pronunciation of "r"

Discussion in 'Nederlands (Dutch)' started by българин, Dec 14, 2006.

  1. българин Senior Member

    Hello, I'm just interested. What is the proper way to pronounce the Dutch "r" ? Is it a nasal sound, like in French, or is it a hard "r" like in Spanish? I was listening to a Dutch conversation and I think I heard both. Is there a dialect form and formal form, or are both accepted?
  2. jippie Senior Member

    Mexico City
    Dutch living in Mexico
    It is a gutural sound, you make it mainly in the throat. And no, it is certainly not like the Spanish one, I'm living in Mexico for quite some years now and it took me a lot of practice to pronounce the Spanish 'r' (and it's still not perfect :(

    I wouldn't know about the dialect question. There are regional differences in pronounciation but I think all of them are accepted. But as I said, not 100% sure.
  3. българин Senior Member


    Thank you for your answers. So it is like the French gutural sound "r" then? I don't know why, but it I also hear the "r" pronounced a soft "r" like in American English....maybe I'm just concentrating too much on this and it's playing with my mind, lol. anymore suggestions are welcome
  4. PianoMan

    PianoMan Senior Member

    California, U.S.
    United States, English
    Dutch is a Germanic language, thus its "r" is pronounced closer to that of English and German, which is soft. French pronunciation is not really a good comparison, I've heard Dutch spoken often and I'd say the best comparison is that of German.
  5. Robinvn

    Robinvn Senior Member

    In Dublin fair city
    Dutch, Belgium
    In Holland, the pronunciation of the r sounds like something between the English and the German r. This may differ per region.
    In Flanders, on the other hand, the r is pronounced like in Spanish (single r, whilst the rr is never used). However, in the province of Limburg and in the area of Gent, the most common r sounds like the French one. The tendency is to pronounce the r like in French in the other regions as well, because it sounds more "chique". I read an article about it a couple of months ago in the Standaard. If you want, I can look it up for you.
  6. sound shift Senior Member

    Derby (central England)
    English - England
    There is a thread about this on WR. It is called "Dutch: huig-R or tongpunt-R".

    The member who started this thread (the one we are in now) is right: there are two types of R in Dutch - the "huig-R", which is made in the throat, and the "tongpunt-R", which is made by trilling the tongue against the upper front teeth. I spent a few years in the Netherlands and heard both of these. I was told that the huig-R is gaining ground at the expense of the tongpunt-R. I lived in the Province of Noord-Brabant, where the huig-R dominates, as it does in the neighbouring Province of Limburg.

    I still believe that the huig-R was introduced to the Netherlands a few centuries ago by the upper classes who wanted to imitate the French "R", and spread from them to other sectors of society. The South of the Netherlands has gone over to the huig-R more than the North has, but it is not just a regional matter: Dutch people with "bekakt" (posh) speech always use the huig-R, no matter which part of the country they are from.
  7. jippie Senior Member

    Mexico City
    Dutch living in Mexico
    Very interesting... I didn't even know we had a tongpunt-R, but I'm from Limburg so that maight explain why...
    Robinvn: I would like to read the article in the Standard, could you send the link?
  8. Salmantina

    Salmantina Senior Member

    Maastricht, the Netherlands & Veldwezelt, Belgium
    Het Brabantsche land, the Netherlands

    This is interesting. I´ve been studying Spanish since two years now, but I´m still having problems with the pronunciation of the ´r´. I´m in Spain right now and allthough I´ve learned a great deal, I still can´t pronounce the ´r´:( . Now I understand a little better why. I´m from the South (North Brabant) and it´s got something to do with our pronunciation. Am I right?

  9. jippie Senior Member

    Mexico City
    Dutch living in Mexico

    Do you know the trick with the 'kdentenbdood'? That helps you to improve your pronounciation of the r.
  10. Robinvn

    Robinvn Senior Member

    In Dublin fair city
    Dutch, Belgium
  11. българин Senior Member


    Ok, mate, you just confused me... I thought that the French and German "r" is the same sound (a guteral sound produced in the back of the throat, right)? But you seem to distinguish the two....what is the difference?? Thanks for the article, and the answers.

    sound shift explained it quite clear I suppose...about the north and south pronunciation. However, I am hearing more and more another type of "r", which sounds to me like the soft (almost non-present) "r" as in English (more prominent in American English). Is this also a regional difference, or are the speakers speaking too fast for me to recognize the huig-R and it seems to me that it's pronounced soft...

    ps- if you guys want, here is the full version (or what seems to be a longer version at least) of the article
  12. Robinvn

    Robinvn Senior Member

    In Dublin fair city
    Dutch, Belgium
    I'm not an expert in phonetics (far from that!!), but I'll try to help you out, mate.
    I think there is a difference in the pronunciation, yes.

