rhotic consonant


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, rhotic consonants, or "R-like" sounds, are
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rho Rho (uppercase Ρ, lowercase ρ or ; el, ῥῶ) is the 17th letter of the Greek alphabet The Greek alphabet has been used to write the Greek language since the late ninth or early eighth century BC. It is derived from the earlier Phoenician ...
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Latin script Latin script, also known as Roman script, is an alphabetic An alphabet is a standardized set of basic written symbols A symbol is a mark, sign, or word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest seque ...

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and , in the Cyrillic script. They are transcribed in the International Phonetic Alphabet by upper- or lower-case variants of Roman , : , , , , , , , and . This class of sounds is difficult to characterise phonetically; from a phonetic standpoint, there is no single articulatory correlate (manner of articulation, manner or place of articulation, place) common to rhotic consonants. Rhotics have instead been found to carry out similar phonological functions or to have certain similar phonological features across different languages. Although some have been found to share certain acoustic peculiarities, such as a lowered third formant, further study has revealed that this does not hold true across different languages. For example, the acoustic quality of lowered third formants pertains almost exclusively to American varieties of English language, English. Being "R-like" is an elusive and ambiguous concept phonetically and the same sounds that function as rhotics in some systems may pattern with fricatives, semivowels or even stops in others—for example, the alveolar tap is a rhotic consonant in many languages; but in North American English it is an allophone of the stop phoneme /t/, as in ''water''. It is likely that rhotics, then, are not a phonetically natural class, but a phonological one instead. Some languages have rhotic and non-rhotic varieties, which differ in the incidence of rhotic consonants. In Rhoticity in English, non-rhotic accents of English, /r/ is not pronounced unless it is followed directly by a vowel.


The most typical rhotic sounds found in the world's languages are the following: * trill consonant, Trill (popularly known as rolled r): The airstream is interrupted several times as one of the organs of speech (usually the tip of the tongue or the uvula) vibrates, closing and opening the air passage. If a trill is made with the tip of the tongue against the upper gum, it is called an apical (tongue-tip) alveolar trill; the International Phonetic Alphabet, IPA symbol for this sound is . Most non-alveolar trills, such as the bilabial trill, bilabial one, however, are not considered rhotic. **Many languages, such as Bulgarian language, Bulgarian, Swedish language, Swedish, Norwegian language, Norwegian, Frisian languages, Frisian, Italian language, Italian, Spanish language, Spanish, Russian language, Russian, Polish language, Polish, Ukrainian language, Ukrainian, Dutch language, Dutch and most Occitan language, Occitan variants, use trilled rhotics. In the English language, English-speaking world, the stereotyped Scottish English, Scottish rolled is well known. The "stage pronunciation" of German language, German specifies the alveolar trill for clarity. Rare kinds of trills include Czech language, Czech (Dental, alveolar and postalveolar trills#Voiced alveolar fricative trill, fricative trill) and Welsh phonology, Welsh (Voiceless alveolar trill, voiceless trill). **The uvular trill is another kind of rhotic trill; see below for more. *flap consonant, Tap ''or'' flap (these terms describe very similar articulations): Similar to a trill, but involving just one brief interruption of airflow. In many languages taps are used as reduced variants of trills, especially in fast speech. However, in Spanish, for example, taps and trills contrast, as in ''pero'' ("but") versus ''perro'' ("dog"). Also flaps are used as basic rhotics in Japanese language, Japanese and Korean language, Korean languages. In Australian English and most American English, American dialects of English, flaps do not function as rhotics but are realizations of intervocalic apical stops ( and , as in ''rider'' and ''butter''). The IPA symbol for this sound is . * alveolar approximant, Alveolar or retroflex approximant (as in most accents of English—with minute differences): The front part of the tongue approaches the upper gum, or the tongue-tip is curled back towards the roof of the mouth ("retroflexion"). No or little friction can be heard, and there is no momentary closure of the vocal tract. The IPA symbol for the alveolar approximant is and the symbol for the retroflex approximant is . There is a distinction between an ''unrounded retroflex approximant'' and a ''rounded'' variety that probably could have been found in Old English language, Anglo-Saxon and even to this day in some dialects of English, where the orthographic key is ''r'' for the unrounded version and usually ''wr'' for the rounded version (these dialects will make a differentiation between ''right'' and ''write''). Also used as a rhotic in some dialects of Armenian, Dutch, German, Brazilian Portuguese (depending on phonotactics). * uvular consonant, Uvular (popularly called guttural R, guttural r): The back of the tongue approaches the soft palate or the uvula. The standard Rs in Portuguese language, European Portuguese, French language, French, German language, German, Danish language, Danish, and Modern Hebrew are variants of this rhotic. If fricative, the sound is often impressionistically described as harsh or grating. This includes the voiced uvular fricative, voiceless uvular fricative, and uvular trill. In northern England, there were accents that once employed a uvular R, which was called a "burr". * developmental non-rhotic Rs: Many non-rhotic British speakers have a R-labialization, labialization to of their Rs, which is between idiosyncratic and dialectal (southern and southwestern England), and since it includes some Received Pronunciation, RP speakers, somewhat prestigious. Apart from English, in all Brazilian Portuguese dialects the phoneme, or , may be actually realized as other, traditionally non-rhotic, fricative consonant, fricatives (and most often is so), unless it occurs single between vowels, being so realized as a dental, alveolar, postalveolar or retroflex flap. In the syllable coda, it varies individually as a fricative, a flap or an approximant, though fricatives are ubiquitous in the North Region, Brazil, Northern and Northeast Region, Brazil, Northeastern regions and all states of Southeast Region, Brazil, Southeastern Brazil but São Paulo (state), São Paulo and surrounding areas. The total inventory of allophones is rather long, or up to , the latter eight being particularly common, while none of them except archaic , that contrasts with the flap in all positions, may occur alone in a given dialect. Few dialects, such as South Region, Brazil, ''sulista'' and Rio de Janeiro (state), ''fluminense'', give preference to voiced allophones; elsewhere, they are common only as coda, before voiced consonants. Additionally, some other languages and variants, such as Haitian Creole and Timorese Portuguese, use velar and glottal fricatives instead of traditional rhotics, too. In Vietnamese phonology, Vietnamese, depending on dialect, the rhotic can occur as , or . In Standard Chinese phonology, modern Mandarin Chinese, the phoneme , which is represented as in Hanyu Pinyin, resembles the rhotics in other languages in realization, thus it can be considered a rhotic consonant.


