Voiced uvular fricative

The voiced uvular fricative is a type of consonantal sound, used in some spoken languages. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is ʁ, an inverted small uppercase letter ʀ, or in broad transcription r if rhotic. This consonant is one of several collectively called guttural R when found in European languages.

Voiced uvular fricative
IPA Number143
Entity (decimal)ʁ
Unicode (hex)U+0281
Audio sample
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Voiced uvular approximant

The voiced uvular approximant is also found interchangeably with the fricative, and may also be transcribed as ʁ. Because the IPA symbol stands for the uvular fricative, the approximant may be specified by adding the downtack: ʁ̞, though some writings[1] use a superscript ʶ, which is not an official IPA practice.

For a voiced pre-uvular fricative (also called post-velar), see voiced velar fricative.


Features of the voiced uvular fricative:

  • Its manner of articulation is fricative, which means it is produced by constricting air flow through a narrow channel at the place of articulation, causing turbulence. In many languages it is closer to an approximant, however, and no language distinguishes the two at the uvular articulation.
  • 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.


In Western Europe, a uvular trill pronunciation of rhotic consonants spread from northern French to several dialects and registers of Basque,[2] Catalan, Danish, Dutch, German, Judaeo-Spanish, Norwegian, Occitan, Portuguese, Swedish, and Yiddish. However, not all of them remain a uvular trill today.

In Brazilian Portuguese, it is usually a velar fricative ([x], [ɣ]), voiceless uvular fricative [χ], or glottal transition ([h], [ɦ]), except in southern Brazil and Rio de Janeiro, where alveolar, velar and uvular trills as well as the voiced uvular fricative predominate. Because such uvular rhotics often do not contrast with alveolar ones, IPA transcriptions may often use r to represent them for ease of typesetting. For more information, see guttural R.

Ladefoged & Maddieson (1996) note, "There is... a complication in the case of uvular fricatives in that the shape of the vocal tract may be such that the uvula vibrates."[3] See voiced uvular raised non-sonorant trill for more information.

Abkhazцыҕ cëğ[tsəʁ]'marten'See Abkhaz phonology
Adygheтыгъэ ğa[təʁa] 'sun'
AfrikaansParts of the former Cape Province[4]rooi[ʁoːi̯]'red'May be a trill [ʀ] instead.[4] See Afrikaans phonology
AleutAtkan dialectchamĝul[tʃɑmʁul]'to wash'
ArabicModern Standard[5]غرفة ġurfa[ˈʁʊrfɐ]'room'May be velar, post-velar or uvular, depending on dialect.[6] See Arabic phonology
ArchiгъӀабос ġabos[ʁˤabos]'croak'
ArmenianEastern[7]ղեկ łek[ʁɛk] 'rudder'
AvarтIагъур thaġur[tʼaˈʁur]'cap'
Bashkir туғыҙ/tuğïð [tuˈʁɤð]  'nine'
BasqueNorthern dialectsurre[uʁe]'gold'
Chilcotinrelkɨsh [ʁəlkɪʃ]'he walks'
DanishStandard[8]rød[ʁ̞œ̠ð̠]'red'Most often an approximant when initial.[9] In other positions, it can be either a fricative (also described as voiceless [χ]) or an approximant[8] Also described as pharyngeal [ʕ̞].[10] See Danish phonology
Dutch[11][12][13][14]Belgian Limburg[15][16]rad[ʁɑt]'wheel'Either a fricative or an approximant.[13][15][14][12][17] Realization of /r/ varies considerably among dialects. See Dutch phonology
Central Netherlands[18]
East Flanders[16]
Northern Netherlands[18]
Southern Netherlands[18]
EnglishDyfed[19]red[ʁɛd]'red'Not all speakers.[19] Alveolar in other Welsh accents.
North-east Leinster[20]Corresponds to [ɹ ~ ɾ ~ ɻ] in other dialects of English in Ireland.
Northumbrian[21][22]Described both as a fricative[21] and an approximant.[22] More rarely it's a trill [ʀ].[21] Mostly found in rural areas of Northumberland and northern County Durham, declining. See English phonology and Northumbrian Burr.
Sierra Leonean[21]More rarely a trill [ʀ].[21]
Frenchrester[ʁɛste]'to stay'See French phonology
GermanStandard[23]Rost[ʁɔst]'rust'Either a fricative or, more often, an approximant. In free variation with a uvular trill. See Standard German phonology
Lower Rhine[23]
Swabian[24][ʁ̞oʃt]An approximant.[24] It's the realization of /ʁ/ in onsets,[24] otherwise it's an epiglottal approximant.[24]
HebrewBiblicalעוֹרֵב[ʕo̞'reβ]'raven'See Biblical Hebrew phonology.
Modernעוֹרֵב[o'ʁ̞ev]'raven'See Modern Hebrew phonology.[25]
InuktitutEast Inuktitut dialectmarruuk[mɑʁʁuuk]'two'
ItalianSome speakers[26]raro[ˈʁäːʁo]'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 uvular trill [ʀ] or a labiodental approximant [ʋ].[26] See Italian phonology.
Kabardianбгъэ bğa[bʁa] 'eagle'
[bːəʁ]'to dive'
Kazakhсаған, saǵan[sɑˈʁɑn]'you' (dat. sing.)
Korean, gohwan[koʁʷɐn]'testicle'
Kyrgyzжамгыр camğır[dʒɑmˈʁɯr]'rain'
LuxembourgishSome speakers[27]Rou[ʁəʊ̯]'silence'Pre-vocalic allophone of /ʀ/; more often realized as a trill [ʀ].[27] See Luxembourgish phonology
Standard[27]Kugel[ˈkʰuːʁəl]'ball'Appears only in a few words.[27] See Luxembourgish phonology
MalayPerak dialectPerak[peʁɑk̚]'Perak'See Malay phonology
NorwegianSouthern dialectsrar[ʁ̞ɑːʁ̞]'strange'Either an approximant or a fricative. See Norwegian phonology
Southwestern dialects
Ossetic Iron æгъгъæд æğğæd [ˈəʁːəd] 'enough'
PortugueseEuropean[28]carro[ˈkaʁu]'car'See Portuguese phonology
Setubalense[29]ruralizar[ʁuʁəɫiˈzaʁ]'to ruralize'Often trilled. Due to a merger, corresponds to both /ɾ/ and /ʁ/ in other dialects.
Fluminense[29][30]ardência[ɐʁˈdẽsjə]'burning feeling'Due to 19th century Portuguese influence, Rio de Janeiro's dialect merged coda /ɾ/ into /ʁ/.[31] Often trilled. In free variation with [ɣ], [ʕ] and [ɦ] before voiced sounds, [x], [χ], [ħ] and [h] before voiceless consonants
SwedishSouthern dialectsrör[ʁɶʁ]'pipe(s)'See Swedish phonology
Tatarяңгыр, yañğır[jɒŋˈʁɯr]'rain'
Tsezагъи aɣi[ˈʔaʁi]'bird'
Ubykh[ʁa]'his'Ubykh has ten different uvular fricatives. See Ubykh phonology
Uyghur ئۇيغۇر [ʊjʁʊr] 'uyghur'
Yakutтоҕус toğus[toʁus]'nine'

