Voiced retroflex approximant
IPA Number152
Audio sample
Entity (decimal)ɻ
Unicode (hex)U+027B
⠲ (braille pattern dots-256)
⠼ (braille pattern dots-3456)
Labialised voiced retroflex approximant
Audio sample

The voiced 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.

The velar bunched approximant found in some varieties of Dutch and American English sounds similar to the retroflex approximant but it has a very different articulation.


A schematic mid-sagittal section of an articulation of a voiced retroflex approximant [ɻ]
A schematic mid-sagittal section of an articulation of a voiced retroflex approximant [ɻ]

Features of the voiced retroflex approximant:


Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Chinese Mandarin ròu [ɻ̺oʊ̯˥˩] 'meat' Apical.[1] Can be transcribed as fricative [ʐ]. See Standard Chinese phonology
Derung Tvrung [tə˧˩ɻuŋ˥˧] 'Derung'
English Some American dialects red [ɻ(ʷ)ɛd] 'red' Labialized (pronounced with lips rounded). See Pronunciation of English /r/
Some Hiberno-English dialects
Some West Country English
Enindhilyagwa angwura [aŋwuɻa] 'fire'
Faroese[2] hoyrdi [hɔiɻʈɛ] 'heard' Allophone of /ɹ/.[2] Sometimes voiceless [ɻ̊].[2] See Faroese phonology
Greek Cretan (Sfakia and Mylopotamos variations) region[3] γάλα la [ˈɣaɻa] 'milk' Intervocalic allophone of /l/ before /a o u/. Recessive. See Modern Greek phonology
Old Kannada ಕೊೞೆ [kɒɻe] 'to rot'
Malayalam ആഴം [aːɻɐm] 'Depth'
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.)
Sanskrit कृपया [ˈkɻ̍pɐjaː] 'please'
Tamil[9] தமிழ் [t̪əˈmɨɻ]  'Tamil' See Tamil phonology. May be merged with [ɭ] for many modern speakers.
Telugu తమిఴ్ [t̪əˈmɨɻ] 'Tamil' Might be rarely used to transliterate Tamil or Malayalam or to write proper nouns of Tamil or Malayalam. Usage is practically non existent and almost always merged with [ɭ], in both written and spoken forms, by modern speakers.
Western Desert Pitjantjatjara dialect Uluu [ʊlʊɻʊ] 'Uluru'
Yaghan rho [ˈwaɻo] 'cave'

See also


  1. ^ Lee, Wai-Sum (1999). An articulatory and acoustical analysis of the syllable-initial sibilants and approximant in Beijing Mandarin (PDF). Proceedings of the 14th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences. S2CID 51828449.
  2. ^ a b c Árnason (2011), p. 115.
  3. ^ Trudgill (1989), pp. 18–19.
  4. ^ a b Sadowsky et al. (2013), p. 90.
  5. ^ Brandão, Silvia Figueiredo (15 December 2007). "Nas trilhas do -R retroflexo". Signum: Estudos da Linguagem. 10 (2): 265. doi:10.5433/2237-4876.2007v10n2p265.
  6. ^ Ferraz, Irineu da Silva (2005). Características fonético-acústicas do /r/ retroflexo do portugues brasileiro : dados de informantes de Pato Branco (PR) (Thesis). hdl:1884/3955.
  7. ^ (in Portuguese) Syllable coda /r/ in the "capital" of the paulista hinterland: sociolinguistic analisis. Archived 2013-09-26 at the Wayback Machine Cândida Mara Britto LEITE. Page 111 (page 2 in the attached PDF)
  8. ^ (in Portuguese) Callou, Dinah. Leite, Yonne. "Iniciação à Fonética e à Fonologia". Jorge Zahar Editora 2001, p. 24
  9. ^ Keane (2004), p. 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