    About the German r: This site gives great examples. Click on
    German, stimmhaftigkeit, stimmhaft /R/ (upside down).
    About the French r: I couldn't find a clear demonstration, but to me the French r sounds less 'deep'. There seems to be something 'moving', too. Not the tongue, though. I don't have a clue how to say how it works, let's wait for the experts.
  13. Qcumber Senior Member

    UK English
    Many Dutch people pronounce their /r/ exactly as in French. Others roll it.
    /r/ shouldn't be confused with /X/ as in goed [Xut] "good".
  14. optimistique Senior Member

    And none of you has mentionned the upcoming of the approximant 'r', which sounds almost like an American 'r', when it comes after a vowel. It's an extremely ugly pronunciation, but it is used by the people on television and a lot by people from the west and mid-west, especially by the young, higher-educated people.

    Originally people from the West had a rolling, Spanish or Italian /r/ (of course a lot of them still have), and the people from the North too. The French 'r', which is uvular is indeed the /r/ used in the South. In the East people also have almost no /r/ (which we call the German /r/). It's more like a schwa, the most neutral vowel (as in Dutch 'de').

    The French /r/ is pronounced (to my ears) a bit like the 'hard g', the /X/, which is like the 'j' in Spanish: they're both uvular.
  15. PianoMan

    PianoMan Senior Member

    California, U.S.
    United States, English
    They are somewhat similar, its just when I've heard speakers of both pronounce "r", it sounds quite different, the French one sounds very throaty, yet the German is a bit closer to English, somewhat guttural. For me, when I heard Dutch being spoken, the first thing that came to my head was a more German-sounding pronunciation. Of course, I'm no expert on the Netherlands, so apparently its closer to French. But being someone who's grown up around German being spoken, there is a distinct difference between German and French.
  16. Qcumber Senior Member

    UK English
    I can't hear much difference between the standard pronunciations of French /r/, Dutch /r/ and German /r/. They all sound about the same to me, and contrast with English /r/ and Spanish or Italian /r/. The only differences I can perceive are due to age, sex, loudness of voice, etc.
  17. българин Senior Member

    Optimistique you have opened a closed window in my world of pronounciation! So it wasn't just me noticing that. It drove me crazy because as you said, after a vowel it sounded like a soft "r" which did not sound like the French or German or Italian "r" sound. So the sound is produced by curving your tongue and touching your upper part of your mouth, but this is done in the back of your mouth.

    now, the question is whether this is a dialect or a standard form of speaking in the region? Should a lerner of Dutch use this form of "r" pronunciation before vowels, or should it be just a guteral or trilled sound?
  18. optimistique Senior Member

    I think it is dependent on where you will be staying in the Netherlands, which 'r' you choose. There's no convention, the choice is free. I suggest you the uvular-r, since it's the least associated with any region, so it's the safest. Also, it's easier than the Spanish-r. The approximant-r is the easiest, but is to be avoided (in my opinion).
  19. Outsider Senior Member

    Portuguese (Portugal)
    There is actually more than one way of pronouncing the "R" in both languages. Wikipedia has an enlightening article (if lacking in references).
  20. българин Senior Member

    May I ask why is it to be avoided? I'm just curious, but you don't have to give an answer if you feel it's controversial. Btw, you are talking about the "English style" R, when you say approximate R, correct? I hear it quite often used, especially before a vowel....but as you said, it's a personal choice. Actually, for me, the trilled is easier to do than the guteral R.
  21. optimistique Senior Member

    OK, of course if you already know the trilled 'r' you can take benefit out of it. :)
    Of course it is completely subjective, but the (indeed!) English-style 'r' is by many considered ugly. That's the only concern, that you might pronounce your Dutch unnecessarily less beautiful that way (which is of course my personal view:) ).
  22. John-Paul Senior Member

