Voiced uvular fricative

The voiced uvular fricative or approximant 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⟩,[1] or in broad transcriptionɣ⟩ or (if rhotic) ⟨r⟩. This consonant is one of several collectively called guttural R when found in European languages.

Because the IPA symbol stands for both the uvular fricative and the uvular approximant, the fricative nature of this sound may be specified by adding the uptack to the letter: ⟨ʁ̝⟩. The approximant can be specified by adding the downtack: ⟨ʁ̞⟩, though some writings[2] 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.

Voiced uvular fricative
IPA number143
Entity (decimal)ʁ
Unicode (hex)U+0281
Braille⠔ (braille pattern dots-35)⠼ (braille pattern dots-3456)
Audio sample
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Voiced uvular approximant
Audio sample
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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 place of articulation is uvular, which means it is articulated with the back of the tongue (the dorsum) at the uvula.
  • 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.
  • The airstream mechanism is pulmonic, which means it is articulated by pushing air solely with the lungs and diaphragm, as in most sounds.


In Western Europe, a uvular trill pronunciation of rhotic consonants spread from northern French to several dialects and registers of Basque,[3] 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."[4] See voiced uvular raised non-sonorant trill for more information.

Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Abkhaz цыҕ cëğ [tsəʁ] 'marten' See Abkhaz phonology
Adyghe тыгъэ ğa [təʁa]  'sun'
Afrikaans Parts of the former Cape Province[5] rooi [ʁoːi̯] 'red' May be a trill [ʀ] instead.[5] See Afrikaans phonology
Aleut Atkan dialect chamĝul [tʃɑmʁul] 'to wash'
Arabic Modern Standard[6] غرفةġurfa [ˈʁʊrfɐ] 'room' May be velar, post-velar or uvular, depending on dialect.[7] See Arabic phonology
Archi гъӀабос ġabos [ʁˤabos][1] 'croak'
Armenian Eastern[8] ղեկ łek [ʁɛk]  'rudder'
Avar тIагъур thaġur [tʼaˈʁur] 'cap'
Bashkir туғыҙ/tuğïð [tuˈʁɤð]  'nine'
Basque Northern Basque dialects urre [uʁe] 'gold'
Chilcotin relkɨsh [ʁəlkɪʃ] 'he walks'
Danish Standard[9] rød [ʁ̞œ̠ð̠] 'red' Most often an approximant when initial.[10] In other positions, it can be either a fricative (also described as voiceless [χ]) or an approximant[9] Also described as pharyngeal [ʕ̞].[11] See Danish phonology
Dutch[12][13][14][15] Belgian Limburg[16][17] rad [ʁɑt] 'wheel' Either a fricative or an approximant.[14][16][15][13][18] Realization of /r/ varies considerably among dialects. See Dutch phonology
Central Netherlands[19]
East Flanders[17]
Northern Netherlands[19]
Southern Netherlands[19]
English Dyfed[20] red [ʁɛd] 'red' Not all speakers.[20] Alveolar in other Welsh accents.
North-east Leinster[21] Corresponds to [ɹ ~ ɾ ~ ɻ] in other dialects of English in Ireland.
Northumbrian[22][23] Described both as a fricative[22] and an approximant.[23] More rarely it's a trill [ʀ].[22] Mostly found in rural areas of Northumberland and northern County Durham, declining. See English phonology and Northumbrian Burr.
Sierra Leonean[22] More rarely a trill [ʀ].[22]
French rester [ʁɛste] 'to stay' See French phonology
German Standard[24] Rost [ʁɔst] 'rust' Either a fricative or, more often, an approximant. In free variation with a uvular trill. See Standard German phonology
Lower Rhine[24]
Swabian[25] [ʁ̞oʃt] An approximant.[25] It's the realization of /ʁ/ in onsets,[25] otherwise it's an epiglottal approximant.[25]
Hebrew Biblical עוֹרֵב [ʕo̞'reβ] 'raven' See Biblical Hebrew phonology.
Modern עוֹרֵב [o'ʁ̞ev] 'raven' See Modern Hebrew phonology.[26]
Inuktitut East Inuktitut dialect marruuk [mɑʁʁuuk] 'two'
Italian Some speakers[27] 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].[27] See Italian phonology.
Kabardian бгъэ bğa [bʁa]  'eagle'
Kabyle ⴱⴻ
[bːəʁ] 'to dive'
Kazakh саған, saǵan [sɑˈʁɑn] 'you' (dat. sing.)
Korean , gohwan [koʁʷɐn] 'testicle'
Kyrgyz жамгыр camğır [dʒɑmˈʁɯr] 'rain'
Lakota aǧúyapi [aʁʊjapɪ] 'bread'
Luxembourgish Some speakers[28] Rou [ʁəʊ̯] 'silence' Pre-vocalic allophone of /ʀ/; more often realized as a trill [ʀ].[28] See Luxembourgish phonology
Standard[28] Kugel [ˈkʰuːʁəl] 'ball' Appears only in a few words.[28] See Luxembourgish phonology
Malay Perak dialect Perak [peʁɑk̚] 'Perak' See Malay phonology
Norwegian Southern dialects rar [ʁ̞ɑːʁ̞] 'strange' Either an approximant or a fricative. See Norwegian phonology
Southwestern dialects
Ossetic Iron æгъгъæд æğğæd [ˈəʁːəd] 'enough'
Portuguese European[29] carro [ˈkaʁu] 'car' See Portuguese phonology
Setubalense[30] ruralizar [ʁuʁəɫiˈzaʁ] 'to ruralize' Often trilled. Due to a merger, corresponds to both /ɾ/ and /ʁ/ in other dialects.
Fluminense[30][31] ardência [ɐʁˈdẽsjə] 'burning feeling' Due to 19th century Portuguese influence, Rio de Janeiro's dialect merged coda /ɾ/ into /ʁ/.[32] Often trilled. In free variation with [ɣ], [ʕ] and [ɦ] before voiced sounds, [x], [χ], [ħ] and [h] before voiceless consonants
Sulista arroz [ɐˈʁos] 'rice'
Swedish Southern dialects rör [ʁɶʁ] 'pipe(s)' See Swedish phonology
Tatar яңгыр, yañğır [jɒŋˈʁɯr] 'rain'
Tsez агъи ’ag‘i [ˈʔaʁi] 'bird'
Ubykh [ʁa] 'his' Ubykh has ten different uvular fricatives. See Ubykh phonology
Uzbek oir [ɒˈʁɨr] 'heavy'
Yakut тоҕус toğus [toʁus] 'nine'
Zhuang roek [ʁɔ̌k] 'six'

