All dialects/MSA: Pronunciation of the R (rolling the R)

Discussion in 'العربية (Arabic)' started by Interprete, Jun 22, 2010.

  1. Interprete Senior Member

    French, France

    I am learning fos7a, and I came across a radio presenter who pronounces her Rs just like the English R, instead of a Spanish-like rolled R that I got used to in Arabic.
    I thought it was just her and assumed she was of English-speaking background, but on TV I just heard an Arab TV anchor on MBC speaking with the exact same pronunciation (English Rs).
    Could anyone tell me if this is an accent from a specific region? Or just a 'style'?

  2. Imad Net

    Imad Net Member

    Arabic - Algeria
    Il y a des gens dans les pays arabes qui ne peuvent pas prononcer le "R" correctement, comme ma sœur :D
    Donc, c'est faut de prononcer le R comme les Anglais dans l'Arabe..
  3. Interprete Senior Member

    French, France
    Thanks for your reply. But I find it a bit surprising, because I'm talking about TV presenters... that's why I was assuming its an accent from a specific region, rather than some kind of speech impediment!
  4. Imad Net

    Imad Net Member

    Arabic - Algeria
    Il y a beaucoup d'arabes qui ont cette difficulté, surtout au moyen orient, je ne sais pas pourquoi, mais peut être parce qu'ils étudient la langue anglaise précosement, même des personnes très connues comme "Hassen nasr Allah" le leader de "Hizbou Allah"...
  5. Noon9

    Noon9 Member

    Abu Dhabi
    Well, it just depends on the word. Sometimes there's a heavy emphasis on the roll and sometimes it's just normal.

    And btw i think you mean the American accent not the English because i've heard like 100 different English accents and many of them roll the r.
  6. Interprete Senior Member

    French, France
    Thank you Imad! I will try to look for this guy on youtube and hear if it's what I'm talking about.

    Noon, you're right, I should have specified the London accent maybe, I didn't say American because the Rs don't sound as 'retroflex' as American Rs.
    However what I'm talking about does concerns ALL Rs, not just a few ones in a few words, which is why I'm so curious about that.

    I actually remember meeting an Egyptian guy from Cairo who spoke like that (all his Rs were London/US Rs while he spoke in 3ammeyya, and I asked another friend who was with me if this guy just wanted to sound smart by sounding more American, and my friend said he didn't even notice :S).
  7. elroy

    elroy Motley mod

    Chicago, IL
    US English/Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    I have not come across this phenomenon too often. I think it has to do with the individual person and not with their dialect or place of origin. In my experience, the vast majority of Arabs pronounce their r's as would be expected.
  8. Interprete Senior Member

    French, France
    Thank you all for your replies.
    I actually just made an Egyptian friend listen to a file that I have (the one with the radio presenter), and he said it's a speech impediment called ألدغ
    I even found that about imams suffering from this:

    That clears things up, you were right Imad! Thanks again.
  9. Imad Net

    Imad Net Member

    Arabic - Algeria
    Je vous en prie, et je suis désolé pour la langue française, parce que je parle que un peu d'anglais
    Selon ta source, le mot ألدغ، يلدغ، لدغًا se dit pour qui prononce le R avec un accent anglais..
    Et on dit ألثغ، يلثغ، لثغًا pour qui changent les lettres totalement, par exemple ce sont qui prononce le R arabe comme le R des Français غ ou bien le S comme le Th ث
  10. squeezed90

    squeezed90 Senior Member

    Arabic - Palestine, English - Canada
    Sometimes people do it to sound cute. For example, the singers Darine Hadchiti and Wael Kffoury.
  11. Serafín33

    Serafín33 Senior Member

    Whoa, this thread reminds of quite a few things. I've really heard ر pronounced as an English r a lot of times before. So much that it makes me think that maybe some dialects have it as an "allophone" (a sound for the ر that appears only next to certain sounds) or something similar... So far I haven't been able to find any mention of the phenomenon, there's quiet an interesting work yet to be made here.

    For example, follow this link:
    and listen how the female native who recorded the audio pronounces أرداف,‎ وتر الركبة and مرفق.

    In أرداف, the ر sounds as Arabic as you can get it (that is, a trill). But the ر in الركبة sounds clearly as an English r!

    And things get worse with مرفق, since at least as far as my Spanish-trained ear goes, I'm hearing a ل for what should be the ر. :/
    Also this. I remember watching the video clip for the song توصى فيي by يارا (just look it up at Youtube), where the (err... not so decent) trio of the first 35 seconds pronounce a couple ر's as an English r, being specially clear at 0:25.
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2010
  12. Interprete Senior Member

    French, France
    Hi Neqitan!