    Voorhees, NJ USA
    The Netherlands
    It also depends on the position of the "r". An r upfront as in "raam" (window) is less guttoral than "beter" (better). The r in vierkant (square) is rather quiet while the r in Rotterdam is first Rioja and then Bordeaux. The r Amsterdam will be prounounced differently all over the country, but in their own dialect they say Amste_dam. Also, in many areas in the Brabant and Limburg it seems they curl the sides of their tongue a bit to say words like Goorle, Geertruidenberg and Breda.
  23. Matthewflanders New Member

    Dutch (Flemish), Belgium
    In Flanders, both the hard Spanish R and the French R are used. Some regions prefer the rolling one, others the French one.
    In my region, West-Flanders, people consider it a speaking disorder to use the French R and little kids who do this, will get lessons to learn the rolling R.
    But in Ghent for instance the French R is part of the local dialect.

    Still, most people in Flanders prefer the rolling R.
  24. MarX Banned

    Indonesian, Indonesia
    I agree with a couple of forists here who said that German R and French R are different. German R is generally "softer" and sometimes you barely even hear it, whereas French R is generally "throatier".
    Both variations, in addition to Spanish R and American R, exist in Dutch. For example Brabantse R is closer to French R than Limburgse R which is closer to German R.
    This should make things easier for learners of Dutch because they can choose whatever R they want. :)

  25. papeheimers Junior Member

    The Netherlands/Brussels
    English & Dutch
    Just registered so thought I'd join the discussions, starting here. :)

    First of all, different people will also always stand for many different opinions, but being raised bilingual with both Dutch and English I've always found that there is a big difference between the English and Dutch "R" sound.

    Originally the Dutch R is a guttural R, which is formed back in the throath, so it does resemble the French and German R. That is why pronouncing the French or German R doesn't form as big as a problem for Dutch speakers (or German speakers, I suppose) as it does for English speakers. (think of the French word "merci" that's mostly the Dutch R too and how it sometimes with English speakers sort of becomes "mercy" :))

    The German R tends to be even a bit more guttural and noticable, maybe also because of wordformation. The French R tends to be similar in most words or at least the differences that arise are neglectable and mostly the result of personal differences in tone of voice, articulation etc. In some words though, the French R seems to be pronounced a bit higher up towards the nose (like when you have a cold) (like in the word "très").

    The thing is that nowadays many Dutch people don't use the deep R anymore. At first this was mostly the effect of the region and background one grew up in. (with posh heritage standing for a softer and more rounded R, not a guttural one).

    But nowadays regional effects aren't that apparent anymore. Of course there will always be differences arising from tone of voice, loudness, specific words and preference. But most Dutch people don't really fuss about how you make your R's, you can either choose to make them guttural or softer and more rounded sort of like in English.

    But beware: Don't overdo it, 'cause overall the English R is pronounced a lot more rounded than the Dutch variation. So you can make your R's a little fuller but not as thick sounding as in the American accent for example. Then it will be perceived as a foreign accent or a mispronunciation.

    Also, the type or R sound you use must depend on the position of the R in the word. For instance, in the word "regen" of "recht" you can't really use a rounded R and more generally speaking this goes for most words in which the R takes the first position. Here it's sound is very close to the guttreal G sound and to some extent to the German R. In words where it is placed behind a vowel, like in "donderdag" or at the end of a word as in "leider" of "kar" or "maar(t)" then you can choose if you want to make it gutteral or rounded. With the rounded version resembling the English R. In words where the R is placed right behind another consonant its pronunciation is somewhat in between. Like in "gratis" or "groen" or "broei" Here it depends on the preceding letter and to a lesser degree to the preference of the speaker, how gutteral the R sound will start of but it always rises up out of the throath at the end of the sound and thus the latter and the first category, are the wordforms where the Dutch R tends to be similar to the French (and for the first category also the German) R in a lot of words.

