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R, or r, is the eighteenth
letter Letter, letters, or literature may refer to: Characters typeface * Letter (alphabet), a character representing one or more of the sounds used in speech; any of the symbols of an alphabet. * Letterform, the graphic form of a letter of the alphabe ...
of the
Latin alphabet The Latin alphabet or Roman alphabet is the collection of letters originally used by the Ancient Rome, ancient Romans to write the Latin language. Largely unaltered with the exception of extensions (such as diacritics), it used to write Eng ...
, used in the modern English alphabet, the alphabets of other western European languages and others worldwide. Its name in English is ''ar'' (pronounced ), plural ''ars'', or in Ireland ''or'' . The letter is the eighth most common letter in English and the fourth-most common consonant (after , , and ). The letter is used to form the ending "-re", which is used in certain words such as ''centre'' in some varieties of English spelling, such as
British English British English (BrE, en-GB, or BE) is, according to Oxford Dictionaries, " English as used in Great Britain, as distinct from that used elsewhere". More narrowly, it can refer specifically to the English language in England, or, more broa ...
.
Canadian English Canadian English (CanE, CE, en-CA) encompasses the Variety (linguistics), varieties of English language, English native to Canada. According to the 2016 Canadian Census, 2016 census, English was the first language of 19.4 million Canadians o ...
also uses the "-re" ending, unlike
American English American English, sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of variety (linguistics), varieties of the English language native to the United States. English is the Languages of the United States, most widely spoken lan ...
, where the ending is usually replaced by "-er" (''center''). This does not affect pronunciation.


Name

The name of the letter in Latin was (), following the pattern of other letters representing
continuant In phonetics, a continuant is a speech sound manner of articulation, produced without a complete closure in the oral cavity, namely fricatives, approximants, vowels, and Trill consonant, trills. While vowels are included in continuants, the term ...
s, such as F, L, M, N and S. This name is preserved in French and many other languages. In
Middle English Middle English (abbreviated to ME) is a form of the English language that was spoken after the Norman conquest of England, Norman conquest of 1066, until the late 15th century. The English language underwent distinct variations and developments ...
, the name of the letter changed from to , following a pattern exhibited in many other words such as ''farm'' (compare French ''ferme'') and ''star'' (compare German ''Stern''). In
Hiberno-English Hiberno-English (from Latin language, Latin ''Hibernia'': "Ireland"), and in ga, Béarla na hÉireann. or Irish English, also formerly Anglo-Irish, is the set of English dialects native to the island of Ireland (including both the Repub ...
the letter is called or , somewhat similar to ''oar'', ''ore'', ''orr''. The letter R is sometimes referred to as the (literally 'canine letter', often rendered in English as the dog's letter). This Latin term referred to the Latin R that was trilled to sound like a growling dog, a spoken style referred to as ('dog voice'). A good example of a trilled R is in the Spanish word for dog, ''perro''. In
William Shakespeare William Shakespeare ( 26 April 1564 – 23 April 1616) was an English playwright, poet and actor. He is widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's nation ...
's ''
Romeo and Juliet ''Romeo and Juliet'' is a Shakespearean tragedy, tragedy written by William Shakespeare early in his career about the romance between two Italian youths from feuding families. It was among Shakespeare's most popular plays during his lifetim ...
'', such a reference is made by Juliet's nurse in Act 2, scene 4, when she calls the letter R "the dog's name". The reference is also found in
Ben Jonson Benjamin "Ben" Jonson (c. 11 June 1572 – c. 16 August 1637) was an English playwright and poet. Jonson's artistry exerted a lasting influence upon English poetry and stage comedy. He popularised the comedy of humours; he is best known for t ...
's ''English Grammar''.


