Hindi: Pronunciation of "r" in English loanwords

Pokeflute

Senior Member
English - American
Hi all,

Is "r" pronounced at the end of syllables in English loanwords? In my experience, words like "card," "internet," and homework," are pronounced without an "r" (i.e. 'kaaD', 'inTaneT', 'homvak').

However there are some English loanwords which seem to keep this "r" (e.g. "car" is 'kaar', "number" is 'nambar').

Does anyone know what's going on here? My original hunch was maybe that "r" needed to have a sound after it to be dropped, except I've heard "professor" as 'profesa', which would break this "rule".

(FWIW all these pronunciations come from people who also speak English fluently (e.g., went to an English medium school), in case that makes this a biased sample)
 
  • littlepond

    Senior Member
    Hindi
    The "r" is usually pronounced in Indians' English in all of these: "card," "internet," "homework," "professor." And this holds true whether the speaker is a fluent English speaker or not. I have in fact never heard an Indian speaking these words without an "r."
     

    Pokeflute

    Senior Member
    English - American
    Interesting - I wonder if this varies by speaker.

    Littlepond, I'm a bit surprised because dropping the "r" seemed to be the norm in my experience. It's quite possible I'm mishearing.

    I can't link videos here, but in 3 idiots trailer Aamir Khan says "saalaa paidaa hone ke liye bhi teen sau million spam (sperm) se res (race) lagaani paRii thi." However Farhaan's father I believe says "meraa beTaa enjiniir (engineer) banegaa" with an "r".
     
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    littlepond

    Senior Member
    Hindi
    I can't link videos here, but in 3 idiots trailer Aamir Khan says "saalaa paidaa hone ke liye bhi teen sau million spam (sperm) se res (race) lagaani paRii thi." However Farhaan's father I believe says "meraa beTaa enjiniir (engineer) banegaa" with an "r".

    Aamir Khan says "sparm" (sperm), not "spam"!
    (And Parikshit Sahni says "ainjiniiyar.")
     
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    Pvitr

    Member
    Panjabi
    Perhaps someone more used to speaking with native English speakers would pick up the habit of not pronouncing 'r's. Whilst someone learning English purely at school (in India) is more likely to pronounce the r as that features in the spelling?

    Just a thought, no actual research behind this. Although I have heard of eg 'stomach' being taught as /stomaʧ/ rather than /stomak/.
     

    littlepond

    Senior Member
    Hindi
    Perhaps someone more used to speaking with native English speakers would pick up the habit of not pronouncing 'r's. Whilst someone learning English purely at school (in India) is more likely to pronounce the r as that features in the spelling?

    Just a thought, no actual research behind this. Although I have heard of eg 'stomach' being taught as /stomaʧ/ rather than /stomak/.

    Do you mean to say all the native English speakers say "intenet" for internet and "caad" for "card"?

    And I have never heard anyone being taught /stomaʧ/! (Was the teacher a German?)
     

    Pvitr

    Member
    Panjabi
    Very common to miss out 'r's in Southern UK English esp in London/surrounding areas. So not all English speakers. But still quite normal, including for educated/well spoken people.
    So internet => intənet

    The stomach anecdote was told to me by someone taught in a village school several decades ago. I was trying to illustrate that Indians may try to pronounce English words phonetically, although obviously that doesn't always work out.
     

    Pokeflute

    Senior Member
    English - American
    Aamir Khan says "sparm" (sperm), not "spam"!
    @littlepond - Interesting. I relistened to the clip many times, and I kind of hear an "r". My brain keeps alternating between it being /spəm/ and /spəɾm/, so now I'm extremely confused.

    Assuming I can't link videos, there's a youtube video called "harry potter first visit to Hogwarts station scene harry found 9¾ railway station in hindi". (Watching this movie is what prompted the question actually).

    At 0:28, Harry asks "ek baat bataenge, aapko pataa hai plaitfaum (platform) nambar paune das kahaaN hoga?"

    Perhaps "r" before another consonant (like "m" in "sperm") is slightly softer, and for whatever reason I'm not able to hear it.