See also


  1. ^ Based on the approximant ⟨ɹ⟩ and the general tendency to rotate letters in the IPA rather than invert them, ⟨⟩ might be expected. However, early in the history of the IPA, that letter had been used for the voiceless fricative, now written ⟨χ⟩, paralleling ⟨ᴙ ʀ⟩ for the voiceless and voiced trills.
  2. ^ Such as Krech et al. (2009).
  3. ^ Grammar of Basque, page 30, José Ignacio Hualde, Jon Ortiz De Urbina, Walter de Gruyter, 2003
  4. ^ Ladefoged & Maddieson (1996:167)
  5. ^ a b Donaldson (1993), p. 15.
  6. ^ Watson (2002), pp. 17.
  7. ^ Watson (2002), pp. 17, 19-20, 35-36 and 38.
  8. ^ Dum-Tragut (2009:13)
  9. ^ a b Basbøll (2005:62)
  10. ^ Basbøll (2005:66)
  11. ^ Ladefoged & Maddieson (1996:323)
  12. ^ Booij (1999:8)
  13. ^ a b Collins & Mees (2003:39, 54, 179, 196, 199–201, 291)
  14. ^ a b Goeman & van de Velde (2001:91–92, 94–95, 97, 99, 101–104, 107–108)
  15. ^ a b Verstraten & van de Velde (2001:51–55)
  16. ^ a b Verhoeven (2005:245)
  17. ^ a b Verstraten & van de Velde (2001:52)
  18. ^ Goeman & van de Velde (2001:91–92, 94–95, 97, 102)
  19. ^ a b c d Verstraten & van de Velde (2001:54)
  20. ^ a b c Wells (1982:390)
  21. ^ Hickey (2007:?)
  22. ^ a b c d e Ladefoged & Maddieson (1996:236)
  23. ^ a b Ogden (2009:93)
  24. ^ a b Hall (1993:89)
  25. ^ a b c d 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.
  26. ^ 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.
  27. ^ a b Canepari (1999), pp. 98–101.
  28. ^ a b c d Gilles & Trouvain (2013), p. 68.
  29. ^ Cruz-Ferreira (1995:92)
  30. ^ a b (in Portuguese) Rhotic consonants in the speech of three municipalities of Rio de Janeiro: Petrópolis, Itaperuna and Paraty. Page 11.
  31. ^ (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.
  32. ^ (in Portuguese) The acoustic-articulatory path of the lateral palatal consonant's allophony. Pages 229 and 230.