History


Antiquity

The original Semitic letter may have been inspired by an
Egyptian hieroglyph Egyptian hieroglyphs (, ) were the formal writing system used in Ancient Egypt, used for writing the Egyptian language. Hieroglyphs combined logographic, syllabary, syllabic and alphabetic elements, with some 1,000 distinct characters.There were ...
for ''tp'', "head". It was used for by Semites because in their language, the word for "head" was '' rêš'' (also the name of the letter). It developed into Greek ' Ρ' (''rhô'') and Latin R. The descending diagonal stroke develops as a graphic variant in some Western Greek alphabets (writing ''rho'' as ), but it was not adopted in most
Old Italic alphabet The Old Italic scripts are a family of similar ancient writing systems used in the Italian Peninsula between about 700 and 100 BC, for various languages spoken in that time and place. The most notable member is the Etruscan alphabet, whi ...
s; most Old Italic alphabets show variants of their ''rho'' between a "P" and a "D" shape, but without the Western Greek descending stroke. Indeed, the oldest known forms of the Latin alphabet itself of the 7th to 6th centuries BC, in the Duenos and the Forum inscription, still write ''r'' using the "P" shape of the letter. The Lapis Satricanus inscription shows the form of the Latin alphabet around 500 BC. Here, the rounded, closing Π shape of the ''p'' and the Ρ shape of the ''r'' have become difficult to distinguish. The descending stroke of the Latin letter R has fully developed by the 3rd century BC, as seen in the Tomb of the Scipios sarcophagus inscriptions of that era. From around 50 AD, the letter ''P'' would be written with its loop fully closed, assuming the shape formerly taken by ''R''.


Cursive

The minuscule (lowercase) form (''r'') developed through several variations on the capital form. Along with Latin minuscule writing in general, it developed ultimately from
Roman cursive Roman cursive (or Latin cursive) is a form of handwriting (or a script (styles of handwriting), script) used in ancient Rome and to some extent into the Middle Ages. It is customarily divided into old (or ancient) cursive and new cursive. Old Ro ...
via the
uncial Uncial is a majusculeGeoffrey Glaister, Glaister, Geoffrey Ashall. (1996) ''Encyclopedia of the Book''. 2nd edn. New Castle, DE, and London: Oak Knoll Press & The British Library, p. 494. script (styles of handwriting), script (written entirely ...
script of Late Antiquity into the
Carolingian minuscule Carolingian minuscule or Caroline minuscule is a hand (handwriting), script which developed as a calligraphic standard in the Middle Ages, medieval European period so that the Latin alphabet of Jerome's Vulgate Bible could be easily recognized b ...
of the 9th century. In handwriting, it was common not to close the bottom of the loop but continue into the leg, saving an extra pen stroke. The loop-leg stroke shortened into the simple arc used in the Carolingian minuscule and until today. A calligraphic minuscule ''r'', known as
r rotunda The r rotunda ⟨ ꝛ ⟩, "rounded r", is a historical calligraphic variant of the minuscule (lowercase) letter Latin '' r'' used in full script-like typefaces, especially blackletter Blackletter (sometimes black letter), also known as ...
(ꝛ), was used in the sequence ''or'', bending the shape of the ''r'' to accommodate the bulge of the ''o'' (as in ''oꝛ'' as opposed to ''or''). Later, the same variant was also used where ''r'' followed other lower case letters with a rounded loop towards the right (such as ''b, h, p'') and to write the geminate ''rr'' (as ''ꝛꝛ''). Use of ''r rotunda'' was mostly tied to
blackletter Blackletter (sometimes black letter), also known as Gothic script, Gothic minuscule, or Textura, was a script used throughout Western Europe from approximately 1150 until the 17th century. It continued to be commonly used for the Danish, Norweg ...
typefaces, and the glyph fell out of use along with blackletter fonts in English language contexts mostly by the 18th century.
Insular script Insular script was a Middle Ages, medieval script (styles of handwriting), script system originating from Ireland that spread to Anglo-Saxon England and continental Europe under the influence of Hiberno-Scottish mission, Irish Christianity. Iris ...
used a minuscule which retained two downward strokes, but which did not close the loop ("Insular ''r''", ꞃ); this variant survives in the
Gaelic type Gaelic type (sometimes called Irish character, Irish type, or Gaelic script) is a family of Insular script typefaces devised for printing Classical Gaelic. It was widely used from the 16th until the mid-18th century (Scotland) or the mid-20th ...
popular in Ireland until the mid-20th century (but now mostly limited to decorative purposes).