See also


  1. Such as Krech et al. (2009).
  2. Grammar of Basque, page 30, José Ignacio Hualde, Jon Ortiz De Urbina, Walter de Gruyter, 2003
  3. Ladefoged & Maddieson (1996:167)
  4. Donaldson (1993), p. 15.
  5. Watson (2002), pp. 17.
  6. Watson (2002), pp. 17, 19-20, 35-36 and 38.
  7. Dum-Tragut (2009:13)
  8. Basbøll (2005:62)
  9. Basbøll (2005:66)
  10. Ladefoged & Maddieson (1996:323)
  11. Booij (1999:8)
  12. Collins & Mees (2003:39, 54, 179, 196, 199–201, 291)
  13. Goeman & van de Velde (2001:91–92, 94–95, 97, 99, 101–104, 107–108)
  14. Verstraten & van de Velde (2001:51–55)
  15. Verhoeven (2005:245)
  16. Verstraten & van de Velde (2001:52)
  17. Goeman & van de Velde (2001:91–92, 94–95, 97, 102)
  18. Verstraten & van de Velde (2001:54)
  19. Wells (1982:390)
  20. Hickey (2007:?)
  21. Ladefoged & Maddieson (1996:236)
  22. Ogden (2009:93)
  23. Hall (1993:89)
  24. Markus Hiller. "Pharyngeals and "lax" vowel quality" (PDF). Mannheim: Institut für Deutsche Sprache. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-05-28. Retrieved 2015-02-24.
  25. The pronunciation of the Modern Hebrew consonant ר resh has been described as a unique uvular approximant ʁ, specifically [ʁ̞], which also exists in Yiddish, see Ghil'ad Zuckermann (2003), Language Contact and Lexical Enrichment in Israeli Hebrew, Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 261-262.
  26. Canepari (1999), pp. 98–101.
  27. Gilles & Trouvain (2013), p. 68.
  28. Cruz-Ferreira (1995:92)
  29. (in Portuguese) Rhotic consonants in the speech of three municipalities of Rio de Janeiro: Petrópolis, Itaperuna and Paraty. Page 11.
  30. (in Portuguese) The process of Norm change for the good pronunciation of the Portuguese language in chant and dramatics in Brazil during 1938, 1858 and 2007 Archived 2016-02-06 at the Wayback Machine Page 36.
  31. (in Portuguese) The acoustic-articulatory path of the lateral palatal consonant's allophony. Pages 229 and 230.


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  • Booij, Geert (1999), The phonology of Dutch, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-823869-X
  • Collins, Beverley; Mees, Inger M. (2003) [First published 1981], The Phonetics of English and Dutch (PDF) (5th ed.), Leiden: Brill Publishers, ISBN 9004103406
  • Cruz-Ferreira, Madalena (1995), "European Portuguese", Journal of the International Phonetic Association, 25 (2): 90–94, doi:10.1017/S0025100300005223
  • Donaldson, Bruce C. (1993), "1. Pronunciation", A Grammar of Afrikaans, Mouton de Gruyter, pp. 1–35, ISBN 9783110134261
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  • Gilles, Peter; Trouvain, Jürgen (2013), "Luxembourgish", 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
  • Hall, Tracy Alan (1993), "The phonology of German /ʀ/", Phonology, 10 (1): 83–105, doi:10.1017/S0952675700001743
  • Hickey, Raymond (2007). Irish English: History and Present-day Forms. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-85299-4.
  • Kachru, Yamuna (2006), Hindi, John Benjamins Publishing, ISBN 90-272-3812-X
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  • Sjoberg, Andrée F. (1963), Uzbek Structural Grammar, Uralic and Altaic Series, 18, Bloomington: Indiana University
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