Voiced uvular trill

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Voiced uvular trill
IPA Number123
Entity (decimal)ʀ
Unicode (hex)U+0280
Braille⠔ (braille pattern dots-35)⠗ (braille pattern dots-1235)
Audio sample

The voiced 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 voiced uvular trill:

  • Its manner of articulation is trill, which means it is produced by directing air over an articulator so that it vibrates. Unlike in tongue-tip trills, it is the uvula, not the tongue, that vibrates.[1]
  • Its place of articulation is uvular, which means it is articulated with the back of the tongue (the dorsum) at the uvula.
  • Its phonation is voiced, which means the vocal cords vibrate during the articulation.
  • It is an oral consonant, which means air is allowed to escape through the mouth only.
  • It is a central consonant, which means it is produced by directing the airstream along the center of the tongue, rather than to the sides.
  • The airstream mechanism is pulmonic, which means it is articulated by pushing air solely with the lungs and diaphragm, as in most sounds.


Distribution of guttural r (such as [ʁ ʀ χ]) in Europe in the mid-20th century.[2]
  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 17th century and spread to the standard varieties of German, Danish, Portuguese and some of those 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.[3] In most cases, varieties have shifted the sound to a voiced uvular fricative [ʁ] or a voiced uvular approximant [ʁ̞].

The other main theory is that the uvular R originated within Germanic languages by the weakening of the alveolar R, which was replaced by an imitation of the alveolar R (vocalisation).[4] Against the "French origin" theory, it is said that there are many signs that the uvular R existed in some German dialects long before the 17th century.[4]

Apart from modern Europe, uvular R also exists in some Semitic languages, including North Mesopotamian Arabic and probably Tiberian Hebrew.

Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Afrikaans Parts of the former Cape Province[5] rooi [ʀoːi̯] 'red' May be a fricative [ʁ] instead.[5] See Afrikaans phonology
Arabic North Mesopotamian قمر [ˈqʌmʌʀ] 'moon' Corresponds to [r, ɾ] in most other varieties. See Arabic phonology
Catalan Some northern dialects[6] rrer [koˈʀe] 'to run' See Catalan phonology
Dutch[7][8][9][10] Belgian Limburg[11][12] rood About this sound[ʀoːt]  'red' More commonly a tap.[13] Uvular pronunciations appear to be gaining ground in the Randstad.[14] Realization of /r/ varies considerably among dialects. See Dutch phonology
Central Netherlands[15]
Southern Netherlands[15]
Flemish Brabant[12] More commonly a tap.[13] It is one of the least common realizations of /r/ in these areas.[16] See Dutch phonology
Northern Netherlands[15]
West Flanders[12]
English Cape Flats[17] red [ʀɛd] 'red' Possible realization of /r/; may be [ɹ ~ ɹ̝ ~ ɾ ~ r] instead.[17] See South African English phonology
Northumbrian dialect[18] More often a fricative.[18] Dialectal "Northumbrian Burr", mostly found in eastern Northumberland, declining. See English phonology
Sierra Leonean[18] More often a fricative.[18]
French[19] rendez-vous About this sound[ʀɑ̃devu]  'rendezvous', 'appointment' Dialectal. More commonly an approximant or a fricative [ʁ]. See French phonology
German Standard[20] rot About this sound[ʀoːt]  'red' In free variation with a voiced uvular fricative and approximant. See Standard German phonology
Hebrew ירוק [jaˈʀok] 'green' May also be a fricative or approximant. See Modern Hebrew phonology
Italian[1] Some speakers[21] raro [ˈʀäːʀo] 'rare' Rendition alternative to the standard Italian alveolar trill [r], due to individual orthoepic defects and/or regional variations that make the alternative sound more prevalent, notably in Alto Adige (bordering with German-speaking Austria), Val d'Aosta (bordering with France) and in parts of the Parma province, more markedly around Fidenza. Other alternative sounds may be a voiced uvular fricative [ʁ] or a labiodental approximant [ʋ].[21] See Italian phonology.
Judaeo-Spanish mujer [muˈʒɛʀ] 'woman', 'wife'
Low Saxon Zwols[22][23] priezen/prysen [pʀi:zn̩] 'prices' Only in the city and its immediate surroundings, not in the area surrounding Zwolle.
Luxembourgish[24] Rou [ʀəʊ̯] 'silence' Prevocalic allophone of /ʀ/.[25] See Luxembourgish phonology
Occitan Eastern garric [ɡaʀi] 'oak' Contrasts with alveolar trill ([ɡari] 'cured')
Provençal parts [paʀ] 'parts' See Occitan phonology
Southern Auvergnat garçon [ɡaʀˈsu] 'son'
Southeastern Limousin filh [fʲiʀ]
Portuguese European[26] rarear [ʀəɾiˈaɾ] 'to get scarcer' Alternates with other uvular forms and the older alveolar trill. See Portuguese phonology
Fluminense[27] mercado [me̞ʀˈkaðu] 'market', 'fair' Tendency to be replaced by fricative pronunciations. In coda position, it is generally in free variation with [x], [χ], [ʁ], [ħ] and [h] before non-voicing environments
Sulista[27] repolho [ʀe̞ˈpoʎ̟ʊ] 'cabbage' Alternates with the alveolar trill and [h] depending on the region. Never used in coda.
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/
Selkup Northern dialects ӄаӄри [ˈqaʀlɪ̈] 'sledge' Allophone of /q/ before liquids
Sioux Lakota[28][29] ǧí [ʀí] 'it's brown' Allophone of /ʁ/ before /i/
Sotho Regional variant moriri [moʀiʀi] 'hair' Imported from French missionaries. See Sesotho phonology
Swedish Southern[30] räv [ʀɛːv] 'fox' See Swedish phonology
Yiddish Standard[31] בריק [bʀɪk] 'bridge' More commonly a flap [ʀ̆]; can be alveolar [ɾ ~ r] instead.[31] See Yiddish phonology

