Original Research

Die /r/ in Afrikaans: Fonetiese en fonologiese eienskappe

Daniel P. Wissing, Wikus Pienaar
Literator | Vol 41, No 1 | a1638 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/lit.v41i1.1638 | © 2020 Wikus Pienaar, Daniel P Wissing | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 12 July 2019 | Published: 18 September 2020

About the author(s)

Daniel P. Wissing, Centre for Text Technology (CTexT), North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa
Wikus Pienaar, Centre for Text Technology (CTexT), North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa


The / r / in Afrikaans: Phonetic and phonological features. One of the most common consonants in Afrikaans is the rhotic /r/ phoneme. In Afrikaans this phoneme has at least five allophone realisations. Firstly, an overview of the /r/ phoneme in Afrikaans is given. A comprehensive discussion is provided of the articulatory properties of the alveolar trill [r] and the uvular trill [ʀ]. This is followed by a discussion of the acoustical properties of [r] and [ʀ]. In-depth descriptions of the phonology of /r/ follow. Examples were taken from a variety of spoken databases. Extensive new examples are given of the phonological processes of /r/ omission, rhoticism, palatalisation, metathesis, and the influence of /r/ on the lowering and stretching of vowels. In some cases, these are complemented by audio clips. Basic statistical information is supplied about the extent to which processes are present in the standard variety of Afrikaans, and some other varieties. Secondly, we place the resultant findings concerning Afrikaans rhotic consonants within a broader linguistic framework. In 2001 Wiese encapsulates the essence of existing studies in this regard by looking into evidence of the role of rhotics as a systematic class in phonological patterning, their place in syllabic structures, and associated to that, the phonotactic unity of rhotics. The allophonic variation of rhotics, as well as the phonemic alternations thereof also gets attention. In 2009 Chabot reports that the arbitrary relation between the phonetic substance of rhotics and the associated phonological objects are devoid of any reference to phonetic categories. Our results are also in accordance with his conclusion in this regard.


Afrikaans; rhotics; consonants; rhotic /r/ phoneme; Afrikaans rhotic consonants


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