Academic Journal of Modern Philology vol. 3 (2014)
Carmen Florina Savu
University of Bucharest, Romania
More on the Rhotic Tap and the Implications of Its Structure
The topic of this paper is the rhotic segment with one constricted interval, the tap. 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 by 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 /C(ɨ)rC/ 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.
Keywords: rhotics, tap, vocalic elements, constriction, syllabic consonant, acoustic phonetics.