Edit: I would also be willing to reward the bounty if someone can partially answer the question by stating if my proposed IPA is possible based on the description or not.

I am specifically asking about the dialects of Irish spoken in Connemara that have a tendency for a "slender" r with a distinct buzzing. Some friends and I have been discussing this topic on the Irish Language Learner's forum and we cannot come to a consensus. I believe that it might be [ɾ̝ʲ]. The sounds has the teeth closed so that it has the buzzing quality of /ʒ/ but has the lamina raised and tapping the tooth ridge - unlike /ʒ/ which has the posterodorsal part of the tongue bunched up.

Here are examples on Forvo of the sound in question. If there are multiple pronunciations take user BridEilis as the example.

Tomás de Bhaldraithe's description in The Irish of Cois Fhairrge, Co. Galway - A Phonetic Study

223. r' represents a voiced palatized flapped alveolar sound. The tip of the tongue makes one tap against the front part of the teeth-ridge. The sounds strikes the ear as somewhat similar to a short voiced palatized alveolar plosive. When in final position, the contact is released very slowly so that a slight affrication is heard.

The emphasis on the final sentence is mine as this is the specific sound I am asking about. Here is an image of what I believe the IPA might be.

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  • 2
    The position of the tongue and the manner of articulation are important to identify the sound. What you describe resembles a Czech sound, named voiced alveolar raised non-sonorant trill. There is an audio sample there. Does it resemble your sound? Any differences?
    – Yellow Sky
    Jan 16, 2014 at 20:35
  • That was what I initially thought of as well, but it's not a trill. It's a single flap or tap of the tongue. Jan 16, 2014 at 21:39
  • 1
    That's also why I picked the diacratic mark that I did in my "guess" above and the "fish hook" that ɾ̝ that is usually used for the tapped "r". Jan 16, 2014 at 21:42
  • Your description also reminded me of the Czech sound. But also the r sound of Turkish as produced by educated speakers in Istanbul. The Czech one is strongly trilled and buzzed at the same time. I'm never sure how best to describe the Turkish sound, lightly trilled, lightly buzzed? Listening to the Irish here it sounds more like the Turkish sound than the Czech one. I have no idea how IPA describes the Turkish sound but would love to know. Jan 20, 2014 at 17:17
  • 1
    Check with Prof. Raymond Hickey, who is a specialist of Irish dialects. The first one is a tap; the second one is a affricate. The tongue posture of tap/affricate depends on the vowel that comes before; in this case, it sounds like an open-mid central vowel.
    – RainDoctor
    Jan 21, 2014 at 9:40

1 Answer 1


Based on Bhaldraithe's description, I would transcribe it as [d͡ɹ̝̆ʲ] or [d͜ð̠̆ʲ]. One may call it a palatalized alveolar tapped affricate. (This is a narrow transcription. The tie bars and diacritics [˘ ˔ ˗] are better omitted in ordinary transcriptions to avoid clutter.)

[ɾ] represents a coronal tap or flap, which means the tongue briefly touches the roof of the mouth. Albeit brief, it usually implies a complete occlusion, so the raised diacritic [˔] doesn't really make sense.

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