  • Basbøll, Hans (2005), The Phonology of Danish, ISBN 0-203-97876-5
  • 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
  • Dum-Tragut, Jasmine (2009), Armenian: Modern Eastern Armenian, Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company
  • 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
  • Krech, Eva Maria; Stock, Eberhard; Hirschfeld, Ursula; Anders, Lutz-Christian (2009), Deutsches Aussprachewörterbuch, Berlin, New York: Walter de Gruyter, ISBN 978-3-11-018202-6
  • Ladefoged, Peter; Maddieson, Ian (1996). The Sounds of the World's Languages. Oxford: Blackwell. ISBN 978-0-631-19815-4.
  • Ogden, Richard (2009), An Introduction to English Phonetics, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press Ltd., ISBN 978-0-7486-2540-6
  • Sjoberg, Andrée F. (1963), Uzbek Structural Grammar, Uralic and Altaic Series, 18, Bloomington: Indiana University
  • 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
  • Watson, Janet C. E. (2002), The Phonology and Morphology of Arabic, New York: Oxford University Press
  • Wells, John C. (1982), Accents of English, 2: The British Isles, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

External links

Bruges dialect

The Bruges dialect (Standard Dutch and West Flemish: Brugs) is a West Flemish dialect used in Bruges. It is rapidly declining, being replaced with what scholars call general (rural) West Flemish.

Dorsal consonant

Dorsal consonants are consonants articulated with the back of the tongue (the dorsum). They include the palatal, velar and, in some cases, alveolo-palatal and uvular consonants. They contrast with coronal consonants, articulated with the flexible front of the tongue, and laryngeal consonants, articulated in the pharyngeal cavity.

Ge with inverted breve

Ge with inverted breve (Г̑ г̑; italics: Г̑ г̑) is a letter of the Cyrillic script.

Ge with inverted breve is used in the Aleut language, where it represents the voiced uvular fricative /ʁ/. It corresponds to Latin letter G with circumflex (Ĝ ĝ Ĝ ĝ).

Ge with stroke and hook

Ge with stroke and hook (Ӻ ӻ; italics: Ӻ ӻ) is a letter of the Cyrillic script, formed from the Cyrillic letter Ge (Г г Г г) by adding a horizontal stroke and a hook. In Unicode this letter is called "Ghe with stroke and hook". Also despite having a similar shape, it is not related to the Latin letter Ƒ.

Ge with stroke and hook is only used in the Nivkh language, where it represents the voiced uvular fricative /ʁ/.


The letter Ƣ (minuscule: ƣ) has been used in the Latin orthographies of various, mostly Turkic languages, such as Azeri or the Jaꞑalif orthography for Tatar. It usually represents a voiced velar fricative [ɣ] but is sometimes used for a voiced uvular fricative [ʁ]. All orthographies using it have been phased out, so the letter is not well-supported in fonts. It can still be seen in pre-1983 books published by the People’s Republic of China.

Historically, it is derived from a handwritten form of the small Latin letter q, around 1900. The majuscule is then based on the minuscule. Its use for [ɣ] stems from the linguistic tradition of representing such sounds (and similar ones) by q in Turkic languages and in transcriptions of Arabic or Persian (compare kaf and qaf).In alphabetical order, it comes between G and H.

Ghayn (Cyrillic)

The Cyrillic letter Ge stroke or Ayn (in Kazakh) (Ғ,ғ) is a Г with a horizontal stroke. It is used in Kazakh and Uzbek where it represents a voiced uvular fricative /ʁ/. Despite having a similar shape, it is not related to the F of the Latin alphabet. In Kazakh, this letter may also represent the voiced velar fricative /ɣ/.

Guttural R

In common parlance, "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 languages with guttural R typically regard guttural and coronal rhotics to be alternative pronunciations of the same phoneme, despite articulatory differences. Similar consonants are found in other parts of the world, but they often have little to no cultural association or interchangeability with coronal rhotics (such as [r], [ɾ], and [ɹ]) and are (perhaps) not rhotics at all.

The guttural realization of a lone rhotic consonant is typical in most of what is now France, French speaking Belgium, most of Germany, large parts of the Netherlands, Denmark, the southern parts of Sweden and southwestern parts of Norway; it is also frequent in Flanders, and among all French- and some German speakers in Switzerland and also in eastern Austria, including Vienna. German speakers who use the frontal-R now mainly live in the Alps or close by.

Outside of central Europe, it also occurs as the normal pronunciation of one of two rhotic phonemes (usually replacing an older alveolar trill) in most of Portugal, various parts of Brazil, among minorities of other Portuguese-speaking regions, and in parts of Puerto Rico, Cuba and the Dominican Republic.


Labialization is a secondary articulatory feature of sounds in some languages. Labialized sounds involve the lips while the remainder of the oral cavity produces another sound. The term is normally restricted to consonants. When vowels involve the lips, they are called rounded.

The most common labialized consonants are labialized velars. Most other labialized sounds also have simultaneous velarization, and the process may then be more precisely called labio-velarization.

In phonology, labialization may also refer to a type of assimilation process.

