Alveolar tap

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 dental, alveolar, and postalveolar flaps is IPA|ɾ, and the equivalent X-SAMPA symbol is 4.


The terms "tap" and "flap" may be used interchangeably.

Peter Ladefoged proposed for a while that it may be useful to distinguish between them. However, his usage has been inconsistent, contradicting itself even between different editions of the same text. The last proposed distinction was that a tap strikes its point of contact directly, as a very brief plosive, whereas 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." However, later on, he no longer felt this was a useful distinction to make, and preferred to use the word "flap" in all cases.

For linguists who do make the distinction, the coronal tap is transcribed as a fish-hook "r", IPA| [ɾ] , while the flap is transcribed as a small capital "d", IPA| [ᴅ] , 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.

This sound is often analyzed (and therefore transcribed) by native English speakers as an 'R-sound' in many foreign languages. For example, the 'Japanese R' in "hara", "akira", "tora", etc. is actually an alveolar tap. In languages where this segment is present but is not a true phoneme, an alveolar tap is often an allophone of either an alveolar stop (/t/ or /d/) or an 'R-sound' i.e. an alveolar trill or alveolar approximant.


Features of the alveolar flap/t

* Its manner of articulation is tap or flap, which means it is produced with a single contraction of the muscles so that one articulator briefly strikes the other.
* Its place of articulation is alveolar which means it is articulated with the tip of the tongue against the alveolar ridge.
* Its phonation type is voiced, which means the vocal cords are vibrating during the articulation.
* It is an oral consonant, which means air is allowed to escape through the mouth.
* It is a central consonant, which means it is produced by allowing the airstream to flow over the middle of the tongue, rather than the sides.
* The airstream mechanism is pulmonic egressive, which means it is articulated by pushing air out of the lungs and through the vocal tract, rather than from the glottis or the mouth.




*Harvard reference
first=Joan F.
journal=Journal of the International Phonetic Association

*Harvard reference
last = Cox
first= Felicity
last2 = Palethorpe
first2= Sallyanne
year= 2007
title=Australian English
journal=Journal of the International Phonetic Association

* Harvard reference
year= 1995
title=European Portuguese
journal=Journal of the International Phonetic Association

*Harvard reference
last = Martínez-Celdrán
first= Eugenio
last2 = Fernández-Planas
first2= Ana Ma.
last3 = Carrera-Sabaté
first3 = Josefina
year= 2003
title=Castilian Spanish
journal=Journal of the International Phonetic Association

*Harvard reference
last = Watson
first= Janet
year= 2002
title= The Phonology and Morphology of Arabic
place=New York
publisher= Oxford University Press

*Harvard reference
last = Watson
first= Kevin
year= 2007
title=Liverpool English
journal=Journal of the International Phonetic Association

ee also

* List of phonetic topics

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