The Expansion of Approximant /r/ in Dutch


  • Renée Van Bezooijen Radboud University of Nijmegen


In present-day Standard Dutch as spoken in the Netherlands, three main categories of pronunciation variants of Irl can be distinguished, namely alveolar /r/, uvular /r/, and approximant /r/. Approximant /r/, the focus of this study, is the most recent variant. It was first mentioned by Kloeke in 1938 as a property of non-elderly citizens in the western, urbanized, and culturally dominant part of the country, which is nowadays referred to as the Randstad. Apart from the fact that the tongue approaches the palate without making contact, not much else is known about the phonetic properties of Dutch approximant /r/. However, its phonological behaviour is straightforward. It occurs only in the syllable coda. For example, Dutch approximant /r/ is used in a word like ster 'star', but not in a word like roos 'rose' or piraat 'pirate'. In a preliminary study of the geographical spread of Dutch approximant /r/ (Van Bezooijen 2005) recordings were made of children and their parents in two cities, namely Haarlem and Nijmegen. On the basis of the outcome I tentatively concluded that we are dealing with an ongoing change spreading from the Randstad to the more peripheral regions.

Author Biography

Renée Van Bezooijen, Radboud University of Nijmegen

Department of Linguistics




How to Cite

Van Bezooijen, R. (2014). The Expansion of Approximant /r/ in Dutch. Linguistica Atlantica, 27, 129–134. Retrieved from