In broad transcription rhotics are usually symbolised as unless there are two or more types of rhotic in the same language; for example, most Australian Aboriginal languages, which contrast approximant and trill , use the symbols ''r'' and ''rr'' respectively. The IPA has a full set of different symbols which can be used whenever more phonetic precision is required: an ''r'' rotated 180° for the alveolar approximant, a small capital ''R'' for the uvular trill, and a flipped small capital ''R'' for the voiced uvular fricative or approximant. The fact that the sounds conventionally classified as "rhotics" vary greatly in both place and manner in terms of articulation, and also in their acoustic characteristics, has led several linguists to investigate what, if anything, they have in common that justifies grouping them together. One suggestion that has been made is that each member of the class of rhotics shares certain properties with other members of the class, but not necessarily the same properties with all; in this case, rhotics have a "family resemblance" with each other rather than a strict set of shared properties. Another suggestion is that rhotics are defined by their behaviour on the sonority hierarchy, namely, that a rhotic is any sound that patterns as being more sonorous than a lateral consonant but less sonorous than a vowel. The potential for variation within the class of rhotics makes them a popular area for research in sociolinguistics.

Variable rhoticity


English has rhotic and non-rhotic accents. Rhotic speakers pronounce a historical in all instances, while non-rhotic speakers only pronounce at the beginning of a syllable.

Other Germanic languages

The rhotic consonant is dropped or vocalized under similar conditions in other Germanic languages, notably German language, German, Danish language, Danish and Dutch language, Dutch from the eastern Netherlands (because of Low German influence) and southern Sweden (possibly because of its Danish history). In most varieties of German (with the notable exception of Swiss Standard German), in the syllable coda is frequently realized as a vowel or a semivowel, or . In the traditional standard pronunciation, this happens only in the unstressed ending ''-er'' and after long vowels: for example ''besser'' , ''sehr'' . In common speech, the vocalization is usual after short vowels as well, and additional contractions may occur: for example ''Dorn'' ~ , ''hart'' ~ . Similarly, Danish after a vowel is, unless followed by a stressed vowel, either pronounced (''mor'' "mother" , ''næring'' "nourishment" ) or merged with the preceding vowel while usually influencing its vowel quality ( and or are realised as long vowels and , and , and are all pronounced ) (''løber'' "runner" , ''Søren Kierkegaard'' (personal name) ).


In Asturian language, Asturian, word final is always lost in infinitives if they are followed by an enclitic pronoun, and this is reflected in the writing; e.g. The infinitive form ''dar'' plus the 3rd plural dative pronoun "-yos" ''da-yos'' (give to them) or the accusative form "los" ''dalos'' (give them). This will happen even in leonese language, southern dialects where the infinitive form will be "dare" , and both the and the vowel will drop (da-yos, not *dáre-yos). However, most of the speakers also drop the rhotics in the infinitive before a lateral consonant of a different word, and this doesn't show in the writing. e.g. ''dar los dos'' (give the two [things]). This doesn't occur in the middle of words. e.g. the name ''Carlos'' .


In some Catalan language, Catalan dialects, word final is lost in coda position not only in suffixes on nouns and adjectives denoting the masculine singular and plural (written as ''-r'', ''-rs'') but also in the "-''ar'', -''er'', -''ir''" suffixes of infinitives; e.g. ''forner'' "(male) baker", ''forners'' , ''fer'' "to do", ''lluir'' "to shine, to look good". However, rhotics are "recovered" when followed by the feminine suffix ''-a'' , and when infinitives have single or multiple Clitic, enclitic pronouns (notice the two rhotics are neutralized in the coda, with a tap consonant, tap occurring between vowels, and a trill consonant, trill elsewhere); e.g. ''fornera'' "(female) baker", ''fer-lo'' "to do it (masc.)", ''fer-ho'' "to do it/that/so", ''lluir-se'' "to excel, to show off".


