How can I describe a tap or a flap using distinctive features? Is {[+consonantal] [+coronal] [-continuant] [+sonorant]} enough?

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    [+sonorant]. Flaps/taps tend to be voiced. – Greg Lee Aug 8 '17 at 21:49

The standard SPE analysis is that a flap is a sonorant stop, and the feature assignment is [+cons,-cont,+son,+coronal] for a generic lingual tap: then you add other features to specify a particular coronal place of articulation. Features like lateral, nasal, voice etc. can be independently varied. This is not entirely problem-free, however. There is a nasal flap in "fast speech" in English [wɪ̃ɾ̃ɹ̩] 'winter' (see also the discussion of the "divinity fudge" problem in Stampe 1972, Lee & Howard 1974, and other thoughts on that flap by John Wells). The reason why this would be a problem is that [n] is [+cons,-cont,+son,+cor,+nasal] – featurally the same as a nasalized alveolar flap. However, the nasal flap qua phonological object could be disposed of by re-transcribing such examples as [wɪ̃ɾɹ̩], [dəvɪ̃ɾi] (one of the variants of "divinity"), and the physical fact of nasalization after a nasal vowel can be attributed to phonetic implementation (post-nasal nasalization).

If the "sonorant stop" theory is correct, there can't be a flapped fricative. Laver p. 263 *Principles of phonetics *describes how such a thing might be articulated (that is, it is not a physical impossibility), but it remains linguistically unattested. The phonological account for that is, of course, that if it's [+continuant], it's not a flap/

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    The final [ɹ̩] of [wɪ̃ɾ̃ɹ̩] is also nasalized. – Greg Lee Aug 9 '17 at 2:15

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