Retroflex flap

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Retroflex flap
IPA number 125
Entity (decimal) ɽ
Unicode (hex) U+027D
Kirshenbaum *.
Braille ⠲ (braille pattern dots-256) ⠗ (braille pattern dots-1235)

The retroflex flap is a type of consonantal sound, used in some spoken languages. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is ⟨ɽ⟩, and the equivalent X-SAMPA symbol is r`.


Features of the retroflex flap:

  • Its manner of articulation is flap, which means it is produced with a single contraction of the muscles so that one articulator (usually the tongue) is thrown against another.
  • Its place of articulation is retroflex, which prototypically means it is articulated subapical (with the tip of the tongue curled up), but more generally, it means that it is postalveolar without being palatalized. That is, besides the prototypical sub-apical articulation, the tongue contact can be apical (pointed) or laminal (flat).
  • 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.


Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Bengali গাড়ি [ɡaɽiː] 'car' See Bengali phonology
Dutch[1][2] North Brabant[3] riem [ɽim] 'belt' A rare variant of /r/;[4][5] occurs almost exclusively word-initially.[6] Realization of /r/ varies considerably among dialects. See Dutch phonology
Northern Netherlands[3][7]
Elfdalian luv [ɽʏːv] 'permission'
Enga la [jɑɽɑ] 'shame'
Hausa bara [bəɽa] 'servant' Represented in Arabic script with ⟨ر⟩
Hindi ड़ा [bəɽäː] 'big' Represented by ⟨ड़⟩. Hindi contrasts unaspirated and aspirated forms. See Hindi-Urdu phonology
Nepali[8] भाड़ा [bʱaɽa] 'rent' See Nepali phonology
Norwegian Eastern and central dialects blad [bɽɑː] 'leaf', 'blade' Allophone of /ɭ/. See Norwegian phonology
Almost the same as above bord [buːɽ] 'board', 'table' Allophone of /r/. See Norwegian phonology
Portuguese Some European speakers[9] falar [fəˈlaɽ] 'to speak' Allophone of /ɾ/. May rhotacize ("color") preceding vowel. See Portuguese phonology
Brazilian caipira speakers[10][11] madeira [mɐˈdeːɽə] 'wood', 'timber'
Some sertanejo speakers[12] gargalhar [ɡaɽɡɐˈʎaɽ] 'to chortle',
'to guffaw'
Punjabi ਘੋੜਾ [kòːɽɑ̀ː] 'horse'
Swedish Some dialects blad [bɽɑː(d)] 'leaf' Allophone of /l/. See Swedish phonology
Spanish Paraguay perder [peɽdeɽ] 'to lose'
Urdu سڑک [səɽək] 'road' see Hindi-Urdu phonology
Venetian Venice area bara [baɽa] 'coffin'

Japanese /r/ may be transcribed with ⟨ɽ⟩, in which case it represents the postalveolar flap rather than retroflex.[13] Toda has a retroflex trill, which is transcribed with the same IPA symbol.

See also


  1. ^ Goeman & van de Velde (2001:91, 94–95, 97, 101, 107)
  2. ^ Verstraten & van de Velde (2001:50–51, 53–55)
  3. ^ a b Goeman & van de Velde (2001:107)
  4. ^ Goeman & van de Velde (2001:95, 97, 101 and 107)
  5. ^ Verstraten & van de Velde (2001:50–51, 53–54)
  6. ^ Goeman & van de Velde (2001:95)
  7. ^ Verstraten & van de Velde (2001:54)
  8. ^ Khatiwada (2009:377)
  9. ^ Lista das marcas dialetais e ouros fenómenos de variação (fonética e fonológica) identificados nas amostras do Arquivo Dialetal do CLUP (in Portuguese)
  10. ^ (in Portuguese) Acoustic-phonetic characteristics of the Brazilian Portuguese's retroflex /r/: data from respondents in Pato Branco, Paraná. Irineu da Silva Ferraz. Pages 19–21
  11. ^ (in Portuguese) Syllable coda /r/ in the "capital" of the paulista hinterland: sociolinguistic analisis. Cândida Mara Britto LEITE. Page 111 (page 2 in the attached PDF)
  12. ^ (in Portuguese) Rhotic consonants in the speech of three municipalities of Rio de Janeiro: Petrópolis, Itaperuna and Paraty. Pages 22 and 23.
  13. ^ Okada (1991:95)


  • 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, 'r-atics, Brussels: Etudes & Travaux, pp. 91–112, ISSN 0777-3692 
  • Khatiwada, Rajesh (2009), "Nepali", Journal of the International Phonetic Association, 39 (3): 337–380, doi:10.1017/s0025100309990181 
  • Okada, Hideo (1991), "Japanese", Journal of the International Phonetic Association, 21 (2): 94–96, doi:10.1017/S002510030000445X 
  • Verstraten, Bart; van de Velde, Hans (2001), "Socio-geographical variation of /r/ in standard Dutch", in van de Velde, Hans; van Hout, Roeland, 'r-atics, Brussels: Etudes & Travaux, pp. 45–61, ISSN 0777-3692 
  • Heide, Eldar, 2010: «Tjukk l – Retroflektert tydeleggjering av kort kvantitet. Om kvalitetskløyvinga av det gamle kvantitetssystemet.» Maal og minne, s. 3-44.
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