Dutch: "huig-r" or "tongpunt-r"

Discussion in 'Nederlands (Dutch)' started by sound shift, Jun 29, 2006.

  1. sound shift Senior Member

    Derby (central England)
    English - England
    There seems to be a lot of variation in the articulation of "r" in Dutch. To my ears, though, native speakers produce either a "huig-r" (similar to the Parisian "r"; made in the throat) or a "tongpunt-r" (a trilled "r" similar to the Spanish "r"). The former seems to be gaining ground at the expense of the latter. When I try to speak Dutch I prefer to use a "tongpunt-r", but I get the impression that it has lower social status than a "huig-r". Am I right? Should foreign learners of Dutch adopt the "huig-r"?
  2. ALOV Junior Member

    Belgium- du, fr, eng, sp

    In Dutch there's no real rule about pronounciation of 'r-sound'. In Ghent p.ex. the huig-r is very dominant, whereas 20 km outside the city most people speak with the 'tongpunt-r'. Sometimes one person even mixes both when speaking, even it's rare. In fact there are more than two variations: for instance when we imitate a Holland accent, we change r into a sort of american english r.
    According to an article I read about that question, there seems to be an evolution going on in the Dutch speaking part of Belgium, towards a more extended use for 'huig-r' (or French r). Now it seems to be 65% tongpunt-r , 30% huig-r and 5% mixed. The evolution is especially seen among younger generations and in cities, whereas the 'tongpunt-r' continues in rural areas. I don't have the impression there is a difference in status and as a foreigner you can choose what r you feel most comfortable with.

    Good luck with studying Dutch! ; )
  3. Outsider Senior Member

    Portuguese (Portugal)
  4. SimoneW Junior Member

    dutch, the netherlands
    Hi Sound shift,

    Welcome and great that you're learning Dutch :cool:

    But lets not make things as complicated as in the two articles mentioned. especially "this discussion" I'm Dutch and coudn't follow it anymore.

    Anyhow, you can use whatever you feel comfortable with (we do the same).
    There is no difference in status between one or the other.
    In the case of native speakers you will be able to hear from what region people are coming (more or less). But for pinpointing original regions you can use also for instance the pronounciation of the "G". If it is soft --> underneath the rivers and if it is hard --> above the rivers.
    Giving any sort of status to a pronounciation would mean that you would put a status to regions.

    But I do wonder why you got this feeling

    By the way: The fact that in Belgium they use a sort of American English r to imitate the Dutch doesn't surprise me since this is used a lot on tv. ;)

    Last edited by a moderator: May 17, 2008
  5. sound shift Senior Member

    Derby (central England)
    English - England
    Well, Simone, two things made me suspect that "huig-r" had higher social status. First, senior Dutch business people and diplomats all seem to use the "huig-r". Second, I have lived in NL and noticed that many "tongpunt-parents" have "huig-children". Why have the children broken with the speech habits of their parents? You say that the two r's are equal in status but if that is the case, why bother to change from one to the other? Isn't it the case that the "huig-r" came from France when France enjoyed great prestige, and was taken up by people who wanted to differentiate themselves socially?
  6. SimoneW Junior Member

    dutch, the netherlands
    OK I see.

    Let me first explain That I'm someone who uses both variants. I usually change from one to the other depending on the persons I talk with. It's fairly easy to do and it happens unconsciously whenever I'm in a group of people. I'm not sure but I guess this is the same for many people.

    Most of the businesses and diplomats are based in the area where the "huig" r is used. Also the "TV people" live and work in this area. That is most likely the reason you heard this r more.

    And you were probably also based in an area where the "huig" r was predominant...;)
  7. sound shift Senior Member

    Derby (central England)
    English - England
    Dat klopt: I was based in Eindhoven. In Noord-Brabant, Limburg (NL) and Limburg (B) I seldom heard a "tongpunt-r".
  8. optimistique Senior Member

    I come from one of these regions (Nederlands Limburg), and you don't just seldom, but never hear a 'tongpunt-r' there from the people from this province. For us it's just impossible to make it. The 'huig-r' is just our normal 'r'. Prestige has got nothing to do with it.
    Rotterdam on the other hand is a place where the 'tongpunt-r' is normal.

