carro, perro (Pronunciation R: alveolar/uvular trill)

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Durean

Member
English - Canada
I've been studying spanish for 2-3 years now, and it took me at least a year to reach the point where I was sure I had just about mastered the trilled "r" sound, like in "carro, perro, risa", etc. However, just a few days ago, I realized that all this time I've been pronouncing it by flapping my uvula against the back of my tongue (uvular trill), whereas most native spanish speakers do it with the tip of there tongue (alveolar trill). I looked this up on wikipedia, and apparently some native speakers never manage to do it the "traditional" way, and do it the way I do. For example, one of my next-door neighbours, who speaks German as a first language, trills his r's the same way I do.
My question is, about what percentage of native Spanish speakers pronounce it as I do, the "untraditional" way. Does it sound strange to most native speakers? I know how funny I think it is when a native English speaker has a lispe, or pronounces his r's like w's. Would this be the same kind of problem? Basically, I'd just like to know how serious my "problem" is.
Thanks
 
  • lforestier

    Senior Member
    Puerto Rico - Spanish/English
    It is a common exercise among Elementary School children to practice the following phrase "R con R cigarro, R con R barril, rápido corre los carros por las rieles del ferrocarril" (or something like it, my memory isn't as good as it used to be) just to practice the sound, which can be difficult even for a native speaker.
    Almost 50% of my fellow puertorricans (According to a study by the Univ. of Chicago) will pronounce the double R somewhat like a J.
     

    DWO

    Senior Member
    Spanish - Argentina
    Hi, Durean. The only problem you will have is that you'll sound funny and won't be able to deny where you come from. Here in Argentina, we love visitors from other countries, so nobody will mind about "your problem". The right way to get to pronounce double "r" propperly, is to put the tip of your tongue just between your gums and your two upper frontal teeth (the 2 in the middle, I don't know their name) and practice, practice AND practice. You'll start feeling your tongue ticks. Because it's true, there are a lot of people here that doesn't say it as it should, but not in the way saxons do, they sound as a mixture between "shh" and a whistle. I know it's very difficult for you, since there's no similar phonetics in your language.
    But I'm 37 and it's very nice for me to find a 15 year-old person who wants to excell. Congratulations! Keep up the good work!
     

    DWO

    Senior Member
    Spanish - Argentina
    It was "R con R, guitarra; R con R, barril. Mira qué rápido ruedan las ruedas del Ferrocarril". Little children here, when playing with toy cars say: "Rrrrrr", and if the car is a friction one they say "Rrrrrmmm" ! They are so cute!
     

    danielfranco

    Senior Member
    The rhyme is different, depending on the country and the period. For example, in the early Seventies, when I was a pup, the rhyme went: "Erre con erre cigarro, erre con erre barril, rápido ruedan los carros, rodando en las vías del ferrocarril."

    Now, I'm impressed that you can control your uvula. I can't do anything with mine. And, yes, sometimes the R's stay unconquered. I think mostly it has to do with all the allophones that go next to them. I mean, if you don't say your R's like the natives, some of the other sounds piled and tacked on them in the words will also be modified, and the whole word will sound slightly different.

    No worries, just keep trying!
    D
     

    Durean

    Member
    English - Canada
    Thanks everyone for the responses!!

    About the different trills, I just looked it all up on Wikipedia again, and I discovered that the uvular trill, that is, the way I pronounce the double r with the back of my tongue and my uvula, is how it's pronounced in German, and sometimes French, whereas in Spanish and Italian, you use the tip of your tongue (alveolar trill). So basically, I'm pronouncing it like a German should! (Which is slightly ironic, because I have mostly German background, although I don't speak the language.) Isn't if funny how life works out sometimes? At least now I know the difference. Now that I think about it, I wasn't too far off with my trill, I mean, at least I was making SOME sort of trill, right? Anyways, I guess I'll keep working on my alveolar trill! Thanks again!
     

    DWO

    Senior Member
    Spanish - Argentina
    You're right. That's why I used the word "saxons", referring to you and your neighbours. French people use a more nasal sound (a Belgian friend told me so, I also studied some French), while saxons use a guttural (what you call uvular) sound.
     

    sna

    Senior Member
    spanish (spain)
    Durean, if you want to practise you can use this web I put some days ago.

    http://tts.loquendo.com/ttsdemo/default.asp?page=id&voice=Leonor
    This pronunciation corresponds to spanish from Spain but you can change it.
    It sounds very natural to me!

