Voiceless alveolar and postalveolar approximants

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Voiceless alveolar approximant
IPA Number151 402A

The voiceless alveolar approximant is a type of consonantal sound, used in some spoken languages. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents the alveolar and postalveolar voiceless approximants is ⟨ɹ̥⟩, and the equivalent X-SAMPA symbol is r\_0.


Features of the voiceless alveolar approximant:

  • Its manner of articulation is approximant, which means it is produced by narrowing the vocal tract at the place of articulation, but not enough to produce a turbulent airstream.
  • 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 voiceless, which means it is produced without vibrations of the vocal cords. In some languages the vocal cords are actively separated, so it is always voiceless; in others the cords are lax, so that it may take on the voicing of adjacent sounds.
  • 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.



Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
English Various


cream [ˈkʰɹ̥iːm] ˈcreamˈ Laminal; allophone of /ɹ/ after aspirated consonants, as other approximants /l, w, j/ do. May be a post-alveolar fricative ɹ̠̊˔ instead. See English phonology.

Faroese[1] okkurt [ˈɔʰkʊɹ̥t] 'around' Allophone of /r/.[1] See Faroese phonology


Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Bengali[2] আবার [ˈäbäɹ̠̊] 'again' Apical; possible allophone of /ɹ/ in the syllable coda.[3] See Bengali phonology


  1. ^ a b Árnason (2011), p. 115.
  2. ^ Khan (2010), p. 224.
  3. ^ Khan (2010), pp. 223–224.


  • Árnason, Kristján (2011), The Phonology of Icelandic and Faroese, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0-19-922931-4
  • Khan, Sameer ud Dowla (2010), "Bengali (Bangladeshi Standard)" (PDF), Journal of the International Phonetic Association, 40 (2): 221–225, doi:10.1017/S0025100310000071

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