    A reason why people with 'tongpunt-r' switch to a 'huig-r' lies maybe in the fact that it is closer (because you hardly have to use your tongue for both) to the american r, de 'Gooise r', which is spread through television and children immitate it. This one has got prestige among young and succesfull people (especially in the middle and west), but to us in the south it sounds awful, so here it has the opposite status of prestige (but so has the 'tongpunt-r'. because it is typically 'Hollands' (a bad thing here;)).

    So, to conclude my story: you have regions that are exclusively (so not even dominant) tongpunt-r or huig-r. (and then you have gradations between them too, because a Limburgse huig-r is softer than a Brabantse)
    These regions are in the most outer provinces. Then the more you go to 'Randstad' in the west, the more variation you will find, because the regions close to it, are the most likely to be affected by change.
  9. MarX Banned

    Indonesian, Indonesia

    I also had the impression that huig-R is spreading, yet practically all of my relatives, including my younger cousins, use tongpunt-R.
    Every one of them, expect my grandpa's brother and his wife, was born in the Netherlands, and my (indirect) uncles all married Dutch women, all of which use tongpunt-R.
    What I did notice about my younger cousins is that they use American-R a lot. But never huig-R.

    Groetjes (which sounds more like a single "khooches" when you use huig-R. :p)
  10. Lopes

    Lopes Senior Member

    Dutch (Amsterdam)
    I myself use an r that is neither a huig-r nor a tong-r, but something between. Wouldn't know how to call it though..
  11. Joannes Senior Member

    Belgian Dutch
    I bet you use a Gooise /r/ and a huig-/r/.

    Let's see: do you pronounce the two <r>s in raar differently? If so, the second is a Gooise /r/, somewhat similar to an American /r/.

    Now I would like you to put you finger in your mouth, touching the hard palate (laat ons zeggen dat je het plafond van je mond moet aanraken, daar waar je de luster zou hangen, knal in het midden van de 'zaal' :) -- hoe zeg je dat trouwens al weer in het Standaardnederlands, luster?). Then try to pronounce raak. Does that work in a more or less decent way? Then that's a huig-/r/. If it doesn't work at all, it's a tongpunt-/r/.

    Finally, I would like you to take two celeries and put them in your ears, and crush two eggs onto your forehead... ah, never mind, you're not gonna believe this is to find out about you /r/s anyway -- and I mean the sounds, not some bodypart.

    Edit: I, myself, have a huig-/r/, by the way, because I grew up in Brussels. Although it's not very common in Antwerp, people didn't really notice, as I have a rolled huig-/r/. In Barcelona, however, people tend to believe I'm French...:rolleyes:
  12. MarX Banned

    Indonesian, Indonesia
    You reminded me that there's quite a number Indonesians who use this kind of R, huig-R, yet most of them roll it in such a way that one often doesn't notice that (s)he is not using tongpunt-R.
    Their occurence is quite random, like left-handers.
    I'd say that around 15% of Indonesians use huig-R.
    One could make a research out of this. :D

    But I don't wanna get too off topic here now.


  13. SonicXT New Member

    Dutch (Flemish)
    Could someone tell me what a huig-R and tongpunt-R are supposed to be ?
    I only heard of a "rollende R" en een "Franse R"/"R uit de keel"
  14. Andrealine New Member

    The Netherlands, Dutch
    I think that's what they mean, SonicXT. I'm originally from the area of Rotterdam and the French R is quite difficult for me to pronounce. One of the reasons I never liked to study French... I wouldn't say the 'r's have a different status in general, it just depends on the part of Holland (or Belgium probably) you're from. If you use a French 'r' (or if you use an "American" r excessively like some people in het Gooi for that matter) in Rotterdam, people might look at you as if you were speaking Chinese and regard you as a little weird. ;) And I think it works the other way around too.
  15. SonicXT New Member

    Dutch (Flemish)
    I don't see any status relation either, just some more regional diversion of speech we have so much of in our language and countries. I'm from Genk, Belgian Limburg, so over here the French r is the most common used pronunciation of that letter, though at times it would be sound more like a northern Dutch hard G. I guess it's something in between if that makes any sense.

