Retroflex approximant

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Retroflex approximant
IPA number 152
Entity (decimal) ɻ
Unicode (hex) U+027B
Kirshenbaum r.
Braille ⠲ (braille pattern dots-256) ⠼ (braille pattern dots-3456)

The retroflex approximant is a type of consonant used in some languages. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is ɻ, and the equivalent X-SAMPA symbol is r\`. The IPA symbol is a turned lowercase letter r with a rightward hook protruding from the lower right of the letter.


Features of the retroflex approximant:


The retroflex approximant occurs in American English, Hiberno-English, West Country English, Mandarin Chinese, Pashto, a few Brazilian Portuguese dialects and some languages of India such as Tamil and Malayalam, as well as several Australian Aboriginal and Indigenous South American languages.

Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Arrernte [example needed]
Chinese Mandarin ròu About this sound [ɻoʊ̯˥˩]  'meat' Can be a fricative [ʐ] for some speakers. See Standard Chinese phonology
Dutch Some Netherlandic speakers[1] eerst [ɪːɻst] 'first' Tongue bunched and root retracted. Only occurs in the syllable coda. See Dutch phonology
English Some American dialects red [ɻʷɛd] 'red' See English phonology
Some Hiberno-English dialects
Some West Country English
Enindhilyagwa angwura [aŋwuɻa] 'fire'
Faroese[2] hoyrdi [hɔiɻʈɛ] 'heard' Allophone of /r/.[2] Sometimes voiceless [ɻ̊].[2] See Faroese phonology
Greek Cretan Greek (Sfakia and Mylopotamos variations) region[3] γάλα la [ˈɣaɻa] 'milk' Intervocalic allophone of /l/ before /a o u/. Recessive. See Modern Greek phonology
Kannada Some dialects ಕೊೞೆ [kɒɻe] 'to rot'
Malayalam വഴി [ʋɐɻi] 'way'
Mapudungun[4] 'rayen [ɻɜˈjën] 'flower' Possible realization of /ʐ/; may be [ʐ] or [ɭ] instead.[4]
Pashto سوړ [soɻ] 'cold' Allophone of retroflex lateral flap /ɭ̆/. See Pashto phonology
Portuguese Many Centro-Sul registers cartas [ˈkaɻtə̥̆s] 'letters' Allophone of rhotic consonants (and sometimes /l/) in the syllable coda. Mainly[5] found in rural São Paulo, Paraná, south of Minas Gerais and surrounding areas, with the more common and prestigious realization in metropolitan areas being [ɹ] and/or rhotic vowel instead. As with [ɽ], it appeared as a mutation of [ɾ].[6][7][8] See Portuguese phonology.
Caipira temporal [tẽɪ̯̃pʊˈɾaɻ] 'rainstorm'
Conservative piracicabano grato [ˈgɻatʊ̥] 'thankful' (m.)
Tamil[9] தமிழ் About this sound [t̪əˈmɨɻ]  Tamiḻ "Tamil" See Tamil phonology
Western Desert Pitjantjatjara dialect Uluu [ʊlʊɻʊ] 'Uluru'
Yaghan rho [ˈwaɻo] 'cave'

See also[edit]


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ a b c Árnason (2011:115)
  3. ^ Trudgill (1989:18–19)
  4. ^ a b Sadowsky et al. (2013), p. 90.
  5. ^ Nas trilhas do -r retroflexo Silvia Figueiredo Brandão. December 2007. Retrieved June 19, 2015.
  6. ^ (Portuguese) Acoustic-phonetic characteristics of the Brazilian Portuguese's retroflex /r/: data from respondents in Pato Branco, Paraná. Irineu da Silva Ferraz. Pages 19–21
  7. ^ (Portuguese) Syllable coda /r/ in the "capital" of the paulista hinterland: sociolinguistic analisis. Cândida Mara Britto LEITE. Page 111 (page 2 in the attached PDF)
  8. ^ (Portuguese) Callou, Dinah. Leite, Yonne. "Iniciação à Fonética e à Fonologia". Jorge Zahar Editora 2001, p. 24
  9. ^ Keane (2004:111)


  • Árnason, Kristján (2011), The Phonology of Icelandic and Faroese, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0-19-922931-4 
  • Keane, Elinor (2004), "Tamil", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 34 (1): 111–116, doi:10.1017/S0025100304001549 
  • Sadowsky, Scott; Painequeo, Héctor; Salamanca, Gastón; Avelino, Heriberto (2013), "Mapudungun", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 43 (1): 87–96, doi:10.1017/S0025100312000369 
  • Trudgill, Peter (1989), "The Sociophonetics of /l/ in the Greek of Sphakiá", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 15 (2): 18–22, doi:10.1017/S0025100300002942