Uvular trill

The 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.

Uvular trill
IPA Number123
Entity (decimal)ʀ
Unicode (hex)U+0280
Audio sample
source · help

Voiced uvular trill


Features of the 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 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.


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 claimed that there are many signs that the uvular R existed in some German dialects long before the 17th century.

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 Arabic 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 [ʀo:t]  '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 [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 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'
Luxembourgish Standard[22] Rou [ʀəʊ̯] 'silence' Pre-vocalic allophone of /ʀ/; less often realized as a fricative [ʁ].[23] See Luxembourgish phonology
Older speakers[23] Mauer [ˈmɑ̝ʊ̯əʀ] 'wall' Realized as [ə ~ ɐ] by younger speakers.[23] 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[24] rarear [ʀəɾiˈaɾ] 'to get scarcer' Alternates with other uvular forms and the older alveolar trill. See Portuguese phonology
Fluminense[25] 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[25] 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[26][27]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[28] räv [ʀɛːv] 'fox' See Swedish phonology
Yiddish Standard[29] בריק [bʀɪk] 'bridge' More commonly a flap [ʀ̆]; can be alveolar [ɾ ~ r] instead.[29] See Yiddish phonology

Voiced uvular fricative trill

Voiced uvular fricative trill
IPA Number123 429


Features of the voiced uvular fricative trill:

  • Its manner of articulation is fricative trill, which means it is a non-sibilant fricative and a trill pronounced simultaneously.
  • 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.


It is phonemic in the Maastrichtian and Weert dialects of Limburgish, but it does not contrast with a plain uvular trill in either.[30][31]

Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Danish[32] rød [ʀ̝œð̠] 'red' Word-initial allophone of /ʁ/, used only sometimes when emphasising a word.[32] Otherwise a continuant, described variously as uvular [ʁ] and pharyngeal [ʕ]. See Danish phonology
Dutch Belgian[33] sturen [ˈstyːʀ̝ə(n)] 'to send' Only when following a vowel, otherwise it is voiceless.[34] Realization of /r/ varies considerably among dialects. See Dutch phonology
Limburgish Maastrichtian[30] drei [dʀ̝ɛi̯] 'three' Either uvular [ʀ̝] or pre-uvular [ʀ̝˖].[30][31]
Weert dialect[31] drej [dʀ̝æj]
Portuguese Lisbon[32] ritmo [ˈʀ̝it̪mu] 'rhythm' Common realization of word-initial /ʀ/.[32] See Portuguese phonology
West Flemish Bruges dialect[35] onder [ˈuŋəʀ̝] 'under' A trill with little friction. An alveolar [r] is used in the neighbouring rural area.[35]

See also


  1. 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. Bisiada (2009).
  5. 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. Verstraten & van de Velde (2001), p. 52.
  13. Collins & Mees (2003), p. 42.
  14. Collins & Mees (2003), p. 209.
  15. Verstraten & van de Velde (2001), p. 54.
  16. Verstraten & van de Velde (2001), pp. 52 and 54.
  17. Finn (2004), p. 976.
  18. Ladefoged & Maddieson (1996), p. 236.
  19. Grevisse & Goosse (2008), pp. 22–36.
  20. Hall (1993), p. 89.
  21. Canepari (1999), pp. 98–101.
  22. Gilles & Trouvain (2013), pp. 67–68.
  23. Gilles & Trouvain (2013), p. 68.
  24. Mateus & d'Andrade (2000), p. 11.
  25. Acoustic analysis of vibrants in Brazilian Portuguese (in Portuguese)
  26. Rood & Taylor (1996).
  27. Lakota Language Consortium (2004). Lakota letters and sounds.
  28. Ladefoged & Maddieson (1996:225–226)
  29. Kleine (2003:263)
  30. Gussenhoven & Aarts (1999), p. 156.
  31. Heijmans & Gussenhoven (1998), p. 108.
  32. Grønnum (2005), p. 157.
  33. Tops (2009), pp. 25, 30-32, 63, 80-88, 97-100, 105, 118, 124-127, 134-135, 137-138 and 140-141.
  34. Tops (2009), p. 83.
  35. Hinskens & Taeldeman (2013), p. 167.


  • 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 (PDF) (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, Brussels: Etudes & Travaux, pp. 91–112, ISSN 0777-3692
  • Grevisse, Maurice; Goosse, André (2008), Le Bon Usage (14th ed.), De Boeck et Larcier
  • Grønnum, Nina (2005), Fonetik og fonologi, Almen og Dansk (3rd ed.), Copenhagen: Akademisk Forlag, ISBN 87-500-3865-6
  • Gussenhoven, Carlos; Aarts, Flor (1999), "The dialect of Maastricht" (PDF), Journal of the International Phonetic Association, University of Nijmegen, Centre for Language Studies, 29: 155–166, doi:10.1017/S0025100300006526
  • Hall, Tracy Alan (1993), "The phonology of German /ʀ/", Phonology, 10 (1): 83–105, doi:10.1017/S0952675700001743, JSTOR 4615428
  • Heijmans, Linda; Gussenhoven, Carlos (1998), "The Dutch dialect of Weert" (PDF), Journal of the International Phonetic Association, 28: 107–112, doi:10.1017/S0025100300006307
  • Hinskens, Frans; Taeldeman, Johan, eds. (2013), Dutch, Walter de Gruyter, ISBN 978-3-11-018005-3
  • 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
  • Tops, Evie (2009), Variatie en verandering van de /r/ in Vlaanderen, Brussels: VUBPress, ISBN 9789054874713
  • 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, 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
This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.