    The official standard Dutch R would be the rolling R, but that's pretty much impossible for me to do, not just difficult. I guess I shouldn't go to Rotterdam then ... the Dutch usually got enough problems already understanding my relatively strong Genk accent (a mixture of Belgian Limburgic, Italian, standard Flemish and some other southern countries' accents brought in by a large mining community and now pretty much mainstream for everyone here, natives and newcomers)
  16. Lopes

    Lopes Senior Member

    Dutch (Amsterdam)
    Is that an insult? :D

    I'll try to do what you wrote another time, when I'm not in a public place..
  17. treedkind New Member

    English - U.S.
    Is there a resource on the web (or a person willing to help me) that could explain how exactly the "French" huig-/r/ is created? As a native English speaker this sound seems impossible to me. :(
  18. Hitchhiker Senior Member

    Washington DC USA
    Here are Google searches for French and Spanish R's. Choose whichever one you prefer or the one you can best pronounce or learn to pronounce and stick with that one.




    I learned the French R before I studied Dutch. I studied Dutch in Belgium where the Spanish R is more popular but the way my tongue is, I can't really pronounce the Spanish R. Choose one of these two R's and stick with the one you prefer. I think there are more difficult sounds in Dutch for English speakers than the R but stick with it and practice.
  19. treedkind New Member

    English - U.S.
    I suppose the reason my Google searches didn't return such results is because I was referring to it as a "Dutch R." Thanks!
  20. needrobots New Member

    Only the "tongpunt-r" is acceptable in Standard Dutch. Anything else should be perceived as deficient, no matter how many NOS pundits and newsreaders use it.

    PS: I'm about to finish my Bachelor's degree in Applied Linguistics(Dutch-French-Spanish).
  21. Frank06

    Frank06 Senior Member

    Nederlands / Dutch (Belgium)

    I checked a few books on Dutch pronunciation, and none of them claim that only tongpunt-r is to be considered Standard Dutch. They all mention both huig- and tongpunt-r.

    If I am not wrong, huig-r couldn't be used on VRT, but that's already many many moons ago.

    Could you please back up your claim.


  22. needrobots New Member

    Aye, I'm going by the standards described in this book: Klink Klaar : Uitspraak- en intonatiegids voor het Nederlands - Bernadette Timmermans . This is a VRT publication. In formal situations like certain forms of radio, the huig-r is still not accepted. The use of the huig-r is discouraged by our institute and seen as a flaw (minor flaw though) which will negatively affect one's score in the Dutch speaking test.
  23. Frank06

    Frank06 Senior Member

    Nederlands / Dutch (Belgium)

    "Over het algemeen geniet de tongpunt-r om technische redenen de voorkeur.[...] Toch is er geen bezwaar tegen de huig-r, tenminste als ze de klinkers in de buurt niet vervormt".

    Berndadette Timmermans, Klink klaar, p.33.

    Zij raadt wel een "schraperige huig-r" af.


  24. needrobots New Member

    Yes, indeed, but there is usually deformation. And a lot of people having the Ghent-r actually have the so-called schraperige huig-r. Same goes for people in the Netherlands. In many cases it's schraperig. Not so in Limburg though, where the clear huig-r is more prevalent. It's still very uncommon on the VRT as well and I can't think of anyone right now talking like that in either 'het Journaal' or on Radio 1. Let's not consider other stations and programs since they're usually just atrocious meltingpots of brabantian and Standard Dutch.;)

    I can only observe that higher language education in Flanders discourages the use of the huig-r.
  25. Frank06

    Frank06 Senior Member

    Nederlands / Dutch (Belgium)
    I read in the same book that huig-r is accepted. Idem dito in Uitspraak Nederlands by Beheydt.

    Then they wil have a lot of work to do:
    - http://www.kennislink.nl/publicaties/franse-r-rukt-op-in-vlaanderen
    - http://aivpc41.vub.ac.be/standpunten/uploads/franser.pdf
    - http://taalunieversum.org/nieuws/1361/de_franse_r_verovert_vlaanderen

    Last edited: Jul 7, 2009
  26. needrobots New Member

  27. Joannes Senior Member

    Belgian Dutch
    Congratulations. What you say is still nonsense though.