    Put the text and play it.
    "El perro de Ramírez no tiene rabo porque Ramón Ramírez se lo ha cortado"
    "R con R, guitarra; R con R, barril. Mira qué rápido ruedan las ruedas del Ferrocarril"
    "r, r, r, r, r, r, r, r, r, r, r"

    Hope that helps.
     

    Milton Sand

    Senior Member
    Español (Colombia)
    Hi,
    As long as you get to be understood, it's not a problem. Spanish speakers are not that strict on phonetics (for instance, you can use and mix the variations of "ll" sound and nobody will notice).

    Small kids usually can't pronounce the Spanish "rr" and they resort to combinations like "gr" and "dr".

    Men from my family have this difficulty to pronounce a clearly vibrant "rr". I need to be awared and some effort to pronounce it clearly, but in fast speech I (and my brothers) tend to articulate it as an English "r" and often as the "th" in "they". My girflriend likes it because —she says— I seem kind of pampered. Please, don't tell anybody. Shame on me!

    In short, it's no big deal. So let's say you don't have a problem with "rr"; neither do I. We just have our personal styles ;).

    A tiny percentage of the population uses glutural "rr", which most people here consider similar to "gr" in "ogro" or like a french "r". A higher percentage has my same problem "style". It seems to me that people like me and people like them, all together, would hardly reach 3%. But that's just my supposition... at a guess.

    This is the rhime I was tought to practice "rr":
    Erre con erre cigarro.
    Erre con erre barril.
    Rápido ruedan los carros cargados de azúcar al ferrocarril.

    Regards ;)
     
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    Durean

    Member
    English - Canada
    The funny thing is, even though I do it "the guttural way", to me it sounds almost exactly the same as in Spanish. That is, it doesn't really sound like it's coming from my throat, and that's why, for the longest time, I basically thought I was doing it the right way. Maybe I just can't hear the difference. Oh, and it DEFINITELY doesn't sound like I'm saying "dr" or "gr".
    By the way, the tongue-twisters actually don't help me in the slightest, because I can't pronounce the alveolar trill like in Spanish AT ALL. So I was wondering, when you're pronouncing the trill, is the tip the only part of the tongue that touches your teeth? And how does the air escape from your mouth? Through the sides? Or only over the top of the tongue? I'm starting to think that pronouncing the trill has a lot to do with tongue strength, so are you supposed to keep it limp, or stiff? Another thing, would the difficulty of pronouncing it have to do with tongue size? Do people with smaller tongues have less difficulty learning how to pronounce it? (It's just that my tongue is pretty big, but I don't know if that has to do with anything.)
     

    susantash

    Senior Member
    Español de Uruguay
    So I was wondering, when you're pronouncing the trill, (1) is the tip the only part of the tongue that touches your teeth? (2) And how does the air escape from your mouth? Through the sides? Or only over the top of the tongue?
    3) Another thing, would the difficulty of pronouncing it have to do with tongue size?
    quote]

    I'll try to answer some of your questions:

    1) The tip of your tongue should touch your alveolar ridge, not your teeth.
    2) The air escapes through the sides.
    3) I don't think its difficulty has anything to do with tongue size. The difficulty lies in realizing how make your tongue vibrate, and I'm afraid I can't tell you how to do that becuase it's something that I do unconciously. I've tried to think what is implied in the process always without any success.
     

    sna

    Senior Member
    spanish (spain)
    Hay gente que físicamente no puede pronunciar bien la "rr".
    La gente con el frenillo de la lengua corto no puede pronunciarla bien, es imposible.
    Hay niños que de pequeños se les practica una pequeña cirugía por este motivo.
     

    Durean

    Member
    English - Canada
    Finally!

    About 3 days after my last post here, I managed to learn how to make a short trilling sound. I did this by first saying a word like "caro", and then saying it faster, sharper, and with a stronger breath. The result, when done right, made it sound like "carro". Man was I happy!

