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Thread: The Letter R

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    #1

    The Letter R

    Can anyone tell me if there is a rule regarding when and when not to pronounce the letter r. I'm wondering if when it follows a vowel it is silent but if it follows a consonant it is pronounced. Am I going in the right direction?

    firth f3:T
    fur f3:
    murder m3:d&*
    worse w3:s

    bran brGn
    furry f3:rI
    umbrella ^m'brel&

    I always pronounce the letter r when I am speaking but is that because I'm Scottish?

  1. Jimmy_Q's Avatar

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    #2

    Re: The Letter R

    In the RP accent (the one that's taught at schools), the letter "r" is not pronounced at the end of a word and after a vowel (provided that the following letter is a consonant). It is pronounced between vowels, at the beginning of a word and after a consonant.

    And yes, Scottish English is a rhotic accent - that is, you pronounce "r" in all positions.

    Other rhotic accents are, for example, Irish English and most of American English accents (but, for example - New England, New York and Boston accents are exceptions).

  2. BobK's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: The Letter R

    Quote Originally Posted by Anne59 View Post
    ...I always pronounce the letter r when I am speaking but is that because I'm Scottish?
    Sort of - being Scottish isn't really the reason though; you could learn not to have a rhotic accent (if, for some reason, you wanted). It's because you have a Scottish accent - much prized in financial circles, because it 'sounds honest' (that's not my judgement, it's the reason why many English banks have call centres in Scotland). So I'd keep that accent if I were you!

    (I was teaching a Spanish student from Cutting Edge a few months ago - the bit about mysteries, with a picture of the Loch Ness Monster - and to go with it I played a clip from a BBC radio programme about the latest hunt for Nessie. There was part of the clip that I thought my student could ignore; it was an interview with a local, that even I found hard to follow. But in fact my student had no trouble with it at all, partly because of the rhotic accent, partly because of the clearer vowel sounds.)

    b

  3. BobK's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: The Letter R

    Quote Originally Posted by Jimmy_Q View Post
    ...
    Other rhotic accents are, for example, Irish English and most of American English accents (but, for example - New England, New York and Boston accents are exceptions).
    A clear (not to say painful ) sign of a bad pretend 'American' accent is the intrusion of an /r/ sound even where there's no r.

    b


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    #5

    Re: The Letter R

    Sort of - being Scottish isn't really the reason though; you could learn not to have a rhotic accent (if, for some reason, you wanted). It's because you have a Scottish accent - much prized in financial circles, because it 'sounds honest' (that's not my judgement, it's the reason why many English banks have call centres in Scotland). So I'd keep that accent if I were you!
    I thought it was because a soft Scottish accent is easy to understand on the phone. But not all Scottish accents. If you had Rab C Nesbitt on the line with his Glaswegian accent most people wouldn't understand a word.

    Interestingly I heard that they set up a lot of call centers in Leeds for similar reasons. Yorkshire men are famous for blunt speaking, and market research showed that people trusted what was said more if it was said with a Yorkshire accent. "Sure, we value all our customers", giggle.

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    #6

    Re: The Letter R

    Quote Originally Posted by Anne59 View Post
    Can anyone tell me if there is a rule regarding when and when not to pronounce the letter r. I'm wondering if when it follows a vowel it is silent but if it follows a consonant it is pronounced. Am I going in the right direction?

    firth f3:T
    fur f3:
    murder m3:d&*
    worse w3:s

    bran brGn
    furry f3:rI
    umbrella ^m'brel&

    I always pronounce the letter r when I am speaking but is that because I'm Scottish?
    Heah in Maine, nevah!

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    #7

    Re: The Letter R

    Quote Originally Posted by Anne59 View Post


    I always pronounce the letter r when I am speaking but is that because I'm Scottish?
    In Scotland, I thought you pronounced it rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

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    #8

    Re: The Letter R

    Quote Originally Posted by BobK View Post
    A clear (not to say painful ) sign of a bad pretend 'American' accent is the intrusion of an /r/ sound even where there's no r.

    b
    It's also the sign of a bad real American accent. (Writing to someone in Warshington might be a good idear....)

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    #9

    Re: The Letter R

    Quote Originally Posted by Charlie Bernstein View Post
    It's also the sign of a bad real American accent. (Writing to someone in Warshington might be a good idear....)
    Oh dear. I didn't realize the situation was that bad.

    b

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    #10

    Re: The Letter R

    Quote Originally Posted by BobK View Post
    Oh dear. I didn't realize the situation was that bad.

    b
    Yup.

    wash = warsh
    idea = idear
    oil = erl
    toilet = terlet
    piano = pianer
    potato = potater

    Grrr....

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