Sierra Leonean English

Sierra Leonean English is the dialect of English spoken by Sierra Leoneans which has been heavily influenced by the Sierra Leone Creole people.


Småländska (Swedish for "Smålandian") is the accent of Swedish spoken in the historical province of Småland in southern Sweden. The northeastern accents are mainly influenced by the Central Swedish accents while the southwest has been more influenced by Southern Swedish accents, like that of Halland and Scania. Among the most distinguishing features of southern Småländska is the use of a uvular trill [ʀ] (most often realized as a voiced uvular fricative [ʁ]) for the Swedish phoneme /r/.

A major isogloss runs straight through Småland in a rough line from the border to Västergötland in the west through Jönköping and to the coastal town of Mönsterås in the east, 40 km north of Kalmar. The isogloss divides the dorsal realizations of /r/ in the south and the transitional area that uses both coronal and dorsal realization encompassing large parts of Västergötland, Östergötland, Värmland and Bohuslän. North of this transitional area only coronal realizations such as alveolar trills [r], alveolar taps [ɾ] and voiced retroflex fricatives [ʐ] are used.

Uvular consonant

Uvulars are consonants articulated with the back of the tongue against or near the uvula, that is, further back in the mouth than velar consonants. Uvulars may be stops, fricatives, nasals, trills, or approximants, though the IPA does not provide a separate symbol for the approximant, and the symbol for the voiced fricative is used instead. Uvular affricates can certainly be made but are rare: they occur in some southern High-German dialects, as well as in a few African and Native American languages. (Ejective uvular affricates occur as realizations of uvular stops in Lillooet, Kazakh and Georgian.) Uvular consonants are typically incompatible with advanced tongue root, and they often cause retraction of neighboring vowels.

Uvular fricative

Uvular fricative can refer to:

Voiced uvular fricative, a consonant sound written as ⟨ʁ⟩ in the International Phonetic Alphabet

Voiceless uvular fricative, a consonant written as ⟨χ⟩

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.

Voiced uvular stop

The voiced uvular stop or voiced uvular plosive is a type of consonantal sound, used in some spoken languages. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is ⟨ɢ⟩, and the equivalent X-SAMPA symbol is G\.

[ɢ] is a rare sound, even compared to other uvulars. Vaux (1999) proposes a phonological explanation: uvular consonants normally involve a neutral or a retracted tongue root, whereas voiced stops often involve advanced tongue root: two articulations that cannot physically co-occur. This leads many languages of the world to have a voiced uvular fricative [ʁ] instead as the voiced counterpart of the voiceless uvular stop. Examples are Inuit; several Turkic languages such as Uyghur and Yakut; several Northwest Caucasian languages such as Abkhaz; and several Northeast Caucasian languages such as Ingush.

There is also the voiced pre-uvular stop in some languages, which is articulated slightly more front compared with the place of articulation of the prototypical voiced uvular stop, though not as front as the prototypical voiced velar stop. The International Phonetic Alphabet does not have a separate symbol for that sound, though it can be transcribed as ⟨ɢ̟⟩ (advanced ⟨ɢ⟩), ⟨ɡ̠⟩ or ⟨ɡ˗⟩ (both symbols denote a retracted ⟨ɡ⟩). The equivalent X-SAMPA symbols are G\_+ and g_-, respectively.


Ğ (g with breve) is a Latin letter found in the Turkish and Azerbaijani alphabets as well as the Latin alphabets of Laz, Crimean Tatar and Tatar. It traditionally represented the voiced velar fricative /ɣ/ or (in case of Tatar) the similar voiced uvular fricative /ʁ/ in all those languages. However, in Turkish, the phoneme has in most cases been reduced to a silent letter, serving as a vowel-lengthener.


Ġ (minuscule: ġ) is a letter of the Latin script, formed from G with the addition of a dot above the letter.


Ǧ/ǧ (G with caron, Unicode code points U+01E6 and U+01E7) is a letter used in several Latin orthographies.

In transliteration of South Azeri, ǧ represents /ɣ/, the voiced velar fricative.

In the Romany and Skolt Sami languages, it represents the palatalized g [ɟ͡ʝ].

It has also been used in Czech (and Slovak) orthographies until the middle of the 19th century to represent the

consonant /ɡ/, whereas "g" stood for /j/.

In a romanization of Pashto, ǧ is used to represent [ɣ] (equivalent to غ).

In the Berber Latin alphabet, ǧ is pronounced [d͡ʒ] as an English J, like in Jimmy.

In Lakota, ǧ represents voiced uvular fricative /ʁ/.

In DIN 31635 Arabic transliteration it represents the letter ﺝ (ǧīm).

Voiced uvular fricative (vector)
IPA topics
The letter R

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