    First of all, Klink klaar is not really a VRT publication. However, writing a pronunciation guide obviously implies some prescription and as the VRT is still normative for Belgian Dutch, it is a good reference and using them as a reference without a doubt has been a convincing argument for the Flemish broadcasting company to sponsor this project. (There are now copies of this book all across the VRT Nieuwsdienst, so I guess it has been kind of like a symbiosis as well.) This book is not a pronunciation dictionary though; as the title puts it, it is about sounding clear when you're speaking to an audience, especially when a microphone is involved. There is nothing wrong with a natte /t/ in regular speech, and hardly when you're standing up in front of a class, but it can cause distortion when you're using a microphone. The same goes for some realizations of /s/ and /f/ that are perfectly fine in regular (standard) speech. The possible problem with a guttural /r/ can be that it's not salient enough if it's a fricative ('brouwen'), or -- if you do roll it clearly -- that it may 'pull' your vowels to the back, leaving you with a non standard pronunciation there. It's true that those may be reasons because of which you don't get a stemattest at the VRT. However, in regular AN speech there is no reason at all to avoid the huig-r! It is certainly not deficient, on the contrary, it is very common. It may be stigmatizing in certain regions, like West-Vlaanderen or Antwerp city, just as the tongpunt-r can be in other parts, but as far as Standard Dutch is concerned, both are acceptable.

    What is 'our' institute and what Dutch speaking test are you talking about?

    Atrocious. :rolleyes: Intolerant, ja! :mad: And by the way, do you really think that radio personalities on popular stations like Studio Brussel or MNM are not aware of what 'atrocious melting pot of language' they speak? They just realize they live in a society with different varieties for different contexts, with their audience facing an evolving supra-regional form of pan-Flemish tussentaal, mainly based on the Brabantic varieties. Apparently you fail to see, acknowledge or stand that.. Perhaps you can go convince Marlène de Wouters to change her /r/ and our institute will follow her. :rolleyes:
  28. Frank06

    Frank06 Senior Member

    Nederlands / Dutch (Belgium)
    Secondly, because Klink Klaar does tell us that huig-r is acceptable, black on white. I wonder what the reason was for the selective reading/understanding of the text.

    (Klink) Klaar als een klontje.


  29. CarlitosMS Senior Member

    Spanish - Spain
    Some examples of huig-r in VRT are Jan Becaus, Koen Fillet, Jan Hautekiet, Ilse Van Hoecke and Heidi Lenaerts.
  30. eno2

    eno2 Senior Member

    El Hierro de Canarias
    Eindelijk de reactie waar ik op zat te wachten. Ik geloof niet in de huig-R of de Franse R.
  31. marrish

    marrish Senior Member

    اُردو Urdu
    Wel wel wel, ik ken een paar (hoogopgeleide) mensen die in het Nederlands precies de huig-r hanteren maar omdat ze ook Spaans spreken kunnen zij wel een andere "r" uitspreken. Desalniettemin gaan zij er niet voor om dit in het Nederlands te gebruiken.

    Laat mensen spreken zoals zij dat hebben geleerd als kinderen qua klanken. Deze vraag is wel van toepassing op degenen die de Nederlandse taal als anderstaligen onder de knie willen krijgen.
  32. eno2

    eno2 Senior Member

    El Hierro de Canarias
    Ik heb de huig-of Franse R altijd raar gevonden en ook weinig gehoord hoewel ik beroepsmatig veel hoogopgeleiden frequenteerde (in Vlaanderen). Zelf gebruik ik zoveel mogelijk de Franse R als ik Frans spreek. Let wel dat in het Spaans de duidelijk gemarkeerde rollende RRRRR bestaat (Arriba! In dubbele R). In het Nederlands niet.

