolar.[22]
West Coast Bajau[23] bara' [ba.ɾaʔ] 'to tell' Voiced dental flap in intervocalic position.

Alveolar nasal tap and flap[edit]

Alveolar nasal tap/flap
IPA Number124 424


Features of the alveolar nasal tap or flap:


Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
English[24] Estuary twenty About this sound[ˈtw̥ɛ̃ɾ̃i]  'twenty' Allophone of unstressed intervocalic /nt/ for some speakers, especially in rapid or casual speech. See English phonology,
North American English regional phonology and Flapping
North American[25]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Valentin-Marquez (2015)
  2. ^ Watson (2002:16)
  3. ^ Dum-Tragut (2009:19)
  4. ^ Carbonell & Llisterri (1992:53)
  5. ^ a b Grønnum (2005:157)
  6. ^ a b Basbøll (2005:126)
  7. ^ Wells (1982:324–325)
  8. ^ Cox & Palethorpe (2007:343)
  9. ^ Trudgill & Hannah (2002:24)
  10. ^ "Glossary". Retrieved 2021-05-22.
  11. ^ Ogden (2009:114)
  12. ^ a b c Ogden (2009:92)
  13. ^ Wise (1957:?)
  14. ^ Arvaniti (2007:15–18)
  15. ^ Labrune (2012), p. 92.
  16. ^ Akamatsu (1997), p. 106.
  17. ^ Khatiwada, Rajesh (December 2009). "Nepali". Journal of the International Phonetic Association. 39 (3): 373–380. doi:10.1017/S0025100309990181. ISSN 1475-3502.
  18. ^ Kristoffersen, Gjert (2015). "En innføring i norsk fonologi" [An introduction to Norwegian phonology] (PDF) (in Norwegian) (4 ed.). University of Bergen: 21. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2018-10-24. Retrieved 2020-07-09. I østlandsk er denne lyden normalt en såkalt tapp Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  19. ^ Cruz-Ferreira (1995:91)
  20. ^ Martínez-Celdrán, Fernández-Planas & Carrera-Sabaté (2003:255)
  21. ^ a b Yavuz & Balcı (2011:25)
  22. ^ a b Sjoberg (1963:13)
  23. ^ Miller, Mark T. (2007). A Grammar of West Coast Bajau (Ph.D. thesis). University of Texas at Arlington. p. 34. hdl:10106/577.
  24. ^ Kwan-Young Oh. "Reanalysis of Flapping on Level Approach". Retrieved 2013-11-24.
  25. ^ Tomasz P. Szynalski. "Flap t FAQ". Retrieved 2013-11-24.


External links[edit]