The voiced alveolar tap or flap is a type of consonantal sound, used in some spoken languages. The symbol in the International Phonetic Alphabet that represents a dental, alveolar, or postalveolar tap or flap is [?].
The terms tap and flap are often used interchangeably. Peter Ladefoged proposed the distinction that a tap strikes its point of contact directly, as a very brief stop, and 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." That distinction between the alveolar tap and flap can be written in the IPA with tap [?] and flap [?], the 'retroflex' symbol being used for the one that starts with the tongue tip curled back behind the alveolar ridge. The distinction is noticeable in the speech of some American English speakers in distinguishing the words "potty" (tap [?]) and "party" (flap [?]).
For linguists who make the distinction, the coronal tap (as in Spanish pero) is transcribed as [?], and the flap (as in American English ladder) is transcribed as [?], the latter of 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.
The sound is often analyzed and thus interpreted by native English-speakers as an 'R-sound' in many foreign languages. In languages for which the segment is present but not phonemic, it is often an allophone of either an alveolar stop (, , or both) or a rhotic consonant (like the alveolar trill or the alveolar approximant).
If the alveolar tap is the only rhotic consonant in the language, it may be transcribed /r/ although that symbol technically represents the trill.
The voiced alveolar tapped fricative reported from some languages is actually a very brief voiced alveolar non-sibilant fricative.
|Voiced alveolar tap or flap|
Features of the voiced alveolar tap or flap:
|Arabic||Egyptian||||[?e?l]||'leg'||Contrasts with emphatic form. See Egyptian Arabic phonology|
|Armenian||Eastern||?||'minute'||Contrasts with in all positions.|
|Basque||begiratu||[be'?i?a?tu]||'look'||Contrasts with . See Basque phonology|
|Catalan||mira||['mi]||'look'||Contrasts with . See Catalan phonology|
|Danish||nordisk||['noisk]||'Nordic'||Possible realization of intervocalic /d/ between phonetic vowels. See Danish phonology|
|English||Cockney||better||['be]||'better'||Intervocalic allophone of /t/. In free variation with [? ~ t? ~ t?]. See Flapping|
|Australian||['be]||Intervocalic allophone of /t/, and also /d/ for some Australians. Used more often in Australia than in New Zealand. See Australian English phonology and Flapping|
|Dublin||Intervocalic allophone of /t/ and /d/, present in many dialects. In Local Dublin it can be [?] instead, unlike New and Mainstream. See English phonology and Flapping|
|Irish||three||[i:]||'three'||Conservative accents. Corresponds to [? ~ ? ~ ?] in other accents.|
|Scottish||Most speakers. Others use [? ~ r].|
|Older Received Pronunciation||Allophone of /?/|
|South African||Broad speakers. Can be [? ~ r] instead|
|Greek||? / mirós||[mi'o?s]||'thigh'||Somewhat retracted. Most common realization of . See Modern Greek phonology|
|Japanese[dubious ]||? / kokoro||'heart'|| Varies with . See Japanese phonology|
|Korean||/ yeoreum||[jm]||'summer'||Allophone of /l/ between vowels or between a vowel and an /h/|
|Portuguese||prato||['p?atu]||'dish'||Dental to retroflex allophones, varying by dialect. Contrasts only intervocalically with , with its guttural allophones. See Portuguese phonology|
|Scottish Gaelic||mòr||[mo:?]||'big'||Both the lenited and non-initial broad form of r. Often transcribed simply as /r/. The initial unlenited broad form is a trill [r?], while the slender form is  ([ð] in some dialects). See Scottish Gaelic phonology.|
|Spanish||caro||'expensive'||Contrasts with . See Spanish phonology|
|Tamil||?||[ma?am]||'tree'||See Tamil phonology|
|Turkish||ara||['ä?ä]||'interval'||Intervocalically; may not make full contact elsewhere. See Turkish phonology|
|West Coast Bajau||bara'||[ba.?a?]||'to tell'||Voiced dental flap in intervocalic position.|
Features of the alveolar nasal tap or flap:
|English||Estuary||twenty||'twenty'||Allophone of unstressed intervocalic /nt/ for some speakers, especially in rapid or casual speech. See English phonology,|
North American English regional phonology and Flapping