    However, not all my problems are over. As mentioned in other posts, it is quite difficult to pronounce the trill after any consonants at all, specifically l, n, and s. Although it's generally fairly easy to pronounce after any vowel, I've noticed it's actually quite challenging to say it after the spanish "i" (irrompible, irresponsable, irritante). Usually, I stick in some other vowel sound in between the "i" and "rr", so it sounds a bit like "ierrompible", but not THAT bad.

    So basically, I've got a few more questions:

    -Would I sound fairly weird if I almost completely cut off the "s" sound before an "rr"? It's just that I saw on another thread that it's common for native Spanish speakers to say things like "la rosas".

    -Do native speakers make a slight pause between the consonant and "rr", for example, in words like "alrededor", "Enrique", and "Israel"? Or would you slightly cut the consonant off as I said in the first question?

    -Could you just give me some tips on all of this, plus how to pronounce the "i" before the trill?
    Thanks a lot.
     

    DWO

    Senior Member
    Spanish - Argentina
    Hi, Durean! First of all, congrats!
    - Yes, you will not only sound weird, but also uneducated
    - No, we don't, but you can do it for a while until you learn
    - Tip: Unfortunately, the only tip I can give you is to keep practicing, sorry.

    There's no other way. You may believe that natives do it naturally, but it's difficult even for us. So, "¡no bajes los brazos y seguí practicando! Vas bien".
    Saludos
     

    monipiki

    Senior Member
    Argentine Spanish
    I've been studying spanish for 2-3 years now, and it took me at least a year to reach the point where I was sure I had just about mastered the trilled "r" sound, like in "carro, perro, risa", etc. However, just a few days ago, I realized that all this time I've been pronouncing it by flapping my uvula against the back of my tongue (uvular trill), whereas most native spanish speakers do it with the tip of there tongue (alveolar trill). I looked this up on wikipedia, and apparently some native speakers never manage to do it the "traditional" way, and do it the way I do. For example, one of my next-door neighbours, who speaks German as a first language, trills his r's the same way I do.
    My question is, about what percentage of native Spanish speakers pronounce it as I do, the "untraditional" way. Does it sound strange to most native speakers? I know how funny I think it is when a native English speaker has a lispe, or pronounces his r's like w's. Would this be the same kind of problem? Basically, I'd just like to know how serious my "problem" is.
    Thanks
    Hola a todos!
    Durean no sé si vas a lograr tu objetivo (no te preocupes confío en que sí), pero creo que algunos te debemos agradecer que con tu consulta nos has remontado a nuestra niñez y recordar con alegría el " r con r guitarra, r con r.....", por lo menos esto he sentido yo.:eek:
    Me siento identificada con ésto, ya que al igual que uno de mis compañeros de foro, nunca pude lograr la correcta pronunciación de la "r", a pesar de la ayuda recibida de mis padres, familiares y amigos.
    No obstante, te quiero alentar y contarte que cuando era niña en mi clase había varios niños que tenían,en un principio, mi mismo "estilo". Y fué con la práctica y acostumbrando su voz, que lograron pronunciar correctamente.
    En esos años no existían los Fonoaudiólogos (tampoco era la prehistoria :eek:), pero unas consultas tal vez te ayudarían (sé que trabajan muy bien).
    No puedo darte la solución, ya que nunca conseguí entender por qué no puedo aplicar bien la lengua en ésto.
    Como verás no estás sólo, y piensa que la fonética no es fácil para todos, también nosotros solemos tener dificultades con ciertas palabras en Inglés.
    Exitos con tus intentos ;).
    Saludos para todos. :)
     

    Outsider

    Senior Member
    Portuguese (Portugal)
    Hello, Durean.

    This website may help you perfect your pronunciation of the Spanish "rr", as well as figure out the difference between it and the German "rr".
     

    Milton Sand

    Senior Member
    Español (Colombia)
    Hi,
    I have problems too with the "rr" after an "i". I'm not the one to give you a tip on this :D.

    But almost everybody I know (including me, even trying not to do it) pronounces this different "rr" sound when there's an S before it. It's kind of fricative and a little africate. The combination seems like a /shr/ rather than a /srr/. I've heard it a lot in Mexican telenovelas ("Lo que dice en estos registros, Israel Alberto, sencillamente es ridículo").