    Funny, I followed your link and none of the words you mentioned sounded strange to me. Only the R in 'merfaq' sounded slightly 'different', but still normal to me :S

    However in the song توصى فيي, this is more like the sound I was referring to. Although in songs I think it is quite common to 'retroflex' Rs at the end of words - at least I've heard it a lot, and the very same singers don't do that when they speak.

    I wish I could upload this mp3 file that I made my Egyptian friend listen to - sadly it's too big.
  13. Noon9

    Noon9 Member

    Abu Dhabi
    LOL sSingers usually do it on purpose they think they sound like a baby coz because usually babies pronounce the r like that :p

    If you think Yara's (r) is so bad you should watch يقولون by رويدا and tell me what you think of hers.:D
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 23, 2010
  14. ALOOO Member

    Saudi Arabia
    Saudi Arabia-Arabic
    we called it in Arabic:
    As: خرج من لثغته خلاف بغيته

  15. Outlandish

    Outlandish Senior Member

    I do not know much about other dialects but this kind of speech impediment is very common in Egypt. I think I never heard other Arabs speaking with all these various types of impediments which exist in Egypt a lot. I did not notice the Lebanese singers doing it, but if an Egyptian does it on purpose, people will definitely consider him silly. But it was common in Egypt in the early 20th century among the aristocrat to pronounce the r as a French r (err). Now it is looked upon as silly too.
    Some impediments are: pronouncing the r as w, or y or as the French r. Pronouncing the k as t (usually done by kinds). Pronouncing the sh sound like a certain sh I hear in the German language. And of course, the lisp produced when pronouncing the s, z.
  16. Serafín33

    Serafín33 Senior Member

    I have nothing against Yārā's ر. Just pointing out that the trio in the opening of the clip pronounce the ر quiet like an English r at 0:25.;)
    That should rather be added to this thread, too.
  17. 6aalib Senior Member

    English (US)
    I would like to know both:

    1. Personally, how often do you roll your R's in daily talking?
    2. The official pronounciation of ر in MSA. Is it always supposed to be rolling, or does it depend on surrounding letters/sounds? (eg. ephatic consonants, etc)

    Personally, I notice I rarely actually "rolllll" the R. I definitely pronounce it differently than English, but I notice I usually TAP the tip of my tongue at the front of my mouth rather than make it "flutter" and make that "spanish rolling" sound.

    I did a random google search on it, and many pages say that the R is (almost) always rolling in Arabic. But I think I have noticed almost 50/50, even when listening to news programs.
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 3, 2013
  18. Tracer

    Tracer Senior Member

    Wadi Jinn
    American English
    I too have lately run across all kinds of sources insisting that Arabic /r/ is “rolled”. In a word, whoever started this myth doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

    Arabic doesn’t have “rolled” rs. Neither does English, Italian, French and most other languages. At the most, what they have is a “flap”, but not a “roll”.

    If you want to hear a real roll, you have to turn to Spanish which has both: a roll and a flap.

    Span. PERO (but) = Flap. Similar to US English /tt/ in the word “matter”. Similar to the /r/ in MSA كـريـم (dear)

    Span. PERRO (dog) = Roll. Doesn’t exist in English nor in Arabic – not in the way it exists in Spanish (not even close).

    Therefore, I suggest you ignore these erroneous sources or better, write to them and tell them how wrong they are. I do it all the time.
  19. إسكندراني

    إسكندراني Senior Member

    أرض الأنجل
    عربي (مصر)ـ | en (gb)
    Rolling it is wrong. I think if you search old threads you should find a discussion on this. It is 'almost' rolled but not quite. However, mediterranean dialects all roll it, approaching (but not quite) what spanish does for example. But it remains a personal feature to some extent, several of my cousins don't roll it at all, which is equally wrong.
  20. Zoghbi Senior Member

    arabic (Algeria)
    Sorry, I don't understand the topic. I was completely ignoring that it could be a difference between the prononciation of "ra"/r in arabic/spanish. As a know it's stictly the same thing:

    Span. PERO (but)= rasek راسك (your head)

    Span. PERRO (dog) = برّا (outside) حارّ (spicy) محرّش (excited) يقرّب (he move closer), etc ... so the shedda in the ra = roll.
  21. vinyljunkie619 Senior Member

    algerian arabic/american english
    In Algerian Arabic, double R.. "RR" is rolled just like in Spanish... I have no idea if it's the same in other dialects, I have heard it rolled in Egyptian and in Gulf, so I roll "RR" by default.
  22. Schem

    Schem Senior Member

    Najdi Arabic
    I agree with Zoghbi.

    Wouldn't it also depend on the position of the R in the word? Like definite nouns with assimilating letters could realize as a rolled R (errou7 or arrou7 الروح) while otherwise (rou7 روح) would be a flap in those dialects. Are there any dialects that actually roll their R's with words like روح or كريم?
  23. 6aalib Senior Member

    English (US)
    I think its clear the answer to my first question ....some people roll the R's and some do not.

