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Tom 52 (2014)

More on the Rhotic Tap and the Implications of Its Structure

  • Carmen Florina Savu
20 sierpnia 2014


This sound is typically considered to be, from the phonetic point of view, a simple small constricted interval because this is how it appears on a spectrogram when it is in intervocalic context. More recent studies Stolarski 2011; Savu 2011, 2012 consider and argue that the tap is actually comprised of two vowel-like elements flanking this small constriction. After presenting the argument leading to this conclusion and briefly discussing the quality of the tap’s vocoids as shown through phonetic experiments, I approach the implications of this sound having the aforementioned structure. Specifically, I address the consequences for the status of syllabic /r/ in Macedonian and the different perception of /CɨrC/ sequences by speakers of Romanian and Slavic languages with syllabic /r/. In addition to this, I show how this structure of the tap suggests a possible phonetic account for vowel-rhotic metathesis between consonants as the migration of the constriction on a vocalic continuum provided by the tap and the full vowel.


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