    __
    (And Parikshit Sahni says "ainjiniiyar.")

    Ah my mistake. In general I have a very hard time hearing the difference between "iiyar" and "iir" (I was saying "career" as "kariir" instead of "kariyar" until very recently).
     
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    Au101

    Senior Member
    England, English (UK)
    It may (or may not!) be worth mentioning that the r-coloured vowels of American English can be quite extreme with the tongue pulled quite far back and even turned up as in retroflex sounds (such as Hindi ट and ड).

    R-colored vowel - Wikipedia

    In fact, the vowel in the standard American pronunciation of bird is considered by some to be a syllabic r and may in fact be extremely similar to the ancient Sanskrit pronunciation of ऋ (possibly interesting side-note). The pronunciation of that sound is a wider topic though and I don't consider myself an authority on it!!

    Anyway if your brain is listening for something akin to what you would hear in the American pronunciation of (say) sperm, that may be causing it to sound a bit different to you compared to how it sounds to Indian people. In much the same way as how many Indian people hear English t and d as ट and ड or how some people hear क़ (se qalam) as क (se kashmir)
     

    Pokeflute

    Senior Member
    English - American
    That might be it honestly. Since it's an English word my brain might just be expecting a certain sound, and mishearing things.

    I'm slightly spooked now haha, but thanks for the help everyone. I'll do some more digging and see what I can turn up.
     
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    MonsieurGonzalito

    Senior Member
    Castellano de Argentina
    As a Spanish speaker, I find the Hindustani pronunciation of "r" (in English loanwords or not) notoriously similar to that of Spanish, ie: flapping, alveodental (non-rhotic), with an articulation point quite to the front of the mouth, and never dropped.

    As a matter of fact the only big difference I find in relation to Spanish, is that multiple flaps or a single flap don't produce a difference in meaning, as it does in Spanish.

    Check the song "Senorita", for example, (for "señorita", "Miss" in Spanish) [Sample Youtube video: 2Z0Put0teCM].
    The singers are the actors themselves (Farhan Akhtar, Hrithik Roshan, and Abhay Deol, who are all Indian). Hear how they pronounce the the word indistinctly with one (which is the correct way in Spanish) or multiple flaps, but always using the Spanish alveodeltal articulation.
     

    Qureshpor

    Senior Member
    Panjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    Well, there is at least one Hindustani minimal pair analogous to Spanish pero-perro: namely, zaraa (a little bit) vs zarraa (a particle).
    I don't believe there is such a language as Hindustani but in Urdu, I can think of the following.

    ذرا zaraa and ذرّہ zarrah (particle) with plural ذرّات zarraat

    کر do and کَرّ as in کَرّ و فَرّ Pomp and show

    در door and دَرّہ pass

    بر bar (various meanings) and بَرّہ lamb
     
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    MonsieurGonzalito

    Senior Member
    Castellano de Argentina
    I guess the phonetic opposition bewteen "r" and "rr" must be of very low productivity (despite the examples provided), if so many speakers vacilate so freely between both sounds.
     

    aevynn

    Senior Member
    USA
    English, Hindustani
    There is also the fact that going from "r" to "rr" shifts syllable boundaries and stress (eg, za-raa vs zar-raa/zar-rah, where green is the stressed syllable), so it would probably be legitimate to argue that "r" and "rr" are not actually in phonemic contrast (unlike in Spanish, where "r" and "rr" are actually in phonemic contrast and one has pe-ro vs pe-rro, I think).
     

    MonsieurGonzalito

    Senior Member
    Castellano de Argentina
    Also, I am no expert (and this doesn't invalidate the counter-examples), but many of the words discussed with geminated "r" are Arabic in origin, aren't they?
     
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    MonsieurGonzalito

    Senior Member
    Castellano de Argentina
    I found another, but it probably works only in Hindi, I am afraid.

    guraanaa-गुराना (a city of the Bagpat district in UP) / gurraanaa-गुर्राना (to growl)
     

    littlepond

    Senior Member
    Hindi
    ... if so many speakers vacilate so freely between both sounds.