    But I am very surprised to hear you guys say that rolling it is incorrect in MSA. Since I have been listening for it, I definitely hear very professional speakers roll the R many times, And I am mean the full Spanish PERRRRRRO roll, with the tongue fluttering.
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 5, 2013
  24. dkarjala Senior Member

    English - America
    You're right. The difference in any language with this articulation is either flapped or rolled. The number of rolls varies with language, dialect and speaker, but the bottom line is that there is a flap - in Arabic a single raa - and a trill, and the latter is 'longer' i.e. more than one flap per breath. If people want to record it and slow it down and count the flaps, they are welcome to do so. Either way, it's easy to hear the difference.
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 5, 2013
  25. إسكندراني

    إسكندراني Senior Member

    أرض الأنجل
    عربي (مصر)ـ | en (gb)
    Because modern standard speakers often pronounce words wrong. Right is defined as classical pronunciation.

    mediterranean speakers are almost at 'perro' when saying مرّة برّا
  26. Ihsiin

    Ihsiin Senior Member

    I disagree. Right is what is pronounced by native, vernacular speakers (since native speakers can only be vernacular).
    What "classical pronunciation" actually was is far from certain. It almost certainly was not, however, the same as the modern, institutionally correct, standard pronunciation.
    I pronounce ر as a trill or a tap, depending on whether it takes a shadda or not.
  27. Hemza

    Hemza Senior Member

    Paris, France
    French, Mor/Hijz Arabic (heritage)
    I agree with Zoghbi too. When "ر" doesn't carry shadda, it's a flap, but when it has a shadda, it's rolled like in Spanish. Also, in old urban French, "r" were rolled too until 17th century (not anymore now).
  28. Tracer

    Tracer Senior Member

    Wadi Jinn
    American English
    I have heard, and I have asked, native Arabic speakers to say الـريـاض on several occasions, specifically to see if they "roll" the /r/.

    They don't roll the /r/ - ever. Not even once. What they say is also not a "flap" - it's an "elongation" of the "neutral" /r/. It sounds like an electric machine starting up is the best way I can describe it. But that's not a "roll".

    A true "roll" requires the tongue to "trill" rapidly move up and down (by the force of air being pushed out). With these same people, I've asked them to listen to me as I pronounce الـريـاض with a "real" roll or trill as is done in Spanish.

    They tell me they've never heard an Arab speaking Arabic using that sound.....ever. In fact, they couldn't imitate me. And it actually sounds quite silly when I say it. It almost sounds like I'm speaking Spanish and not Arabic. I continue to maintain that a "trilled roll" is not native to Arabic (or English or.......) whether MSA or EA or other dialect.

    I am most certain that if I had ever heard that "rolled trill" in Arabic, I would have immediately noticed. But I never have.....not even close and not even once.

    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 5, 2013
  29. dkarjala Senior Member

    English - America
    The reason you put quotes on "rolled trill" sort of highlights the true issue in this thread - these issues have been laid to rest by phoneticians and can be empirically measured. The degree of tension and the intensity of turbulence involved in rolling 'r' can certainly noticeably change its character - this doesn't change the fact that the raa mushaddada in Arabic is, in fact, phonetically a coronal trill. No one should be claiming that it's "like" Spanish rr or anything of the sort. Sounds change and are modified in subtle ways that can't always be depicted by IPA or described with commonly used phonetic terms.

    In any case, there is no debate as to whether a trill exists in Arabic in scientific circles. Just as sounds even as basic as t and u can be analyzed by speakers of various languages and dialects as different phonemes altogether, so too the r issue is one of extreme subtlety. The disagreement here comes from a sheer lack of rigor and research.
  30. Hemza

    Hemza Senior Member

    Paris, France
    French, Mor/Hijz Arabic (heritage)
    It depends of the word. For example, try to pronounce "marra" (a time) you will hear that the "r" is rolled.
  31. vinyljunkie619 Senior Member

    algerian arabic/american english
    Every dialect I have heard does the "purring" rolled R for "RR." The exception is for Chaldeans in Iraq, their R sounds like a mix between Lam and Ghain and certain Israelis who speak fluent Arabic, which they pronounce as Ghain; in those dialects, "RR" is just the lengthened version of their "R."

    As a matter of fact, my neighbor is Jordanian and I asked him to pronounce R with a shadda, and he rolled it as in Spanish "Perro."

    I equate native pronunciation with accurate pronunciation of the majority. I would never consider the pronunciation of a native speaker incorrect because their particular dialect deviated over time from the Arabic spoken around 700AD... Dialectal pronunciation is correct over archaic pronunciation, IMHO. I am not saying that to anger anyone.

