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

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:


Distribution of guttural r (such as [ʁ ʀ χ]) in Europe in the mid-20th century.[2] .mw-parser-output .legend{page-break-inside:avoid;break-inside:avoid-column}.mw-parser-output .legend-color{display:inline-block;min-width:1.25em;height:1.25em;line-height:1.25;margin:1px 0;text-align:center;border:1px solid black;background-color:transparent;color:black}.mw-parser-output .legend-text{}  not usual   only in some educated speech   usual in educated speech   general
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
Breton Kerneveg bro [bʀoː] 'country' Corresponds to [r~ʁ] in standard Breton. See Breton phonology
Catalan Some northern dialects[6] rrer [koˈʀe] 'to run' See Catalan phonology
Dutch[7][8][9][10] Belgian Limburg[11][12] rood [ʀoːt]  'red' More commonly a flap.[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 flap.[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 [ʀɑ̃devu]  'rendezvous', 'appointment' Dialectal. More commonly an approximant or a fricative [ʁ]. See French phonology
German Standard[20] rot [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 South Tyrol (bordering with German-speaking Austria), Aosta Valley (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]
Norwegian Southern dialects rar [ʁ̞ɑːʁ̞] 'strange' Either an approximant or a fricative. See Norwegian phonology
Southwestern dialects
Portuguese European[26] rarear [ʀɐɾiˈaɾ] 'to get scarcer' Alternates with other uvular forms and the older alveolar trill. See Portuguese phonology
Fluminense[27] mercado [me̞ʀˈkadu] '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 rrom [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


  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)


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