    Actually, many people from the Colombian SW corner (pastusos), a lot of elder bogotanos (typical "cachacos") and many people from Ecuador, pronounces every "rr" sound like an "shr".

    About L and N before an "rr" sound, it seems to me they are completely pronounced before saying the "rr". No pause is supposed to go in between, but it can help you in practice.

    Good luck ;)
     

    verdecillo

    Member
    English- United States
    Hello Durean,

    I know this thread is old, but I am currently getting my masters degree in Hispanic Linguistics, so your post interested me in such a way that I had to write something. First of all, as to your original question, as far as I am aware the only Spanish speakers that pronounce /rr/ as a uvular trill (as opposed to an alveolar trill) are foreigners. Like you said, it is a standard pronunciation for many dialects of French and German, but I had never heard of it being used in Spanish by any native speaker anywhere (but one never knows for sure- there could be some little-known community of native Spanish speakers that use it). I was going to suggest the same website that Outsider suggested (it’s a good one). Also, I can offer other advice (if you are still having difficulty- I know that you may have long solved your problem). Having studied phonology and phonetics, I can tell you that the reason you are probably having trouble pronouncing /rr/ after /i/ and /l, n, s/ is because all these phones are what are called in linguistics “homorganic” (they are all articulated at the same place in mouth). In other words, it is sometimes difficult articulate two such sounds right after each other. To help, you can “cheat” and pronounce the first sound in a slightly different position, but keeping the same general sound. For example, instead of saying “Enrique” you could try “Engrique” (with a velar nasal /ŋ/ instead of the normal alveolar /n/) or pronounce the /l/ in “alrededor” by touching the tongue tip behind the bottom teeth instead of touching it to the alveolar ridge and you could try using the body of the tongue rather than the tip to articulate the /s/ in words like “Israel” so that you can save the use of the tip for the /rr/. Just some suggestions, hope they help.
     

    Istriano

    Senior Member
    Croatian
    First of all, as to your original question, as far as I am aware the only Spanish speakers that pronounce /rr/ as a uvular trill (as opposed to an alveolar trill) are foreigners.
    This is not true.

    uvular or back variants for /r/ ([ʀ], [x] or [χ]) are widespread in rural Puerto Rican Spanish and in the variety of Ponce,[4] whereas they are heavily stigmatized in the variety of the capital.[5] To a lesser extent, velar variants of /r/ are found in some rural Cuban (Yatera, Guantánamo Province)[6] and Dominican vernaculars (El Cibao, eastern rural regions of the country
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guttural_R#Spanish
     

    verdecillo

    Member
    English- United States
    Well, well, what do you know... It seems then that such pronunciation is restricted (as I conjectured) to very small communities (apparently certain rural areas in the Caribbean). Thank you Istriano for that information. :)
     

    Durean

    Member
    English - Canada
    Verdecillo-
    Yes, I've long solved the problem - mostly. But I'm not too worried, because it turns out that in Costa Rica, where I may be going soon, they pronounce the r just like in English, or fairly close anyway.
     

    duvija

    Senior Member
    Spanish - Uruguay

    Exactly. Caribbean Spanish does the guttural thing.

    And yes, Durean, you may skip the [s] before [rr]. We all do in fast speech (and even in normal speech).
    The fact people have problems with the r after s/l/r/ is because those are the only consonants that may precede a [rr]. Spanish doesn't like any other consonant in syllable final position (with some aberrations like p/t/k/j, that are slowly being removed from the orthography)
     

    BrooklynBoy

    Senior Member
    English - Nueva York
    Hi,
    As long as you get to be understood, it's not a problem. Spanish speakers are not that strict on phonetics (for instance, you can use and mix the variations of "ll" sound and nobody will notice).

    Small kids usually can't pronounce the Spanish "rr" and they resort to combinations like "gr" and "dr".

    Men from my family have this difficulty to pronouncinge a clearly vibrant "rr". I need to be awared and make some effort [better "an effort"] to pronounce it clearly, but in fast speech I (and my brothers) tend to articulate it as an English "r" and often as the "th" in "they". My girflriend likes it because —she says— I seem kind of pampered. Please, don't tell anybody. Shame on me!