Pronunciation and use


Non-English languages

represents a
rhotic consonant In phonetics, rhotic consonants, or "R-like" sounds, are liquid consonants that are traditionally represented orthographically by symbols derived from the Greek letter rho, including , in the Latin script The Latin script, also known ...
in many languages, as shown in the table below. Other languages may use the letter in their alphabets (or Latin transliterations schemes) to represent rhotic consonants different from the alveolar trill. In
Haitian Creole Haitian Creole (; ht, kreyòl ayisyen, links=no, ; french: créole haïtien, links=no, ), commonly referred to as simply ''Creole'', or ''Kreyòl'' in the Creole language, is a French-based creole languages, French-based creole language spoke ...
, it represents a sound so weak that it is often written interchangeably with , e.g. 'Kweyol' for 'Kreyol'. Brazilian Portuguese has a great number of allophones of such as , , , , , and , the latter three ones can be used only in certain contexts ( and as ; in the syllable coda, as an allophone of according to the European Portuguese norm and according to the Brazilian Portuguese norm). Usually at least two of them are present in a single dialect, such as
Rio de Janeiro Rio de Janeiro ( , , ; literally 'River of January'), or simply Rio, is the capital of the state of the same name, Brazil's third-most populous state, and the second-most populous city in Brazil, after São Paulo. Listed by the GaWC as a b ...
's , , and, for a few speakers, .


Other systems

The
International Phonetic Alphabet The International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) is an alphabet An alphabet is a standardized set of basic written graphemes (called letter (alphabet), letters) that represent the phonemes of certain spoken languages. Not all writing syste ...
uses several variations of the letter to represent the different rhotic consonants; represents the
alveolar trill The voiced alveolar trill is a type of consonantal sound used in some spoken languages. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents dental consonant, dental, alveolar consonant, alveolar, and postalveolar consonant, postalv ...
.


Related characters


Descendants and related characters in the Latin alphabet

*R with
diacritic A diacritic (also diacritical mark, diacritical point, diacritical sign, or accent) is a glyph added to a letter (alphabet), letter or to a basic glyph. The term derives from the Ancient Greek (, "distinguishing"), from (, "to distinguish"). T ...
s: Ŕ ŕ Ɍ ɍ Ř ř Ŗ ŗ Ṙ ṙ Ȑ ȑ Ȓ ȓ Ṛ ṛ Ṝ ṝ Ṟ ṟ Ꞧ ꞧ Ɽ ɽ R̃ r̃ *
International Phonetic Alphabet The International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) is an alphabet An alphabet is a standardized set of basic written graphemes (called letter (alphabet), letters) that represent the phonemes of certain spoken languages. Not all writing syste ...
-specific symbols related to R: ʶ ˞ ʴ * IPA superscript letters: 𐞦 𐞧 𐞨 𐞩 𐞪 *
Obsolete and nonstandard symbols in the International Phonetic Alphabet #REDIRECT Obsolete and nonstandard symbols in the International Phonetic Alphabet {{R from other capitalisation ...
: ɼ ɿ *
Uralic Phonetic Alphabet The Uralic Phonetic Alphabet (UPA) or Finno-Ugric transcription system is a phonetic transcription or notational system used predominantly for the transcription (linguistics), transcription and linguistic reconstruction, reconstruction of Uralic ...
-specific symbols related to R: ** ** ** ** *
Teuthonista Teuthonista is a phonetic transcription system used predominantly for the transcription of High German languages, (High) German dialects. It is very similar to other Central European transcription systems from the early 20th century. The base cha ...
phonetic transcription-specific symbols related to R: ** ** *''Anthropos'' phonetic transcription: ** ** ** *Otto Bremer's phonetic transcription: ** ** ** *𝼨 : R with mid-height left hook was used by the
British and Foreign Bible Society The British and Foreign Bible Society, often known in England and Wales as simply the Bible Society, is a non-denominational Christian Bible society with Charitable organization, charity status whose purpose is to make the Bible available throu ...
in the early 20th century for
romanization Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of human language. It is called a scientific study because it entails a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise analysis of all aspects of langu ...
of the
Malayalam Malayalam (; , ) is a Dravidian languages, Dravidian language spoken in the Indian state of Kerala and the union territories of Lakshadweep and Puducherry (union territory), Puducherry (Mahé district) by the Malayali people. It is one of 2 ...
language. *ⱹ : Turned r with tail is used in the
Swedish Dialect Alphabet The Swedish Dialect Alphabet ( sv, Landsmålsalfabetet) is a phonetic Phonetics is a branch of linguistics that studies how humans produce and perceive sounds, or in the case of sign languages, the equivalent aspects of sign. Linguists who s ...
*Other variations of R used for phonetic transcription: 𝼕 𝼖


