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In phonetics, a trill is a consonantal sound produced by vibrations between the articulator and the place of articulation. Standard Spanish <rr> as in perro, for example is an alveolar trill.

Trills are very different from flaps. Whereas with a flap (or tap), a specific gesture is used to strike the active articulator against the passive one, in the case of a trill the articulator is held in place, where the airstream causes it to vibrate. Usually a trill vibrates for 2–3 periods, but may be up to 5, or even more if geminate. However, trills may also be produced with only a single period. While this might seem like a flap, the articulation is different; trills will vary in the number of periods, but flaps do not.

Trill consonants included in the International Phonetic Alphabet:

The bilabial trill is uncommon. The coronal trill is most frequently alveolar [r͇], but dental and postalveolar articulations [r̪] and [r̠] also occur. An alleged retroflex trill found in Toda has been transcribed [ɽ] (that is, the same as the retroflex flap), but might be less ambiguously written [ɽ͡r], as only the onset is retroflex, with the actual trill being alveolar. One other trill has been reported as a consonant, an epiglottal trill. Epiglottal consonants are often allophonically trilled, [1] and in some languages the trill is the primary realization of the consonant. There is no official symbol for this in the IPA, but occasionally [я] has been used in the literature[by whom?]. There are also so-called strident vowels which are accompanied by epiglottal trill.

The cells in the IPA chart for the velar and pharyngeal places of articulation are shaded. A velar trill is impossible because the middle of the tongue and walls of the throat are insufficiently flexible to vibrate in such a manner.[citation needed] A palatal trill is impractically difficult, if not actually impossible. The glottis quite readily vibrates, but this occurs as the phonation of vowels and consonants, not as a consonant of its own.

The Czech language has two contrastive alveolar trills, one a fricative trill (written ř in the orthography). In the fricative trill the tongue is raised, so that there is audible frication during the trill, sounding rather like a simultaneous [r] and [ʐ]. A symbol for this sound, [ɼ], has been dropped from the IPA, and it is now generally transcribed as a raised r, [r̝].

Liangshan (Cool Mountain) Yi has two "buzzed" or fricative vowels /i̝/, /u̝/ (written ṳ, i̤) which may also be trilled, [ʙ̝], [r̝].

The Chapakuran language Wari’ and the Muran language Pirahã have a very unusual trilled phoneme, a voiceless bilabially post-trilled dental stop, [t̪͡ʙ̥].

Extralinguistic trills[edit]

A linguolabial trill [r̼] is not known to be used phonemically, but occurs when blowing a raspberry.

Snoring typically consists of vibration of the uvula and the soft palate (velum). While the former part is simply a uvular trill, there is no standard linguistic term for the latter. It does not constitute a velar trill, because the velum is here the active articulator, not the passive; the tongue is not involved at all. (The Extensions to the IPA identify a fricative pronounced with this same configuration as velopharyngeal.)

Lateral trills are also possible and may be used to imitate bird calls.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ listen (epiglottal fricative)

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trill_consonant — Please support Wikipedia.
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