There are guttural sounds such as the French R so I'm guessing that there is name for the category of speech sound in which the tongue vibrates! For example, in the words pater, et rubente http://www.stilus.nl/horatius/HorCarI-2IamSatisTerris.htm and in the word precāmur! http://www.stilus.nl/horatius/HorCar-CarmenSaeculare.htm

I'm not just talking about trills but the vibrations that the tongue does in Classical Latin, Romance Languages, and other languages!

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    The tongue doesn’t ‘vibrate’ as such. You’re probably looking for the term trill, which is a sound made by two articulators in the oral tract quickly and repeatedly touching and then not touching each other. In an alveolar trill, like in Spanish perro, it’s the tongue that moves up and down quickly (the alveolar ridge stays still), but in a French r, the tongue doesn’t move: it’s the uvula that moves back and forth over the tongue. There are also labial trills, like the ‘prrr’ sound we make to imitate a horse (phonetically [p͡ʙːː]). Jun 25, 2022 at 14:12
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    I don't understand in what sense the tongue does not vibrate as such.
    – user6726
    Jun 25, 2022 at 15:12
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    @user6726 Vibration implies continued movement over a longer period of time. At least to me, trills found in natural speech cannot be classified as vibration, though prolonged trills (like when imitating helicopter rotors) might perhaps. I would also think of vibrating as something that involves an entire object, not just a small part of it, like the tip of the tongue. Jun 25, 2022 at 15:34
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    "I'm not just talking about trills but the vibrations that the tongue does in Classical Latin, Romance Languages, and other languages" – What does this mean? How are they different from alveolar trills?
    – Nardog
    Jun 26, 2022 at 0:20
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    Could you give a particular example of one of the sounds that you're thinking of that is not a trill? Jun 26, 2022 at 1:04

1 Answer 1


The name of the category is trill. The R sound in the linked demonstrations of Latin is not a "guttural" sound but an alveolar trill, [r], where the tip of the tongue vibrates against the roof of the mouth, which is traditionally believed to have been the R sound in Latin, though arguments have been made that it was more likely an alveolar tap, [ɾ], the sound in American English atom.

The trill in French, or in modern Paris/Brussels/Montreal/etc French at least, is uvular rather than alveolar, which may be categorized under "guttural". In the uvular trill, [ʀ], it is not the tongue that vibrates. Instead it's the uvula, the piece of flesh dangling at the back end of the roof of the mouth. In many modern varieties of French, the tongue does not make as narrow a constriction as a typical uvular trill, so that it is better classified as a fricative [ʁ] or approximant [ʁ̞], though some trilling of the uvula can still be heard even in such cases.

  • (The last paragraph in the question was added after this answer was posted.)
    – Nardog
    Jun 26, 2022 at 0:24

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