    When I was in secundairy school, my classmates always used to find it hilarious to get me to make a looping Dutch R sound which vibrates in the throath (like in TRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR) 'cause (maybe as a result of being raised speaking two different languages or maybe just because of a personal defect :p) I simply couldn't do it. I'm getting better at it now, though. :)
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2011
  26. HKK

    HKK Senior Member

    3010 Leuven, Be.
    Welkom op het forum, papeheimers. Ik heb een aanmerking, de original, genuine Nederlandse R is de tongpunt-R die je kunt horen in het Spaans of Italiaans. Daarmee wil ik natuurlijk niet zeggen dat de andere R's fout zijn: zelf gebruik ik de gutturale versie, en als ik de "rollende" tongpunt-R gebruik klinkt het te nadrrrukkelijk en heel gemaakt.
  27. Kayla321

    Kayla321 Senior Member

    Dutch (NL)
    Hoe bepaal je wat de "original, genuine Dutch R" is?
  28. HKK

    HKK Senior Member

    3010 Leuven, Be.
    "Genuine" was meer als grapje bedoeld. Maar het is wel de oudste uitspraak van de R, de gutturale en "Gooise" uitspraakwijzes zijn van latere datum.
  29. Kayla321

    Kayla321 Senior Member

    Dutch (NL)
    Dat is eigenlijk geen antwoord op mijn vraag. *trekt één wenkbrauw op* Referenties?
  30. Joannes Senior Member

    Belgian Dutch
    Wat rondklikken op het web zal je snel leren dat de tongpunt-r ouder is in het Nederlands, en zelfs in Europa. Hoewel we de huig-r vaak ook de Franse r noemen had het Frans in vroegere tijden ook een tongpunt-r. Een bekende theorie is dat de huig-r zich het eerst heeft gevestigd in het Parijse dialect en dat die, omwille van de prestige van het dialect, zich zo verspreid heeft doorheen Europa. (Waarschijnlijk een mythe zegt zelfs dat de huig-r een spraakgebrek was van Louis XIV en andere mensen hem daarom begonnen over te nemen.) Begin de twintigste eeuw was het niet standaard om met een huig-r te spreken in Nederland. Terwijl dat tegen het einde van de 20e eeuw in Nederland al helemaal anders was, sprak toch nog 80% van Vlaamse radiomakers met een tongpunt-r.

    Waarschijnlijk zijn er wel andere processen aan de gang dan enkel sociolinguïstische (prestige): een huig-r is tov een tongpunt-r op een aantal vlakken te zien als een verzwakking (lenitie). Feit is echter wel dat de verspreiding voornamelijk via stedelijke centra is gebeurd. In Vlaanderen is dit nog zo aan de gang en kun je vaststellen dat mensen met een huig-r doorgaans een hogere opleidingsgraad hebben dan mensen met een tongpunt-r in dezelfde regio.
  31. papeheimers Junior Member

    The Netherlands/Brussels
    English & Dutch

    Hartelijk dank voor het welkomstwoord :)

    Volgens mij klopt dat inderdaad. De meest vermoedelijke originele R is waarschijnlijk de tongpunt R. Of dit echter voor heel Nederland of enkel voor bepaalde gebieden gold is als ik zo verschillende bronnen op het i-net aanboor (niet wiki), niet zeker, noch het feit of het dus wel de originele R was, maar dit is wel waar men op het moment denk ik het meeste vanuit gaat.

    Op zich kan de tongpunt R alleen ook wel enigzins gutteral gevoeld worden, aangezien hij gevormd wordt door het puntje van de tong te laten trillen, maar negen van de tien keer zal de huig ook in meer of mindere maten meetrillen om het scherpe geluid te produceren. Daarmee is het dus bijna nooit een R enkel geproduceerd door de tongpunt te laten trillen.

    Wat betreft het soort R en iemands SES (Sociaal Economische Status) waar Joannes het over had. Ik weet niet hoe het in België heden ten dage is, maar in Nederland is het bij mijn weten anno nu niet zo dat iemands SES nog een duidelijke correlatie vertoond met het soort R dat iemand gebruikt. Ook mensen uit Groningen, Friesland en de Achterhoek genieten heel diverse opleidingsniveaus en komen uit verscheidene klassen, toch hebben zij over het algemeen allen een veel sterker rollende R dan bijvoorbeeld mensen uit Utrecht of Gelderland (dialecten niet meegerekend uiteraard). Het lijkt in Nederland in ieder geval, vind ik, dan ook eerder dat hoewel zeker in heel veel mindere mate als vroeger, er dan eerder nog wel een klein verband is met regio, maar zeker niet meer een direct verband met SES. Het gaat vooral bij de jongere generaties tegenwoordig, waar de woorden het toelaten, veel meer om je eigen voorkeur en wat je om je heen hoort (in je regio en bv. op school, thuis, bij vrienden, familie etc...)