Final R is generally not pronounced in words ending in -er. The R in ''parce que'' (because) is not pronounced in informal speech in French.

Indonesian and Malaysian Malay

In Indonesian language, Indonesian, which is a form of Malay language, Malay, the final is pronounced, it has varying forms of Malay spoken on the Malay Peninsula. In Indonesia, it is usually a tap version, but for some Malaysian, it is a retroflex r.


Historical final has been lost from all Khmer language, Khmer dialects but Northern.


In some dialects of Brazilian Portuguese, is unpronounced or aspirated. This occurs most frequently with verbs in the infinitive, which is always indicated by a word-final . In some states, however, it happens mostly with any when preceding a consonant. The "Carioca" accent (from the city of Rio de Janeiro) is notable for this.


Among the Spanish dialects and varieties, Spanish dialects, Andalusian Spanish, Caribbean Spanish (descended from and still very similar to Andalusian and Canarian Spanish), Castúo (the Spanish dialect of Extremadura), Northern Colombian Spanish (in cities like Cartagena, Colombia, Cartagena, Montería, San Andrés, San Andrés y Providencia, San Andrés and Santa Marta, but not Barranquilla, which is mostly rhotic) and the Languages of Argentina#Spanish, Argentine dialect spoken in the Tucumán Province, Tucumán province may have an unpronounced word-final , especially in infinitives, which mirrors the situation in some dialects of Brazilian Portuguese. However, in Antillean Caribbean forms, word-final in infinitives and non-infinitives is often in free variation with word-final and may relax to the point of being articulated as .


The native Thai rhotic is the alveolar trill. The English approximants /ɹ/ and /l/ are used interchangeably in Thai language, Thai. That is, Thai speakers generally replace an English-derived R(ร) with an L(ล) and when they hear L(ล) they may write R (ร).


In Istanbul Turkish, is always pronounced, with the exceptions in colloquial speech being the present continuous tense suffix as in ('going') or ('I was writing') and ('one') when used as an adjective/quantifier (but not other numbers containing this word, such as ('eleven')). In these cases, the preceding vowel is not lengthened. The unfavorability of dropping can be explained with minimal pairs, such as ('stole') versus (imperative 'ring'). In some parts of Turkey, e.g. Kastamonu, the syllable-final is almost never pronounced, e.g. "gidiya" instead of "gidiyor" (meaning "she/he is going"), "gide" instead of "gider" (meaning "she/he goes"). In "gide", compensatory lengthening, the preceding vowel e is lengthened and pronounced somewhat between an e and a.


Among the Turkic languages, Uyghur language, Uyghur displays more or less the same feature, as syllable-final is dropped, while compensatory lengthening, the preceding vowel is lengthened: for example ''Uyghurlar'' ‘Uyghur people, Uyghurs’. The may, however, sometimes be pronounced in unusually "careful" or "pedantic" speech; in such cases, it is often Linking and intrusive R, mistakenly inserted after long vowels even when there is no phonemic there.


Similarly in Yaqui language, Yaqui, an indigenous language of northern Mexico, intervocalic or syllable-final is often dropped with lengthening of the previous vowel: ''pariseo'' becomes , ''sewaro'' becomes .


Lacid, whose exonyms in various literature include Lashi, Lachik, Lechi, and Leqi, is a Tibeto-Burman language spoken by the Lacid people. There are various reports of their population size ranging from 30,000 to 60,000 people. The majority are in Myanmar but there are also small groups located in China and Thailand. Noftz (2017) reports finding an example of a rhotic alveolar fricative in Lacid while doing phonological research at Payap University in Thailand in 2015. He was not able to continue his research and expressed the need for further examination of the segment to verify his results. It is postulated that the segment is a remnant of the rhotic fricative in Proto-Tibeto-Burman.


The Shekaki accent of the Kurmanji dialect of Kurdish is non-rhotic, that is the postvocalic flap "r" is not pronounced but the trill "R" is. When r is omitted, a "compensatory lengthening" of the preceding vowel takes place. For example: * ''sar'' ("cold") is pronounced /saː/ * ''torr'' ("net") is pronounced /tor/ (with a trilled r) Shekaki retains morphological syllables instead of phonological syllables in non-rhotic pronunciation.Îrec Mêhrbexş, linguist

Berber languages

Syllable-final is lost in many variaties of Rif Berber. It lengthens preceding to , while and become diphthongs, similarly to languages like English or German. However, there exists a distinct phoneme from earlier , which does not undergo the same development.Kossmann, M.G.; Stroomer, H.J.: "Berber Phonology", p. 469-71, in ''Phonologies of Asia and Africa'' (1997)

See also

* Rhotic and non-rhotic accents * R-colored vowel, R-coloured vowel * Guttural R


Further reading

* {{DEFAULTSORT:Rhotic Consonant Rhotic consonants