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The voiced 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 (as in Spanish pero) is transcribed with ⟨?⟩, and the flap (as in American English ladder) is transcribed with a non-IPA symbol ⟨?⟩ (not to be confused with the IPA symbol ⟨?⟩, which stands for the open back rounded vowel). 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 non-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 with ⟨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

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


Alveolar flap.svg

Features of the voiced alveolar tap or flap:


Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Arabic Egyptian[2] [?e?l] 'leg' Contrasts with emphatic form. See Egyptian Arabic phonology
Lebanese [] 'wages'
Moroccan / rma [?ma] 'he threw'
Armenian Eastern[3] ? 'minute' Contrasts with in all positions.
Assyrian ? rìsha [?i?a] 'head' Contrasts with 'dark' R.
Basque begiratu [be'?i?a?tu] 'look' Contrasts with . See Basque phonology
Bengali ? [aba?] 'again' Corresponds to [r ~ ?] in others and may occur word-medially and finally against [r]. See Bengali phonology
Catalan[4] mira ['mi] 'look' Contrasts with . See Catalan phonology
Danish[5][6] nordisk ['noisk] 'Nordic' Possible realization of intervocalic /d/ between phonetic vowels.[5][6] See Danish phonology
English Cockney[7] better ['be] 'better' Intervocalic allophone of /t/. In free variation with [? ~ t? ~ t?]. See Flapping
Australian[8] ['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[9] ['be]
Dublin[10] 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[11]
West Country
Irish three [i:] 'three' Conservative accents. Corresponds to [? ~ ? ~ ?] in other accents.
Scottish[12] Most speakers. Others use [? ~ r].
Older Received Pronunciation[13] Allophone of /?/
South African[12] Broad speakers. Can be [? ~ r] instead
Esperanto Esperanto [espe'?anto] 'one who hopes' Usually a flap , but can be a trilled r. See Esperanto phonology
Greek[14] ? / mirós [mi'o?s] 'thigh' Somewhat retracted. Most common realization of . See Modern Greek phonology
Hindustani / ?? [me:?a:] 'My' Allophone of /r/ in intervocalic position. See Hindustani phonology.
Japanese[dubious ] ? / kokoro 'heart' [15] Varies with .[16] See Japanese phonology
Korean / yeoreum [jm] 'summer' Allophone of /l/ between vowels or between a vowel and an /h/
Malay Johor-Riau[disambiguation needed] ?? / ratus [?ä.tos] 'hundred' Common realisation of /r/. May be trill [r] or postalveolar approximant []. See Malay phonology
M?ori whare [?a] 'house' Sometimes trilled.
Nepali[17] [t?ä?ä] 'star' Intervocalic allophone of /r/. See Nepali phonology
Norwegian[18] bare ['b:.] 'only' May be realised as a trill [r], approximant [?] or uvular [?~?] depending on dialect. See Norwegian phonology
Odia /r?ti [?äti] 'night'
Polish który ['kt?u.] 'which' Can also sometimes be an approximant, a fricative, and rarely - a trill. See Polish phonology
Portuguese[19] 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 a trill [r?], while the slender form is [] ([ð] in some dialects). See Scottish Gaelic phonology.
Spanish[20] caro 'expensive' Contrasts with . See Spanish phonology
Tamil ? [ma?am] 'tree' See Tamil phonology
Turkish[21] ara ['ä?ä] 'interval' Intervocalically; may not make full contact elsewhere.[21] See Turkish phonology
Uzbek[22] ??/yomg'ir [m'] 'rain' Denti-alveolar.[22]
West Coast Bajau[23] bara' [ba.?a?] 'to tell' Voiced dental flap in intervocalic position.

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[24] 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[25]

See also


  1. ^ Valentin-Marquez (2015)
  2. ^ Watson (2002:16)
  3. ^ Dum-Tragut (2009:19)
  4. ^ Carbonell & Llisterri (1992:53)
  5. ^ a b Grønnum (2005:157)
  6. ^ a b Basbøll (2005:126)
  7. ^ Wells (1982:324-325)
  8. ^ Cox & Palethorpe (2007:343)
  9. ^ Trudgill & Hannah (2002:24)
  10. ^ "Glossary". Retrieved .
  11. ^ Ogden (2009:114)
  12. ^ a b c Ogden (2009:92)
  13. ^ Wise (1957:?)
  14. ^ Arvaniti (2007:15-18)
  15. ^ Labrune (2012), p. 92.
  16. ^ Akamatsu (1997), p. 106.
  17. ^ Khatiwada, Rajesh (December 2009). "Nepali". Journal of the International Phonetic Association. 39 (3): 373-380. doi:10.1017/S0025100309990181. ISSN 1475-3502.
  18. ^ Kristoffersen, Gjert (2015). "En innføring i norsk fonologi" [An introduction to Norwegian phonology] (PDF) (in Norwegian) (4 ed.). University of Bergen: 21. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2018-10-24. Retrieved . I østlandsk er denne lyden normalt en såkalt tapp Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  19. ^ Cruz-Ferreira (1995:91)
  20. ^ Martínez-Celdrán, Fernández-Planas & Carrera-Sabaté (2003:255)
  21. ^ a b Yavuz & Balc? (2011:25)
  22. ^ a b Sjoberg (1963:13)
  23. ^ Miller, Mark T. (2007). A Grammar of West Coast Bajau (Ph.D. thesis). University of Texas at Arlington. p. 34. hdl:10106/577.
  24. ^ Kwan-Young Oh. "Reanalysis of Flapping on Level Approach". Retrieved .
  25. ^ Tomasz P. Szynalski. "Flap t FAQ". Retrieved .


External links

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