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In phonetics, rhotic consonants, or "R-like" sounds, are liquid consonants that are traditionally represented orthographically by symbols derived from the Greek letter rho, including ⟨R⟩, ⟨r⟩ in the Latin script and ⟨Р⟩, ⟨p⟩ in the Cyrillic script. They are transcribed in the International Phonetic Alphabet by upper- or lower-case variants of Roman ⟨R⟩, ⟨r⟩: ⟨r⟩, ⟨ɾ⟩, ⟨ɹ⟩, ⟨ɻ⟩, ⟨ʀ⟩, ⟨ʁ⟩, ⟨ɽ⟩, and ⟨ɺ⟩. Transcriptions for vocalic or semivocalic realisations of underlying rhotics include the ⟨ə̯⟩ and ⟨ɐ̯⟩.
This class of sounds is difficult to characterise phonetically; from a phonetic standpoint, there is no single articulatory correlate (manner or place) common to rhotic consonants. Rhotics have instead been found to carry out similar phonological functions or to have certain similar phonological features across different languages.
Being "R-like" is an elusive and ambiguous concept phonetically and the same sounds that function as rhotics in some systems may pattern with fricatives, semivowels or even stops in others. For example, the alveolar flap is a rhotic consonant in many languages, but in North American English, the alveolar tap is an allophone of the stop phoneme /t/, as in water. It is likely that rhotics are not a phonetically-natural class but a phonological class.
Some languages have rhotic and non-rhotic varieties, which differ in the incidence of rhotic consonants. In non-rhotic accents of English, /ɹ/ is not pronounced unless it is followed directly by a vowel.
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