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Alveolar approximant
IPA number 151
Entity (decimal) ɹ
Unicode (hex) U+0279
Kirshenbaum r
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[create] Documentation

The 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 approximants is ⟨ɹ⟩, a lowercase letter r rotated 180 degrees, or in broad transcriptionr⟩; the equivalent X-SAMPA symbol is ⟨r\⟩.

For ease of typesetting, the vast majority of English phonemic transcriptions use the symbol ⟨r⟩ instead of ⟨ɹ⟩, even though the former symbol technically represents the alveolar trill.


Features of the alveolar approximant:



  • 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
Armenian Eastern սուրճ [suɹtʃʰ] 'coffee'
Chukchi ңирэк [ŋiɹek] 'two'
Dutch Goois door [doəɹ] 'through' Most dialects use an alveolar tap or trill. See Dutch phonology
Leiden dialect rat [ɹat] 'rat'
English American dialects[1] red [ɹ̠ˤʷɛd] 'red' Often retracted and labialized. In non-rhotic dialects, it occurs only before a vowel. May also be a labialized retroflex approximant; corresponds to an alveolar trill or alveolar tap in a few other dialects. See English phonology
Received Pronunciation
Faroese róður [ɹɔuwʊɹ] 'rudder'
German Westerwald[2] and Siegerland[3] dialects Rebe [ɹeːbə] 'vine shoot' Most dialects use a voiced uvular fricative or uvular trill. See German phonology
Portuguese Many Central-Southern Brazilian dialects verde [ˈveɹdʒɪ] 'green' Syllable-final allophone of rhotic consonant and also /l/. See Portuguese phonology
Some countryside Central-Southern Brazilian dialects temporal [tẽjpoˈɾaɹ] 'rainstorm'
Spanish Some dialects[4] doscientos [do̞ɹˈθje̞nto̞s] 'two hundred' Allophone of /s/ in the syllable coda. See Spanish phonology
Vietnamese rơ [ɹɤ] 'to clean' See Vietnamese phonology
Zapotec Tilquiapan[5] r [ɹd̪ɨ] 'pass' Allophone of /ɾ/ before any consonant.

See also



  • Boyce, S.; Espy-Wilson, C. (1997), "Coarticulatory stability in American English /r/", Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 101 (6): 3741–3753, doi:10.1121/1.418333, PMID 9193061 
  • Browman, L.; Goldstein (1995), "Gestural syllable position in American English", in Bell-Berti, F., Producing Speech: Contemporary issues for K Harris, New York: AIP, pp. 9–33 
  • Delattre, P.; Freeman, D.C. (1968), "A dialect study of American R's by x-ray motion picture", Linguistics 44: 29–68 
  • Fougeron, C (1999), "Prosodically conditioned articulatory variation: A Review", UCLA Working Papers in Phonetics, 97, pp. 1–73 
  • Hallé, Pierre A.; Best, Catherine T.; Levitt, Andrea; Andrea (1999), "Phonetic vs. phonological influences on French listeners' perception of American English approximants", Journal of Phonetics 27 (3): 281–306, doi:10.1006/jpho.1999.0097 
  • Kohler, Klaus (1995), Einführung in die Phonetik des Deutschen, Berlin: Erich Schmidt Verlag 
  • Merrill, Elizabeth (2008), "Tilquiapan Zapotec", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 38 (1): 107–114 
  • Recasens, Daniel (2004), "The effect of syllable position on consonant reduction (evidence fromCatalan consonant clusters)", Journal of Phonetics 32 (3): 435–453, doi:10.1016/j.wocn.2004.02.001 
  • Zawadski, P.A.; Kuehn, D.P. (1980), "A cineradiographic study of static and dynamic aspects of American English /r/", Phonetica 37 (4): 253–266, doi:10.1159/000259995, PMID 7443796 


als:Alveolarer Approximant br:Kensonenn kevig dre dostaat ca:Aproximant alveolar sonora cs:Alveolární aproximanta de:Stimmhafter alveolarer Approximant fr:Consonne spirante alvéolaire voisée ko:치경 접근음 ms:Malaran tak geser gusi nl:Alveolaire approximant pt:Aproximante alveolar sv:Alveolar approximant uk:Ясенний апроксимант zh:齒齦近音 -->

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