How to pronounce the Italian R

Discussion in 'Italian-English' started by markusbavaria, Feb 7, 2007.

  1. markusbavaria New Member

    Hi everybody,

    I am learning Italian now for some years, but as a native German speaker I still have problems with the Italian R. Although I know how it should sound and also how it should be produced (tongue, etc.) I do not manage to pronounce it properly.

    Does somebody have ideas how to practise the Italian R? Are there exercises, etc.?

    I would be grateful for every hint!

  2. Alxmrphi Senior Member

    Reykjavík, Ísland
    UK English
    Not besides getting a recording of a word with it in (like here on WR, audio link from a dictionary entry) and just playing it over and over so you can hear where exactly you need to try more, and just keep at it.
  3. Flaviano Martello

    Flaviano Martello Senior Member

    English, USA
    This is a problem I have never solved. I cannot pronounce the trilled /r/ in Italian and I am convinced that it is physical problem, since I've been trying for 35 years.

    Having said that, you are in LUCK. Because, the German or "uvular" /R/ is an acceptable Italian pronunciation in parts of the north of Italy, and is particularly typical of speech in Parma. (Why I have no idea).

    This is clearly the result of contact with German and French.

    AND, in Rome it is normal to pronounce a trilled (double r) as a single /r/.

    To get the simple single /r/ in Italian, the best thing for English speakers to do is to realize that it is not unlike the "flap" sound which we have in American English for /t/ when it appears between vowels where the second one is unstressed. So in (casual US) English "Betty" actually has the "flap" in place of the /t/. This is much closer to an Italian /r/ than the English /r/ or the German uvular /R/.

    Nevertheless, I've been told that if I pronounce all /r/s like the German /R/ it won't be totally strange. Since some Italians do it, then you will sound like them.
  4. Alxmrphi Senior Member

    Reykjavík, Ísland
    UK English
    I know people who can't roll their 'r's in England, some can some can't, I've always been able to and find it easy, but I've seen people try to explain it to others and they just can't do it.

    I think it's just a case of some people can, and other people can't.
  5. Flaviano Martello

    Flaviano Martello Senior Member

    English, USA
  6. markusbavaria New Member

    Hi again,

    thanks for your ideas. I took a look at Tensor's website and this is actually quite good. Many tips and people that have the same problem.

    I'll see and try some of the exercises.

    Best regards,

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