    Maar hoe weet je dat dit in Vlaanderen wel het geval is dan? Zijn daar betrouwbare en valide onderzoeken naar verricht?
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2011
  32. Joannes Senior Member

    Belgian Dutch
    Taalkundig prestige speelt vaak heel onderhuids en hoeft niet altijd te maken hebben met SES. In Nederland is het wellicht niet (meer) waar voor de huig-r maar dat de Gooise r een prestigekenmerk zou zijn, is iets dat al vaak is geopperd in de literatuur. Zie o.a. hier, ook p. 36 van deze tekst van Jan Stroop die wel nogal gekleurd is -- Stroop heeft het over de 'bekakte r'.

    Regio speelt zeker een rol, dat is duidelijk. Dat is in Vlaanderen overigens ook zo. Hoewel zoals je zegt Nederlandstaligen in Friesland doorgaans met een tongpunt-r spreken (en naar een logopedist worden gestuurd als ze die niet kunnen maken) toont een relatief recente studie van de Fryske Akademy aan dat de Gooise r zelfs in Friesland als een prestigekenmerk moet gezien worden. Dit is een interessante samenvatting.

    Dat voor die studie meisjes werden gebruikt als proefpersonen is overigens geen toeval. In de sociolinguïstiek is het algemeen geweten en aangetoond dat (jonge) vrouwen gevoeliger zijn aan prestigevarianten dan mannen. Er wordt hier nogal naar referenties gevraagd tegenwoordig :D dus ik geef er meteen een quote bij van de goeroe Labov in zijn Sociolinguistic patterns ;):
    Dat is precies waar taalkundig prestige om draait. Wat je hoort in je omgeving, bij ingroepen en uitgroepen, het prestige dat je daaraan toekent en of je ermee geassocieerd wil worden. En het meeste van dit alles veeleer onbewust..

    Dat is misschien zelfs de enige manier om het überhaupt vast te stellen. Zoals gezegd speelt dit heel onderhuids. Als iemand Frans begint te praten omdat ie dat chiquer vindt, dan merk je dat meteen op. Als iemand met een huig-r begint te spreken omdat hij/zij die associeert met een sociale groep die volgens hem/haar meer aanzien heeft of omdat het de zijne/hare is, dan is dat moeilijk vast te stellen. Belangrijk is natuurlijk ook dat wat prestigieus is in één groep, als 'bekakt' kan worden gezien in een andere. Daarom net zijn de resultaten van die studie in Friesland zo opvallend.

    Evie Tops heeft in haar doctoraatsonderzoek (2006) aangetoond dat de huig-r aan een opmars bezig was in Vlaanderen, volgens een stedelijke hiërarchie, met tot op zekere hoogte bewezen invloed van het Frans. Sociale klasse blijkt een rol te spelen (maar in sommige regio's meer dan andere). Hier zijn het persbericht en het boek van 2009.
  33. papeheimers Junior Member

    The Netherlands/Brussels
    English & Dutch
  34. Joannes Senior Member

    Belgian Dutch
    Vanzelfsprekend.. Jij zei dat er geen direct verband is in Nederland (naar ik vermoed zonder het verrichten van onderzoek en herhalingen van dat onderzoek?), ik wijs er gewoon op dat er mensen zijn die er onderzoek naar hebben verricht en er anders over denken..

    In zoverre men infralinguale verschillen binnen het kleine Nederlandse taalgebied als "exotisch" kan beschouwen, heb ik op basis van de sociolinguïstische studies waarmee ik in contact ben gekomen persoonlijk niet de indruk dat die generalisatie opgaat in de taalkunde. Misschien wel onderling tussen talen, maar niet voor dialecten of varianten die niet je eigen zijn..

    Dat moet je mij eens uitleggen. Misschien heb je een te nauwe definitie van "prestige" voor ogen.

    Jawel, wel in de taalkunde. Volgens mij hanteer je inderdaad een te nauwe definitie. Taalkundig prestige wordt breed opgevat; je hebt positief en negatief prestige. En in bepaalde contexten wil je net die tweede omdat de eerste dan aanzien wordt als 'bekakt'. Misschien een misverstand. Je zal overigens zien dat de definitie van taalkundig prestige compatibel is met jouw beknopte inleiding tot de sociologie.