    In short, it's no big deal. So let's say you don't have a problem with "rr"; neither do I. We just have our personal styles ;).

    A tiny percentage of the population uses glutural "rr", which most people here consider similar to "gr" in "ogro" or like a french "r". A higher percentage has [I would say "have" but you might be grammatically correct] my same problem "style". It seems to me that people like me and people like them, all together, would hardly reach amount to/add up to/total 3%. But that's just my supposition... at a guess.

    This is the rhyime I was tought to practice "rr":
    Erre con erre cigarro.
    Erre con erre barril.
    Rápido ruedan los carros cargados de azúcar al ferrocarril.

    Regards ;)
    Si tan sólo yo hablara español tan bien como hablas inglés.
     

    Istriano

    Senior Member
    Croatian
    In Carribean accents with a guttural r [x], [x] is never confused with j /x/ because
    j /x/ is normally pronounced as there. ;)
     

    caminante51

    Senior Member
    English
    Hay gente que físicamente no puede pronunciar bien la "rr".
    La gente con el frenillo de la lengua corto no puede pronunciarla bien, es imposible.
    Hay niños que de pequeños se les practica una pequeña cirugía por este motivo.
    Another late addition to this very helpful thread. I am so happy to read it, but especially the quoted comment above, because I do actually have tongue-tie, and other people often won't accept how this affects my trilling ability.

    After a huge amount of practice, I can now make a sound that varies between a shortish trill or
    the different "rr" sound when there's an S before it. It's kind of fricative and a little africate. The combination seems like a /shr/ rather than a /srr/.
    as described by Milton Sand.

    Thanks also to Verdecillo, for this suggestion which is excellent.
    To help, you can “cheat” and pronounce the first sound in a slightly different position, but keeping the same general sound. For example, instead of saying “Enrique” you could try “Engrique” (with a velar nasal /ŋ/ instead of the normal alveolar /n/)
    Has anybody else had/considered surgery on their tongue-tie (as an adult)?
     

    name of a business

    New Member
    native language and the variety you spea
    Hello Durean,

    I know this thread is old, but I am currently getting my masters degree in Hispanic Linguistics, so your post interested me in such a way that I had to write something. First of all, as to your original question, as far as I am aware the only Spanish speakers that pronounce /rr/ as a uvular trill (as opposed to an alveolar trill) are foreigners. Like you said, it is a standard pronunciation for many dialects of French and German, but I had never heard of it being used in Spanish by any native speaker anywhere (but one never knows for sure- there could be some little-known community of native Spanish speakers that use it). I was going to suggest the same website that Outsider suggested (it’s a good one). Also, I can offer other advice (if you are still having difficulty- I know that you may have long solved your problem). Having studied phonology and phonetics, I can tell you that the reason you are probably having trouble pronouncing /rr/ after /i/ and /l, n, s/ is because all these phones are what are called in linguistics “homorganic” (they are all articulated at the same place in mouth). In other words, it is sometimes difficult articulate two such sounds right after each other. To help, you can “cheat” and pronounce the first sound in a slightly different position, but keeping the same general sound. For example, instead of saying “Enrique” you could try “Engrique” (with a velar nasal /ŋ/ instead of the normal alveolar /n/) or pronounce the /l/ in “alrededor” by touching the tongue tip behind the bottom teeth instead of touching it to the alveolar ridge and you could try using the body of the tongue rather than the tip to articulate the /s/ in words like “Israel” so that you can save the use of the tip for the /rr/. Just some suggestions, hope they help.
    I see someone in America never finding any native with that pronunciation, but it's actually a common speech defect, at least in Spain. Common doesn't mean that it's a frequent (or correct) pronunciation, but you're bound to meet natives who pronounce it that way. I'm one of them and I most certainly don't sound like a foreigner. When I was a kid they even sent me to the school logopedist, but I never managed to pronounce it correctly. I've met other people with this pronunciation. There are even some personalities notorious for it.

    Dunno, it's like an adult who says "wabbit" in English. It sounds a bit weird but you're bound to find some.

    Also, some natives assimilate those consonants into the r, but it sounds quite... chav-like. "Canne" for "carne", "Irrael" for "Israel", "Arrededor" for "Alrededor".
     
    Last edited:
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