The retroflex approximant is a type of consonant used in some languages. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents this sound is ⟨ɻ⟩, and the equivalent X-SAMPA symbol is r\`. The IPA symbol is a turned lowercase letter r with a rightward hook protruding from the lower right of the letter.
Features of the retroflex approximant:
- Its manner of articulation is approximant, which means it is produced by narrowing the vocal tract at the place of articulation, but not enough to produce a turbulent airstream.
- 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.
The retroflex approximant occurs in American English, Hiberno-English, West Country English, Mandarin Chinese, Pashto, a few Brazilian Portuguese dialects and some languages of India such as Tamil and Malayalam, as well as several Australian Aboriginal and Indigenous South American languages.
|| 肉 ròu
|| About this sound [ɻoʊ̯˥˩] (help·info)
|| Can be a fricative [ʐ] for some speakers. See Standard Chinese phonology
|| Some Netherlandic speakers
|| Tongue bunched and root retracted, giving rise to retroflex resonance. Used by some speakers. Only occurs in the syllable coda. See Dutch phonology
|| Some American dialects
|| See English phonology
| Some Hiberno-English dialects
| Some West Country English
|| Allophone of /r/. Sometimes voiceless [ɻ̊]. See Faroese phonology
|| Cretan Greek (Sfakia and Mylopotamos variations) region
|| γάλα gála
|| Intervocalic allophone of /l/ before /a o u/. Recessive. See Modern Greek phonology
|| 'to rot'
|| Koḻe: This consonant, ḻ, widely used in Old Kannada, has fallen out of use in writing and speaking in modern Kannada; however, the Kannada alphabet maintains a character for this consonant and it is present as a phoneme in certain dialects.
|| vaḻi; "way"
|| Allophone of retroflex lateral flap /ɭ̆/. See Pashto phonology
| Pitjantjatjara dialect of the Western Desert language
|| Inland Centro-Sul dialects
||Allophone of rhotic consonant, and seldom /l/, in the syllable codas. The retroflex approximant is stigmatised as erre caipira "hillbilly r" mostly found in the non-metropolitan hinterlands of São Paulo, Paraná, south of Minas Gerais and surrounding areas, but may also be post-alveolar, alveolar and/or rhotic vowel, the more common realization in metropolitan areas and the coast. As with [ɽ], it appeared as mutation of Iberian /ɾ/ in the development of Brazilian Portuguese from several Amerindian languages (most importantly the línguas gerais) and Old Portuguese (português arcaico) spoken by non-natives of the latter, in the countryside of its more southern states, while more northern dialects started to use the guttural sounds equivalent to Portuguese /ʁ/ in the syllable coda. Originally, both of these major variants elided rs in final of words with more than one syllable, a feature that as with many common Romance characteristics, colloquial Brazilian Portuguese still shares with languages such as Catalan, but now this trait is not more ubiquitous, neither with dialects that use guttural nor with those that use coronal approximant /r/. See Portuguese phonology.
| Brazilian Caipira speakers
|| vaḻi "way"
|| See Tamil phonology
- Árnason, Kristján (2011), The Phonology of Icelandic and Faroese, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0-19-922931-4
- Keane, Elinor (2004), "Tamil", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 34 (1): 111–116, doi:10.1017/S0025100304001549
- Trudgill, Peter (1989), "The Sociophonetics of /l/ in the Greek of Sphakiá", Journal of the International Phonetic Association 15 (2): 18–22, doi:10.1017/S0025100300002942