    Anderstaligen oefenen zich best in de Engelse R vind ik. Dat is hoe Nederlanders typisch spreken. En Nederland is leidinggevend in Nederlands. Maar dit is een persoonlijke opinie. Wie Nederlands leert in Vlaanderen, zal dat niet oppikken.
  33. YellowOnline

    YellowOnline Senior Member

    Berlin, Germany
    Dutch - Belgium
    Er is best veel variatie in Nederland en daarbij denk ook ik dat de tongpunt-r toch de voorkeur heeft in het Nederlands. Geen enkele reden dus om een Engelse r te promoten. Sowieso heeft dat geen zin voor andere dan Engelstalige leerlingen Nederlands: de Spaanse en Italiaanse r zijn ook tongpunt, de Duitse en Franse r zijn ook aanvaard. Waarom zouden die mensen in godsnaam een Engelse r moeten leren als ze Nederlands onder de knie willen krijgen?
  34. eno2

    eno2 Senior Member

    El Hierro de Canarias
    Iedere leraar doet maar wat hij wil hé. Er bestaat geen wet voor. Als dat een Vlaamse leraar is, zal het natuurlijk geen Engelse R worden. Over de variatie in Nederland: mij valt vooral hun Engels accent op.
  35. Hitchhiker Senior Member

    Washington DC USA
    When I was in Belgium as a student many years ago, I got the impression that the R at end of words was always voiced in Dutch. More recently, I have read that some Dutch speakers do not voice the R at the end of words. I don't think I have ever heard that in Dutch.
  36. AllegroModerato Senior Member

    Dutch (Netherlands)
    Engelse r? Dan alleen aan het einde of in het midden van woorden, sowieso nooit aan het begin. Bij Nederlandse sprekers (inclusief mijzelf) ligt het vaak tussen een stille r en een Engelse r in. Sommige sprekers variëren zelfs binnen hetzelfde woord. In Amsterdam zijn er mensen die van het woord "roker" de eerste r rollend uitspreken en de laatste stil/Engels. (vergeef mijn gebrekkige linguïstische terminologie)
  37. eno2

    eno2 Senior Member

    El Hierro de Canarias
    Akkoord met roker. Dat bedoel ik nu juist. Dat hoorde ik nooit in Vlaanderen. Ik ben ook een leek. Van die gespecialiseerde linguïstische terminologie begrijp ik niets.
  38. luitzen Senior Member

    Frisian, Dutch and Low Saxon
    I would strongly advise anyone learning Dutch as a second language to pronounce a rolling r for the same reason that I don't recommend any non-native speaker to learn to speak regional accents; unless your proficiency is very high, you will never get it completely right and you will end up looking weird when you mix things up. In the Netherlands the rolling r is the standard used by the great majority of the population. It is true that the rolling r is not the only correct pronounciation in Dutch, but the other r's are more limited to certain regions and/or social classes while the rolling r is common throughout the entire language area (includin Flandres).
    The huig-r (French/German r, pronounced in the back of your throat) is mainly used by older people of higher social class and it's use is often considered elitist or limited to parodies of elitism.
    De Gooise-r (English r, sometimes reduced to j or even silent) is commonly used in the Gooi area. The Gooi area is home to most of the Dutch radio and TV stations and is overrepresented in Dutch media because of this. Due to this overrepresentation of the Gooise r in Dutch media, the Gooise r is on the rise and could very well become the dominant r one day. However, as long as this is not the case, I will recommend non-native speakers to keep learning the rolling r. Furthermore, the Gooise r is also used commonly by young people of higher social class (korpsmeisjes) and it's use is often scorned because of this. If the Gooise r doesn't really catch on, it might end up with the same fate as the huig r.

