Phonetics, Phonology, Praat, Spectrogram

Flap vs. Trill (ɾ vs. r)

In Spanish [r] and [ɾ] have phonemic status: they provide a difference meaning forming a minimal pair. During my studies, I was told that Spanish ‘but’ <pero> [peɾo] and ‘dog’ <perro>[pero] form such a minimal pair (please correct me if I’m wrong). Since I am able to pronounce the rolled/trilled /r/ as well as the flapped one, I recorded myself (but I hope to deliver a recording of a native speaker of Spanish some day soon). This is the very spectrogram:

Praat Spectrogram <pero> <perro>

You can clearly see that in <pero> there is just one single flap (or tap) of the tongue against the alveolar ridge, whereas as in <perro> the tongue flaps against it several times (5 times to be precise). Also perfectly visible: the plosive /p/ with an opening of the lips (before the dark vertical line) and the “explosion”: airstream bursts out at once (dark line itself), and finally the aspiration (/p, t, k/ tend to be unaspirated in Spanish; since I am a native German speaker, who aspirates voiceless plosives as well as English native speakers do, the aspiration does occur in the spectrogram.) The vowels are clearly detectable as well.

Stay curious and have a nice weekend!

Lisa.

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