    Inderdaad: jongens, meisjes, oma's en opa's, inwijkelingen en rasechte Friesen, vanalles en nog wat, ze moesten er allemaal in.;) Maar we kunnen het ondertussen maar doen met de onderzoeken die er zijn, natuurlijk. Voor de rest heb je overschot van gelijk. Dat is het voordeel van het instampen van een open deur. :p

    Dat is waar, interferentie speelt zeker een rol. Maar in de sociolinguïstiek moet je vaak ook een verschil maken tussen de geïntendeerde variant en wat je effectief kan waarnemen. In contexten waarvan ze vinden dat die dat vereisen, zullen Belgen Standaardnederlands proberen te spreken, of het eindresultaat dat ook echt is, hangt van de achtergrond, taalvaardigheid etc. van de spreker af. Zo ook kan je heel positieve percepties hebben over prestigieuze varianten of talige kenmerken, zonder dat je ze zelf kan of gebruikt (zie de Friese meisjes). Als je in een Vlaamse omgeving was opgegroeid, had je wel nog moeite gestoken in het ontwikkelen van een andere r dan de Gooise, vermoed ik.

    Natuurlijk, en dus moet dat onderzocht worden hé. Maar je beweert toch niet dat half ons taalgebied aan FAS leidt..

    Voor wie het ondertussen vergeten was -- en ik reken mezelf daartoe :D: deze discussie begon nadat ik bevestigde dat het algemeen wordt aangenomen dat de tongpunt-r de originele Nederlandse /r/ is. Ik wees op het verband dat al vaak gemaakt is tussen de huig-r en prestige in de Europese taalkunde en dat daar in de huidige ontwikkelingen in Vlaanderen ook iets van lijkt te zijn. Op papeheimers' vraag heb ik naar een studie verwezen die dat heeft onderzocht en heb ik enkele referenties gegeven die aantonen dat gelijkaardige fenomenen in Nederland niet zomaar mogen uitgesloten worden. Ik verwees enkel naar bronnen die direct toegankelijk waren op het internet. Wie oprecht geïnteresseerd is, zal ongetwijfeld veel meer kunnen vinden in een universiteitsbibliotheek om een extensief literatuuronderzoek te verrichten, alsook kwalitatieve beoordelingen en reproducties van bestaande onderzoeken. Laat het vooral niet na hier achteraf je conclusies te posten.;)
  35. Kayla321

    Kayla321 Senior Member

    Dutch (NL)
    :eek: Zo, zeg! Dat zijn nogal wat referenties. Dat was niet helemaal wat ik in gedachten had, maar interessant is het wel! :cool:
  36. Asa Branca New Member

    A few comments here:

    1. There appear to be at least 3 varieties of Dutch R in use: The "guttural" R (huig-R aka French/German R, technically termed a "uvular fricative"); the "trilled" R (tungpont-R aka Spanish R, technically termed an alveolar tap/flap) and the "American" R (technically termed an alveolar approximant). I recently listened to a dutch TV report in which the "American" R is quite noticeable -- it reminds me very much of how Americans with atrocious accents speak Spanish. Note that I'm American, and the R here sounds very much like my own -- and the American R is *not* quite the same as the British R, which suggests that this variety of Dutch R really is more like the American than British variety. (Specifically, the American R -- sometimes termed a "bunched R" -- is heavily velarized and with the tongue all bunched up in the top of the mouth, sometimes not even alveolar at all as the tongue body is pulled back enough that the tip touches the hard palate rather than the alveolar ridge. The British R is more a typical alveolar approximant, without the bunching or heavy velarization.)

    2. In many languages, the R sounds different depending on where it occurs in a word. For example, the Spanish words "cuatro" ("four") and "cuarto" ("fourth") both use the same alveolar tap, whereas in the equivalent Brazilian Portuguese words "quatro" and "quarto", only the former uses the tap, whereas the latter uses a radically different sound, an *unvoiced* velar fricative similar to the 'ch' in the German pronunciation of "Bach". There are lots of variations. For example, dialects in Northeast Brazil use the tap for a non-initial r before a vowel; the unvoiced fricative for an r before a consonant or at the beginning of a word, or an r written double between vowels; and drop the r entirely at the end of a word. The southernmost states of Brazil use a voiced tap instead of an unvoiced fricative before a consonant but preserve the fricative elsewhere; similarly, the rural "Caipira" accents use an American-style R before a consonant. Even the mainstream dialects are not all homogenous -- e.g. the unvoiced fricative in the Northeast has very little friction, while the same sound in Belo Horizonte has no friction (i.e. much like American H) and the same sound in Rio has strong friction as in German "Bach". Rio also pronounces final R's the same way rather than dropping them.

