Alveolar Tap
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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 [?].

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 [?] and flap [?], 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 [?]) and "party" (flap [?]).

For linguists who make the distinction, the coronal tap is transcribed as [?], and the flap is transcribed as [?], 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 (, , 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 flap

Alveolar tap or flap
IPA Number124
Entity (decimal)ɾ
Unicode (hex)U+027E
Braille? (braille pattern dots-235)? (braille pattern dots-1235)
Audio sample


Features of the alveolar tap or flap:


Dental or denti-alveolar

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


Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Afrikaans Standard[4] rooi [?o:i?] 'red' May be a trill instead.[4] See Afrikaans phonology
Arabic Egyptian[5] [?e?l] 'leg' Contrasts with emphatic form. See Egyptian Arabic phonology
Lebanese [] 'wages'
Assyrian Neo-Aramaic [:] 'ground' Used predominantly. , however, is used in some dialects
Armenian Eastern[6] ? 'minute' Contrasts with in all positions.
Basque begiratu [be'?i?a?tu] 'look' Contrasts with . See Basque phonology
Bulgarian ? / reka ['ka] 'river'
Catalan[7] mira ['mi] 'look' Contrasts with . See Catalan phonology
Danish[8][9] Vil du med? [?e? ?u 'me] '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 ['be] 'better' Intervocalic allophone of /t/. In free variation with [? ~ t? ~ t?]. See Flapping
Australian[11] ['be] 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] ['be]
Dublin Intervocalic allophone of /t/ and /d/, present in many dialects. In Local Dublin it can be [?] instead, unlike New and Mainstream. See English phonology and Flapping
North America[13]
West Country
Irish three [i:] 'three' Conservative accents. Corresponds to [? ~ ? ~ ?] in other accents.
Scottish[14] Most speakers. Others use [? ~ r].
Older Received Pronunciation[15] Allophone of /?/
South African[14] Broad speakers. Can be [? ~ r] instead
Esperanto esperanto [espe'?anto] 'person who hopes' Allophone of /r/. See Esperanto phonology
Greek[16] ? / mirós [mi'o?s] 'thigh' Somewhat retracted. Most common realization of . See Modern Greek phonology
Hindustani ?/? [t] 'meaning' See Hindustani phonology
Hungarian piros ['pi?o?] 'red' See Hungarian phonology
Italian caro ['ka?o] 'dear' Allophone of /r/ in unstressed intervocalic syllables; may also occur in other unstressed syllables.[17] See Italian phonology
Japanese ? / kokoro 'heart' Apical.[18] See Japanese phonology
Korean / yeoreum [jm] 'summer' Allophone of /l/ between vowels or between a vowel and an /h/
Limburgish Hasselt dialect[19] weuren ['ø:n] '(they) were' Possible intervocalic allophone of /r/; may be uvular instead.[19]
M?ori whare [?a] 'house'
Persian ? [?uz] 'day'
Portuguese[20] prato ['p?atu] 'dish' Dental to retroflex allophones, varying by dialect. Contrasts only intervocalically with , with its guttural allophones. See Portuguese phonology
Scottish Gaelic r [mo:?] 'big' Both the lenited and non-initial broad form of r. Often transcribed simply as /r/. The initial unlenited broad form is /r?/ (also transcribed as /?/ or /R/) while the slender form is // ([ð] in some dialects). See Scottish Gaelic phonology.
Slovene[21] amarant [ama'?a:n?t?] 'amaranth' Also described as trill ,[22] and variable between trill and tap [?].[23] See Slovene phonology
Spanish[24] caro 'expensive' Contrasts with . See Spanish phonology
Tagalog barya [b'ja] 'coin' Once allophones with /d/. May also be pronounced as a trill [25] or an approximant . See Tagalog phonology
Turkish[26] ara ['ä?ä] 'interval' Intervocalic realization of /?/.[26] See Turkish phonology
Yiddish Standard[27] ? [bk] 'bridge' Less commonly a trill ; can be uvular [ ~ ?] instead.[27] See Yiddish phonology
Zapotec Tilquiapan[28] ran [?a?] 'to see'


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

Alveolar nasal tap and flap

Alveolar nasal tap/flap
IPA Number124 424


Features of the alveolar nasal tap or flap:


Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
English[30] Estuary twenty '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 also


  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. ^ ?u?tar?i?, 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 & Balc? (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 .
  31. ^ Tomasz P. Szynalski. "Flap t FAQ". Retrieved .


External links

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