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Ladefoged & Maddieson (1996), p. 225.
  2. ^ Map based on Trudgill (1974:220)
  3. ^ Trudgill (1974:221), citing Moulton (1952), Ewert (1963), and Martinet (1969)
  4. ^ a b Bisiada (2009).
  5. ^ a b Donaldson (1993), p. 15.
  6. ^ Wheeler (2005), pp. 24.
  7. ^ Booij (1999), p. 8.
  8. ^ Collins & Mees (2003), pp. 42, 54, 77, 165, 199–200.
  9. ^ Goeman & van de Velde (2001), pp. 91–92, 94–97, 99–104.
  10. ^ Verstraten & van de Velde (2001), pp. 45–46, 51, 53–55, 58.
  11. ^ Verhoeven (2005), pp. 243 and 245.
  12. ^ a b c Verstraten & van de Velde (2001), p. 52.
  13. ^ a b Collins & Mees (2003), p. 42.
  14. ^ Collins & Mees (2003), p. 209.
  15. ^ a b c d Verstraten & van de Velde (2001), p. 54.
  16. ^ Verstraten & van de Velde (2001), pp. 52 and 54.
  17. ^ a b Finn (2004), p. 976.
  18. ^ a b c d Ladefoged & Maddieson (1996), p. 236.
  19. ^ Grevisse & Goosse (2008), pp. 22–36.
  20. ^ Hall (1993), p. 89.
  21. ^ a b Canepari (1999), pp. 98–101.
  22. ^ The guttural r is used in some other cities in the Low Saxon area as well.
  23. ^ Zuid-Drente en Noord-Overijssel. Zwolle. Reeks Nederlandse Dialectatlassen deel 14 (1982).
  24. ^ Gilles & Trouvain (2013), pp. 67–68.
  25. ^ Gilles & Trouvain (2013), p. 68.
  26. ^ Mateus & d'Andrade (2000), p. 11.
  27. ^ a b Acoustic analysis of vibrants in Brazilian Portuguese (in Portuguese)
  28. ^ Rood & Taylor (1996).
  29. ^ Lakota Language Consortium (2004). Lakota letters and sounds.
  30. ^ Ladefoged & Maddieson (1996:225–226)
  31. ^ a b Kleine (2003:263)