    Geem instead of Jeem is correct for Egyptian
    Gaf instead of Qaf is correct in many places.
    Ch-K/ J-Q is correct with many words in the Gulf States/Iraq
    Q-Gh is correct in Yemen/3oman/Arabophone Persian villages
    Hamza instead of Qaf is correct in Egypt/certain cities in Algeria/the Levant.

    All dialects of Arabic are correct, in my honest opinion. I see a lot of this self hatred when Arabs refer to their native dialects because it is programmed into their heads that Fos7a is better. Nobody's native language is Fos7a and 9 times out of 10, it is spoken incorrectly by Arabs, that is testament enough.
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2013
  32. Tracer

    Tracer Senior Member

    Wadi Jinn
    American English
    I believe we're talking at cross-purposes here and we're actually describing different sounds. I'm not sure at this point what we mean by a "rolled r". I think what I meant to say was a "trilled r". In any case:

    1. Please go to <> PRESS where it says "CLICK ABOVE" (Don't click ABOVE....just click the sound symbol).
    Then LISTEN to the Spanish for RED (#3 down) and for BROWN (last on list). The initial R is the sound I'm talking about. It doesn't exist in Arabic.

    2. Please go to <> to listen to 3 pronunciations of the Spanish /perro/ This is also the sound I'm talking about and it also doesn't exist in Arabic.

    3. Please go toالرياض)/ to hear how Al-Riyadh is pronounced by native speakers. This /r/ is very different from the /r/ in # 1 and 2 above. It is definitely not trilled.

    I tried to find /marra/ as Hemza suggested, but was unable to find anything online as far as pronunciation. But I'll spend all day asking around.
  33. vinyljunkie619 Senior Member

    algerian arabic/american english
    I know what "Perro" sounds like, I live in Southern California; Spanish is everywhere and I speak Spanish quite well too.. My native language is Arabic, I know how Arabic is supposed to sound. I, along with other North Africans, a Saudi who has commented on the thread and people that I know, all of whom are native speaker trill/roll/perro their double R's... This isn't done word initially, I guess because I don't know any words that begin with RR, unless its "el + R______"
    For the most part, R - Flap. RR - Trill/Roll. I have heard speakers do otherwise, but that was mostly from Egyptians.
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2013
  34. vinyljunkie619 Senior Member

    algerian arabic/american english
    Listen to "Ya Raya7" by Rachid Taha... He Trills/Purrs his "RR" several times in the song.
  35. Hemza

    Hemza Senior Member

    Paris, France
    French, Mor/Hijz Arabic (heritage)
    I have a friend who speaks Spanish and she tells me that when I speak Arabic, (she from Hejazi origin, she speaks Urban Hejazi and she has a very very light "ر"), I roll my "r" like in Spanish when I speak in Moroccan or Hejazi (bedouin one) because my "ر" is heavy. So I agree that when the "r" is not doubled, it's more like a flap, but when it's doubled, it's rolled. It also depends of the dialect and the person
  36. vinyljunkie619 Senior Member

    algerian arabic/american english
  37. vinyljunkie619 Senior Member

    algerian arabic/american english
  38. 6aalib Senior Member

    English (US)
    Alright so that was the 2nd thing I was looking for. SHUKRAN

    BTW that Forvo website is very good! its too bad it does not have more words.

    (Since it is not the topic of the thread: Please PM me if anyone knows anyother good websites that gives audio for Arabic words. I noticed the wordreference dictionary either does not have that feature for Arabic words, unless there is some problem with my browser)
  39. إسكندراني

    إسكندراني Senior Member

    أرض الأنجل
    عربي (مصر)ـ | en (gb)
    No, right is how we are taught to read the Qur'an. Vernaculars deviate however the speaker wants them to, and are not uniform. Not all vernaculars roll the r.

    having said this, different people may not distinguish sounds other distinguish. For me, south americans pronounce y as the french pronounce j, but spanish speakers do not hear this. Similarly, someone used to mediterranean Arabic dialects will percieve a rolled r when there isn't one. But among my own cousins and with every person who's taught me Qur'an, the r is not rolled, but is pronounced as tracer described.
  40. dkarjala Senior Member

    English - America
    I have to say it again, it is not intensely rolled, with the same turbulence as Spanish, etc.; however, it is, when doubled, the same general articulation and both are called scientifically a trill. This can be proved with x-rays and spectrographs. At the end of the day, a doubled r must be distinguishable from a flapped r, and therefore a different phoneme, and it has never been called anything but a coronal, alveolar trill.
  41. Wadi Hanifa

    Wadi Hanifa Senior Member

    Listen carefully to these recordings and let me know what you think:
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2013
  42. vinyljunkie619 Senior Member

    algerian arabic/american english

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