    One difference between the Netherlands and Belgium is that in Belgium people are often much more concerned with what is perceived as correct and what should be while in the Netherlands a much more pragmatic attitude prevails. In Belgium people often complain about incorrect language use by their northern neighbours while in the Netherlands people might decide that what was wrong yesterday will be correct tomorrow (e.g. hun​ used as a subject).
  39. eno2

    eno2 Senior Member

    El Hierro de Canarias
    That's exactly the case.
    Hun used as a subject is anathema.
    Haha, are korpsmeisjes of social higher class??
    I do not believe much in the social class value of the pronunciation of the R. Some variant may sound a bit posh all right but I do not give a damn if this comes from higher class or from a personal disposition or preference of pronunciation.
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2014
  40. Hitchhiker Senior Member

    Washington DC USA
    When I was a student in Belgium there was a girl from Utrecht that said the Spanish R popular in Belgium sounded, "uneducated'" to her.
  41. luitzen Senior Member

    Frisian, Dutch and Low Saxon
    I'd say that people who study in universities are higher or will end up higher on the social ladder. It may not even be true, but it is often perceived this way.
  42. bibibiben

    bibibiben Senior Member

    Dutch - Netherlands
    Not true at all.

    Quote from The phonetics of English and Dutch, Collins & Mees, 1996:

    “In (B) AN /r/ is typically realised as an alveolar tap in all positions in the word, so that /r/ in rood, parel, and weer is pronounced similarly. However Netherlands Dutch is more complex:
    1. Pre-vocalic (initial and medial position), e.g. rood, rond, reden, merel, kerel. Typical realisations: either (1) uvular approximant or voiced fricative or (2) alveolar tap.
    2. Clusters. Following /p, t, k, x/, uvular [ʁ] may be devoiced with weak friction, giving [ʁ̥] or with some speakers (especially of affected varieties [χ]: prima [ˈpʁ̥imaː], trein [tʁ̥ɛin], kroeg [kʁ̥ux], groot [χʁ̥oːt]. Alveolar tap is not devoiced in such consonant clusters.
    3. Word-final. Trills are very uncommon except in emphatic utterances, though alveolar /r/ speakers may have tap [ɾ]. In present-day (NL) ABN and Randstad varieties of Dutch, probably the most frequent allophone is the pre-velar bunched approximant. The back of the tongue is bunched, and the root retracted, giving rise to a type of retroflex resonance. A similar sound is heard as a very common variety of American /r/, termed loosely 'retroflex'. Although it is not a true retroflex articulation (the tip is not curled back or even raised), for convenience we have used the symbol [ɻ].”

    I would strongly advise against indiscriminately using the alveolar trill (rendered as [r] in IPA and commonly called 'rolled r') in the Netherlands, as even native speakers who use this consonantal sound will replace it by either an alveolar tap [ɾ] or a pre-velar approximant* in other than pre-vocalic positions.

    More importantly, although [r]** is rather common in the area where luitzen seems to come from (Frisia?), it’s uncommon in many other parts of the Netherlands. Which is more, “uvular articulations appear to be gaining ground over alveolar [r]” in the Netherlands.

    Uvular articulations in the Netherlands are the following:

    Uvular trill: [ʀ]
    Uvular tap: [ʀ̆]
    Voiced uvular fricative: [ʁ]
    Weak voiceless uvular fricative: [ʁ̥] or [χ]
    Uvular approximant: [ʁ̞]

    So what would be a practical solution for students who wish to get their r’s right? When you live in a part of the Netherlands where alveolar articulations are common, you can stick to alveolar trill [r] or tap [ɾ] (pre-vocalic) and alveolar tap [ɾ] (clusters and word-final). There’s no need to explore all the other alveolar realizations. When you live in a part of the Netherlands where uvular articulations are common, it’s safer to stick to voiced uvular fricative [ʀ] (pre-vocalic, clusters and word-final). You could try your hand on the pre-velar bunched approximant [ɰ̘] in word-final position, but chances are that Anglophones will produce a sound that’s closer to an American r.

    If you’re outside the Netherlands and wonder what to do with your r’s, just listen on YouTube to the r’s produced by Dutch newsreaders (names can be found on http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lijst_van_nieuwslezers, under Huidige Nederlandse nieuwslezers – televisie), as they are supposed to speak with a neutral accent. It may come as a surprise to luitzen, but most newsreaders have uvular articulations ...

    *Rendered as [ɻ] by Collins & Mees, but [ɰ̘] would probably be a better choice, as the tip of the tongue is not curled back or raised.
    **And other alveolar articulations, such as the tap [ɾ], voiced fricative [ɹ̝], voiceless fricative [ɹ̥] and approximant [ɹ].
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2014

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