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Dental and alveolar taps and flaps

  (Redirected from Alveolar tap)

The alveolar tap or flap is a type of consonantal sound, used in some spoken languages. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents a dental, alveolar, or postalveolar tap or flap is [ɾ].

The terms tap and flap are often used interchangeably. Peter Ladefoged proposed the distinction that a tap strikes its point of contact directly, as a very brief stop, and a flap strikes the point of contact tangentially: "Flaps are most typically made by retracting the tongue tip behind the alveolar ridge and moving it forward so that it strikes the ridge in passing."[1] That distinction between the alveolar tap and flap can be written in the IPA with tap [ɾ] and flap [ɽ], the 'retroflex' symbol being used for the one that starts with the tongue tip curled back behind the alveolar ridge. The distinction is noticeable in the speech of some American English speakers in distinguishing the words "potty" (tap [ɾ]) and "party" (flap [ɽ]).

For linguists who make the distinction, the coronal tap is transcribed as [ɾ], and the flap is transcribed as [ᴅ], which is not recognized by the IPA. Otherwise, alveolars and dentals are typically called taps and other articulations flaps. No language contrasts a tap and a flap at the same place of articulation.

The sound is often analyzed and thus interpreted by native English-speakers as an 'R-sound' in many foreign languages. In languages for which the segment is present but not phonemic, it is often an allophone of either an alveolar stop ([t], [d], or both) or a rhotic consonant (like the alveolar trill or the alveolar approximant).

If the alveolar tap is the only rhotic consonant in the language, it may be transcribed /r/ although that symbol technically represents the trill.

The voiced alveolar tapped fricative reported from some languages is actually a very brief voiced alveolar non-sibilant fricative.

Voiced alveolar tap and flapEdit

Alveolar tap or flap
IPA Number124
Entity (decimal)ɾ
Unicode (hex)U+027E
Audio sample


Features of the alveolar tap or flap:


Dental or denti-alveolarEdit

Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Russian[2] рьяный  [ˈɾ̪ʲjän̪ɨ̞j]  'zealous' Apical; palatalized. More common than a dental trill.[2] It contrasts with a post-alveolar trill. See Russian phonology
Uzbek[3] ёмғир/yomg‘ir [ʝɒ̜mˈʁ̟ɨɾ̪] 'rain' Denti-alveolar.[3]


Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Afrikaans Standard[4] rooi [ɾoːi̯] 'red' May be a trill [r] instead.[4] See Afrikaans phonology
Arabic Egyptian[5] رجل [ɾeɡl] 'leg' Contrasts with emphatic form. See Egyptian Arabic phonology
Lebanese إجر [ʔəʒəɾ] 'wages'
Assyrian Neo-Aramaic [ɑɾɑː] 'ground' Used predominantly. /ɹ/, however, is used in some dialects
Armenian Eastern[6] րոպե  [ɾopɛ]  'minute' Contrasts with /r/ in all positions.
Basque begiratu [beˈɣiɾaˌtu] 'look' Contrasts with /r/. See Basque phonology
Bulgarian река / reka [ɾɛˈka] 'river'
Catalan[7] mira [ˈmiɾə] 'look' Contrasts with /r/. See Catalan phonology
Danish[8][9] Vil du med? [ʋe̝ ɾu ˈme] 'Are you coming too?' Possible realization of intervocalic /d/ when it occurs between two unstressed vowels.[8][9] See Danish phonology
English Cockney[10] better [ˈbe̞ɾə] 'better' Intervocalic allophone of /t/. In free variation with [ʔ ~ ~ ]. See Flapping
Australian[11] [ˈbeɾə] Intervocalic allophone of /t/, and also /d/ for some Australians. Used more often in Australia than in New Zealand. See Australian English phonology and Flapping
New Zealand[12] [ˈbeɾɘ]
Dublin  [ˈbɛɾɚ]  Intervocalic allophone of /t/ and /d/, present in many dialects. In Local Dublin it can be [ɹ] instead, unlike New and Mainstream. See English phonology and Flapping
North America[13]
West Country
Irish three [θɾiː] 'three' Conservative accents. Corresponds to [ɹ ~ ɻ ~ ʁ] in other accents.
Scottish[14] Most speakers. Others use [ɹ ~ r].
Older Received Pronunciation[15] Allophone of /ɹ/
South African[14] Broad speakers. Can be [ɹ ~ r] instead
Esperanto esperanto [espeˈɾanto] 'person who hopes' Allophone of /r/. See Esperanto phonology
Greek[16] μηρός / mirós [miˈɾ̠o̞s] 'thigh' Somewhat retracted. Most common realization of /r/. See Modern Greek phonology
Hindustani अर्थ/ارتھ [əɾt̪ʰ] 'meaning' See Hindustani phonology
Hungarian piros [ˈpiɾoʃ] 'red' See Hungarian phonology
Italian caro [ˈkaɾo] 'dear' Allophone of /r/ in unstressed intervocalic syllables; may also occur in other unstressed syllables.[17] See Italian phonology
Japanese /こころ kokoro  [ko̞ko̞ɾo̞]  'heart' Apical.[18] See Japanese phonology
Korean 여름 / yeoreum [jʌɾɯm] 'summer' Allophone of /l/ between vowels or between a vowel and an /h/
Limburgish Hasselt dialect[19] weuren [ˈβ̞øːɾən] '(they) were' Possible intervocalic allophone of /r/; may be uvular [ʀ̆] instead.[19]
Māori whare [ɸaɾɛ] 'house'
Persian روز [ɾuz] 'day'
Portuguese[20] prato [ˈpɾatu] 'dish' Dental to retroflex allophones, varying by dialect. Contrasts only intervocalically with /ʁ/, with its guttural allophones. See Portuguese phonology
Scottish Gaelic r [moːɾ] 'big' Both the lenited and non-initial broad form of r. Often transcribed simply as /r/. The initial unlenited broad form is /rˠ/ (also transcribed as /ᵲ/ or /R/) while the slender form is /ɾʲ/ ([ð] in some dialects). See Scottish Gaelic phonology.
Slovene[21] amarant [amaˈɾaːn̪t̪] 'amaranth' Also described as trill [r],[22] and variable between trill [r] and tap [ɾ].[23] See Slovene phonology
Spanish[24] caro  [ˈkaɾo̞]  'expensive' Contrasts with /r/. See Spanish phonology
Tagalog barya [bɐɾˈja] 'coin' Once allophones with /d/. May also be pronounced as a trill /r/[25] or an approximant /ɹ/. See Tagalog phonology
Turkish[26] ara [ˈäɾä] 'interval' Intervocalic realization of /ɾ/.[26] See Turkish phonology
Yiddish Standard[27] בריק [bɾɪk] 'bridge' Less commonly a trill [r]; can be uvular [ʀ̆ ~ ʀ] instead.[27] See Yiddish phonology
Zapotec Tilquiapan[28] ran [ɾaŋ] 'to see'


Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
German Standard[29] Rübe [ˈɾÿːbə] 'beet' Varies between apical dental and apical alveolar; may be a trill instead.[29] See Standard German phonology

Alveolar nasal tap and flapEdit

Alveolar nasal tap/flap
IPA Number124 424


Features of the alveolar nasal tap or flap:


Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
English[30] Estuary twenty  [ˈtw̥ɛ̃ɾ̃i]  'twenty' Allophone of unstressed intervocalic /nt/ for some speakers, especially in rapid or casual speech. See English phonology,
North American English regional phonology and Flapping
North American[31]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Valentin-Marquez (2015)
  2. ^ a b Skalozub (1963:?); cited in Ladefoged & Maddieson (1996:221)
  3. ^ a b Sjoberg (1963:13)
  4. ^ a b Lass (1987), p. 117.
  5. ^ Watson (2002:16)
  6. ^ Dum-Tragut (2009:19)
  7. ^ Carbonell & Llisterri (1992:53)
  8. ^ a b Grønnum (2005:157)
  9. ^ a b Basbøll (2005:126)
  10. ^ Wells (1982:324–325)
  11. ^ Cox & Palethorpe (2007:343)
  12. ^ Trudgill & Hannah (2002:24)
  13. ^ Ogden (2009:114)
  14. ^ a b c Ogden (2009:92)
  15. ^ Wise (1957:?)
  16. ^ Arvaniti (2007:15–18)
  17. ^ Romano, Antonio. "A preliminary contribution to the study of phonetic variation of /r/ in Italian and Italo-Romance." Rhotics. New data and perspectives (Proc. of’r-atics-3, Libera Università di Bolzano (2011): 209-226, pp. 213-214.
  18. ^ Labrune (2012), p. 92.
  19. ^ a b Peters (2006), p. 118.
  20. ^ Cruz-Ferreira (1995:91)
  21. ^ Šuštaršič, Komar & Petek (1999:135)
  22. ^ Pretnar & Tokarz (1980:21)
  23. ^ Greenberg (2006:17 and 20)
  24. ^ Martínez-Celdrán, Fernández-Planas & Carrera-Sabaté (2003:255)
  25. ^ Schachter and Reid (2008)
  26. ^ a b Yavuz & Balcı (2011:25)
  27. ^ a b Kleine (2003:263)
  28. ^ Merrill (2008:108)
  29. ^ a b Mangold (2005:53)
  30. ^ Kwan-Young Oh. "Reanalysis of Flapping on Level Approach". Retrieved 2013-11-24.
  31. ^ Tomasz P. Szynalski. "Flap t FAQ". Retrieved 2013-11-24.


External linksEdit