Dental and alveolar lateral flaps

Alveolar lateral flap
IPA number 181
Entity (decimal) ɺ
Unicode (hex) U+027A
Kirshenbaum *<lat>
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The alveolar lateral flap is a type of consonantal sound, used in some spoken languages. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is ɺ, a fusion of a rotated lowercase letter r with a letter l.

Some languages that are described as having a lateral flap actually have a flap that is indeterminate with respect to centrality, and may surface as either central or lateral, either in free variation or allophonically depending on surrounding vowels and consonants.[1]


Features of the alveolar lateral 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 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 lateral consonant, which means it is produced by directing the airstream over the sides of the tongue, rather than down the middle.



Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Chaga[2] Laminal dental.[2]


Language Word IPA Meaning Notes
Japanese[3] /roku [ɺo̞kɯ̟ᵝ] 'six' More commonly [ɾ]. See Japanese phonology
Kasua[4] hilila [hiɺiɺɑ] 'heavy' Never used at the beginning nor the end of a word.[4]
Pirahã toogixi [tòːɺ͡ɺ̼ìʔì] 'hoe' Only used in some types of speech
Wayuu püülükü [pɯːɺɯkɯ] 'pig' Contrasts with /r/

See also


  1. Ladefoged & Maddieson (1996), p. 243.
  2. 1 2 Ladefoged & Maddieson (1996), p. 213.
  3. Akamatsu (1997), p. 106.
  4. 1 2 Logan, Tommy (July 2003). "Organised Phonology Data" (PDF). SIL International.


  • Akamatsu, Tsutomu (1997), Japanese Phonetics: Theory and Practice, München: Lincom Europa, ISBN 3-89586-095-6 
  • Ladefoged, Peter; Maddieson, Ian (1996). The Sounds of the World's Languages. Oxford: Blackwell. ISBN 0-631-19814-8. 
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