  • Bisiada, Mario (2009), "[R] in Germanic Dialects — Tradition or Innovation?", Vernacular, 1: 84–99
  • Booij, Geert (1999), The phonology of Dutch, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-823869-X
  • Canepari, Luciano (1999) [1992], Il MªPi – Manuale di pronuncia italiana [Handbook of Italian Pronunciation] (in Italian) (2 ed.), Bologna: Zanichelli, ISBN 88-08-24624-8
  • Collins, Beverley; Mees, Inger M. (2003) [First published 1981], The Phonetics of English and Dutch (5th ed.), Leiden: Brill Publishers, ISBN 9004103406
  • Donaldson, Bruce C. (1993), "1. Pronunciation", A Grammar of Afrikaans, Mouton de Gruyter, pp. 1–35, ISBN 9783110134261
  • Ewert, A. (1963), The French Language, London: Faber
  • Finn, Peter (2004), "Cape Flats English: phonology", in Schneider, Edgar W.; Burridge, Kate; Kortmann, Bernd; Mesthrie, Rajend; Upton, Clive (eds.), A handbook of varieties of English, 1: Phonology, Mouton de Gruyter, pp. 964–984, ISBN 3-11-017532-0
  • Gilles, Peter; Trouvain, Jürgen (2013), "Luxembourgish" (PDF), Journal of the International Phonetic Association, 43 (1): 67–74, doi:10.1017/S0025100312000278
  • Goeman, Ton; van de Velde, Hans (2001). "Co-occurrence constraints on /r/ and /ɣ/ in Dutch dialects". In van de Velde, Hans; van Hout, Roeland (eds.). 'r-atics. Rapport d'Activités de l'Institut des Langues Vivantes et de Phonétique. Brussels: Etudes & Travaux. pp. 91–112. ISSN 0777-3692.
  • Grevisse, Maurice; Goosse, André (2008), Le Bon Usage (14th ed.), De Boeck et Larcier
  • Hall, Tracy Alan (1993), "The phonology of German /ʀ/", Phonology, 10 (1): 83–105, doi:10.1017/S0952675700001743, JSTOR 4615428
  • Kleine, Ane (2003), "Standard Yiddish", Journal of the International Phonetic Association, 33 (2): 261–265, doi:10.1017/S0025100303001385
  • Ladefoged, Peter; Maddieson, Ian (1996). The Sounds of the World's Languages. Oxford: Blackwell. ISBN 978-0-631-19815-4.
  • Martinet, A. (1969), Le Français sans fard, Paris: Presses Universitaires
  • Mateus, Maria Helena; d'Andrade, Ernesto (2000), The Phonology of Portuguese, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-823581-X
  • Moulton, W.G. (1952), "Jacob Böhme's uvular r", Journal of English and Germanic Philology, 51: 83–89
  • Rood, David S.; Taylor, Allan R. (1996), "Sketch of Lakhota, a Siouan Language, Part I", Handbook of North American Indians, 17, Smithsonian Institution, pp. 440–482, archived from the original on 2012-07-12, retrieved 2014-11-14
  • Trudgill, Peter (1974), "Linguistic change and diffusion: Description and explanation in sociolinguistic dialect", Language in Society, 3 (2): 215–246, doi:10.1017/S0047404500004358
  • Verhoeven, Jo (2005), "Belgian Standard Dutch", Journal of the International Phonetic Association, 35 (2): 243–247, doi:10.1017/S0025100305002173
  • Verstraten, Bart; van de Velde, Hans (2001). "Socio-geographical variation of /r/ in standard Dutch". In van de Velde, Hans; van Hout, Roeland (eds.). 'r-atics. Rapport d'Activités de l'Institut des Langues Vivantes et de Phonétique. Brussels: Etudes & Travaux. pp. 45–61. ISSN 0777-3692.
  • Wheeler, Max W. (2005), The Phonology Of Catalan, Oxford: Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0-19-925814-7

External links[edit]