    Didn't understand this: if there's an "rr" for a Hindi speaker, they would never use "r" -- at least not in my experience. One doesn't say "kharraaTaa" as "kharaaTaa."
    Of course, there are not many words, besides the few mentioned in this thread, where a word with "rr" exists and a word of the same spelling but with one "r" exists (and both, of course, with different meanings).
     

    MonsieurGonzalito

    Senior Member
    Castellano de Argentina
    Didn't understand this: if there's an "rr" for a Hindi speaker, they would never use "r" -- at least not in my experience. One doesn't say "kharraaTaa" as "kharaaTaa."
    But the reverse is true (i.e: using unwarranted "rr" sounds where an "r" would be expected).
    I hear that in songs all the time, and can provide numerous examples.

    (unless it is happening for stylistic reasons, which I doubt).
     

    littlepond

    Senior Member
    Hindi
    But the reverse is true (i.e: using unwarranted "rr" sounds where an "r" would be expected).
    I hear that in songs all the time, and can provide numerous examples.

    (unless it is happening for stylistic reasons, which I doubt).

    I would be interested in the examples, as I doubt that the reverse also happens (unless to prolong a word for deliberate reasons, such as to make fun of some word).
     

    MonsieurGonzalito

    Senior Member
    Castellano de Argentina
    Rang [Uks8psEpmB4]
    [2:35-2:42] The same singer and the same chorus, first say: aaj rrang hai, and then aaj rang hai

    Fevikol se [zE7Pwgl6sLA] (maybe these people are all drunk and are slurring the "r" on purpose, I don't know what the Indian cliché in that regard is)
    - [0:07] aNgRaaiyaaN letii huuN maiN jab zorr zorr se
    - merre foTo (all the time)
    - [1:52] aa jaa, mere rraajaa
    - [2:15] maiN to tanduurrii murgii huuN, yaar
    - [3:09] [Public] shaharr kii karre hai terraa [wait] rre
    ... and too many more


    Jai Jai Shivshankar [oGneAab3e88]
    [0:56] ... bigRii raahoN pe tum pairroN komoR do
    [1:07] ... jitne haiN qaay de vo saarre toR do
    ... and I stopped here

    Lut Gaye [sCbbMZ-q4-I]
    [0:54] ... rraat bhii vah yaad hai mujhko

    Le ja, Le ja [TQR70KKYMmQ]
    [1:58] ... rraatii raatii maiN bhiiguuN saath meN

    Bheegi Bheegi Si Hai Raatein [031aGiMYKlo]
    [0:53] ... bhiigii bhiigii sii haiN rraateN

    And these are songs picked more or less at random (except for "Fevicol Se")
     

    littlepond

    Senior Member
    Hindi
    Thanks, @MonsieurGonzalito jii, for taking out time to make such a long list! I also hear many (maybe not all) of them as "rr," which is quite shocking to me (a very prominent "rr" especially in the song "Fevicol se"). I don't listen that much to the songs of the type above (except for the Gangster song, which I had heard before), so I was wondering if it is some recent phenomenon in songs ... and if it is a modern phenomenon, then from where? Maybe other forum members can enlighten me.

    One can still understand "raajaa" becoming "rraajaa" at times (it makes it more loving, as in "o mere rraajaa"), but "raat" as "rraat"? I am used to "raat" as "raat" in songs (e.g. in OPaUm-UxdhY [0:42] or L4FmY6tuCcs [1:48]).
    And of course in normal, day-to-day life, I only hear "r" when "r" is meant, not "rr."
     

    Pokeflute

    Senior Member
    English - American
    FWIW I don't think zaraa and zarraa are true minimal pairs, as they are stressed differently. ("zaraa" is stressed on the final syllable, "zarraa" is stressed on the first syllable). It seems that even though "rr" results in a trill, the two "r"'s still count separately for stress purposes (in technical terminology - a syllable-final "r" will still count as a mora).

    EDIT: I see @aevynn made this point above. Apologies for repeating the point.

    "guraanaa" and "gurraanaa" seem like a true minimal pair to me (both are stressed on the second syllable).

    (The technical reason, I believe, is that the second syllable in "guraanaa" has 2 morae vs the first syllable only having 1. So adding a "r" only brings it up to 2 morae).
     
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