    The various Dutch dialects probably have similar complexities, pronouncing R differently in different positions as well as differently across dialects.

    3. People seem confused about French vs. German R -- are they the same or different? The problem here is again one of position. French and German R are basically the same (voiced uvular fricative) before a vowel. When before a consonant or at the end of a word, however, the French use the same fricative sound as elsewhere while most Germans have no consonant at all, just a short schwa that glides off of the previous vowel. This is actually similar to the difference between American and British English. American English uses a clearly audible R everywhere that an 'r' is written, whereas British "R-dropping" accents either use a schwa or just drop the R entirely in the same positions where German would use a schwa (i.e. not before a vowel).
  37. HKK

    HKK Senior Member

    3010 Leuven, Be.
    Indeed. The Belgian Dutch dialects, as far as I know, don't depend on the position in the utterance for the pronunciation of the R. Rather, they "choose" either the uvular fricative or the alveolar tap and stick with it. In the Dutch "Gooise" pronunciation, position is imporant. The R is pronounced like in Flanders (UF/AT) before a vowel and with the "American" alveolar approximant before a consonant or at the the end of a word.

    There might be exceptions that I'm not aware of but these rules count for the great majority of speakers.

    Never thought of it that way! I do notice that my Rs can be quite soft when followed by a consonant.

    Slightly off topic, sometimes I think if the Dutch speaking community was any smaller, it would have succumbed to the pressure of the competitive languages all around us. Whatever the fashionable prestige language at a certain time, you can be sure that Dutch will absorb tons from it. Joannes posted a much more scientifically acceptable story above, but I don't think it necessarily contradicts this one.
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2012
  38. Hitchhiker Senior Member

    Washington DC USA
    I stayed in Belgium for four years. One year in Antwerp and three years in Ghent. In Antwerp the R is like the Spanish R. In Ghent I never knew when I was hearing the local dialect as it is a university city and most of the students were from somewhere else. I did notice in Ghent (and maybe also Antwerp) that the R at the end of words was pronounced and was not like the finial R in German or English. In Antwerp a girl from Utrecht told me she thought the rolled R in Antwerp sounded "uneducated" to her and that the French R was used in Utrecht. I do remember hearing about people in Belgium (Antwerp) that would send their children to speech therapy if they couldn't roll their R's.
  39. Istriano

    Istriano Senior Member

    On Flemish TV, all newscasters seem to use the alveolar single tap/flap r. :)
    While the French R is not forbidden, it sounds regional (just like in Norwegian).
    You are right with people sending children to speech therapy if they can't tap the R's.
    In both Antwerp and Oslo people do the same thing. :D
    Rolling Rs give warmth to otherwise cold Germanic languages, that's why people like the sound of Bavarian & Swiss German, Eastern-Central&Northern Norwegian, central Swedish and (general) Flemish. ;)
    To my ears, American(ized) R's in both Dutch and Brazilian Portuguese sound rural and uneducated. On the other hand they sound cute in Norwegian (in words like sola ''the Sun'') because in Norwegian they're not as strong. French R's are not preferred in most of Flanders, because the alveolar r (once single tap/flap) contrasts better with the Flemish H's [h] and G's ([x] or [ɣ].)
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2012
  40. berndf Moderator

    German (Germany)
    This is obviously a very subjective interpretation. Many people (including myself) consider the "rolled r" as particularly "hard" and not at all "warm".
  41. gecersiznick

    gecersiznick New Member

    Hi there! I have just begun learning Dutch, and this is one of the obstacles that just stayed in my way. I am very curious about the pronunciation of the "r" sound in Dutch as well. As I was wandering on youtube, I found this informative video prepared by a Dutch teenager. The video demonstrates just how. I think It will help you figure out the problem.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 5, 2012

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