Calligraphic variants in the Latin alphabet

*Ꝛ ꝛ :
R rotunda The r rotunda ⟨ ꝛ ⟩, "rounded r", is a historical calligraphic variant of the minuscule (lowercase) letter Latin '' r'' used in full script-like typefaces, especially blackletter Blackletter (sometimes black letter), also known as ...
*Ꞃ ꞃ : "Insular" R (
Gaelic type Gaelic type (sometimes called Irish character, Irish type, or Gaelic script) is a family of Insular script typefaces devised for printing Classical Gaelic. It was widely used from the 16th until the mid-18th century (Scotland) or the mid-20th ...
) *ᫍ : Combining insular r was used in the
Ormulum The ''Ormulum'' or ''Orrmulum'' is a twelfth-century work of biblical exegesis, written by an Augustinian canon named Ormin, Orm (or Ormin) and consisting of just under 19,000 lines of early Middle English verse. Because of the unique phonemic ...


Ancestors and siblings in other alphabets

*𐤓 : Semitic letter
Resh Resh is the twentieth Letter (alphabet), letter of the Semitic abjads, including Phoenician alphabet, Phoenician Rēsh , Hebrew alphabet, Hebrew Rēsh , Aramaic alphabet, Aramaic Rēsh , Syriac alphabet, Syriac Rēsh ܪ, and Arabic script, Arabic ...
, from which the following letters derive **Ρ ρ :
Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece, a country in Southern Europe: *Greeks, an ethnic group. *Greek language, a branch of the Indo-European language family. **Proto-Greek language, the assumed last common ancestor ...
letter Rho, from which the following letters derive ***𐌓 : Old Italic letter R, the ancestor of modern Latin R ****ᚱ :
Runic Runes are the letter (alphabet), letters in a set of related alphabets known as runic alphabets native to the Germanic peoples. Runes were used to write various Germanic languages (with some exceptions) before they adopted the Latin alphabet, a ...
letter Raido ***Р р :
Cyrillic The Cyrillic script ( ), Slavonic script or the Slavic script, is a writing system used for various languages across Eurasia. It is the designated national script in various Slavic languages, Slavic, Turkic languages, Turkic, Mongolic languages, ...
letter Er ***𐍂 : Gothic letter Reda


Abbreviations, signs and symbols

*℟ : symbol for " response" in liturgy *℞ :
Medical prescription A prescription, often abbreviated or Rx, is a formal communication from a physician or other registered health-care professional to a pharmacist, authorizing them to wikt:dispense, dispense a specific prescription drug for a specific patien ...
Rx *® :
Registered trademark symbol The registered trademark symbol, , is a typographic symbol that provides notice that the preceding word or symbol is a trademark or service mark that has been registered with a national trademark office. A trademark is a symbol, word, or word ...
*₹ :
Indian rupee sign The Indian rupee sign (₹) is the currency symbol for the Indian rupee (ISO 4217#Active codes, ISO 4217: INR), the official currency of India. Designed by D. Udaya Kumar, it was presented to the public by the Government of India on 15 July 201 ...


Encoding

: 1


See also

*
Guttural R Guttural R is the phenomenon whereby a rhotic consonant (an "R-like" sound) is produced in the back of the vocal tract (usually with the uvula) rather than in the front portion thereof and thus as a guttural consonant. Speakers of language ...


References


External links

* * * {{Latin alphabet, R} ISO basic Latin letters