pronunciation: r instead of (r) [ ɹ ]

WooshWoosh

New Member
English - US
Hello WordReference Community,

I have a problem with pronouncing r as (r) in IPA. This means it either comes out with a British accent instead of American (ex. Four), or it's pronounced weirdly (ex. Standard, Search).

Left is how I want to pronounce it and right is how I pronounce it. For example:
R: r as (r)
Four / For: fɔːr as fɔː(r)
Or: ɔːr as ɔː(r)
Standard: stændərd as stændə(r)d

All I need are the tongue positions to pronounce it correctly. I can't find any resources online which goes into detail on how to pronounce this sound, so if someone could make a diagram that would be greatly appreciative. The diagram doesn't have to look amazing, a quick sketch in Microsoft Paint will be sufficient.

Thank you!
 
  • JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    Hello WordReference Community,

    I have a problem with pronouncing r as (r) in IPA. This means it either comes out with a British accent instead of American (ex. Four), or it's pronounced weirdly (ex. Standard, Search).

    Left is how I want to pronounce it and right is how I pronounce it. For example:
    R: r as (r)
    Four / For: fɔːr as fɔː(r)
    Or: ɔːr as ɔː(r)
    Standard: stændərd as stændə(r)d

    All I need are the tongue positions to pronounce it correctly. I can't find any resources online which goes into detail on how to pronounce this sound, so if someone could make a diagram that would be greatly appreciative. The diagram doesn't have to look amazing, a quick sketch in Microsoft Paint will be sufficient.

    Thank you!
    Whenever I have seen a description of how a word is pronounced and have seen (r) in it, I have always assumed it meant that the r was present in some pronunciations( i.e. rhotic) and absent in others (i.e. the non-rhotic ones), and I could not find (r) in any charts of IPA symbols.
    So, for me, when I see " fɔː(r) " I interpret that to mean that some people pronounce it as fɔːr and others as fɔː.
    So I am puzzled if you say you are pronouncing it as " fɔː(r) ".
    But I may well be missing some fine point of IPA symbols.
     

    Wordsmyth

    Senior Member
    Native language: English (BrE)
    I don't think the use of brackets together with IPA symbols is necessarily 'official' or standardised. I suppose some authors may use it as you describe, JS, but there are several rhotic pronunciations of <r>, with different IPA symbols: [ɹ], [ɻ], [r], ... and the non-rhotic treatment of <r> has, of course, no IPA symbol, because it's not pronounced.;) So using "(r)" to mean 'rhotic or not' would be at best an approximation.

    I have sometimes seen it used to indicate a slight or faint pronunciation. In this article on lexical sets, in the big table at the bottom, we see brackets being used for very specific accents: the <ar> in start being æː (ɹ) in 'Popular Dublin', but ɑːɻ in 'Fashionable Dublin'. I doubt that the brackets indicate a rhotic/non-rhotic option in this case. Similarly, (r) appears in that table only under Jamaican and Guyana English: I'm assuming it means a faint trilled r — but if anyone knows differently, I'm prepared to be corrected.

    Whoosh2, I guess you're actually talking about fɔːɹ (not fɔːr, which would be a trilled r). When you say you're trying to pronounce "r as (r) in IPA", what do you mean by "in IPA"? Do you have a source that clearly defines what's meant by those brackets? I'd be interested to know, because I've found articles that use such brackets, but none that ever explains them!

    And when you say it "comes out with a British accent", I guess you mean non-rhotic British. (Be aware, though, that there are also plenty of rhotic British accents).

    Ws
    :)

     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    Thanks, WS - I knew I'd learn something from this thread:D The IPA chart I consulted seemed quite simple!

    Edit: I have not found the site that used the (r) but I seem to recall it did not use IPA (so the usage may be as I described, rather than trying to specify a narrow definition of some sort of r!)
     
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    Giorgio Spizzi

    Senior Member
    Italian
    Hullo, Woosh.

    First, a few words on terminology.

    IPA can be either of two things:

    1. the International Phonetic Association, an organization founded in 1886 by a group of European phoneticians to promote the study of phonetics. It devised
    2. the International Phonetic Alphabet, first published in 1889 and last revised in 1989, which has become the most widely used system for transcribing the sounds of any language.

    As far as the pronunciation of <r> is concerned, given the sizable number of different English accents in the world, one has to choose which variety one is interested in: General American, Received Pronunciation, BBC English, Australian English, Scots English, Indian English, etc., just to name a few.

    If RP (Received Pronunciation) for example, the sound is what goes by the name of post-alveolar approximant. An approximant is a type consonant in the production of which the articulators approach each other but do not get sufficiently close to each other to produce a complete consonant such as a plosive, an affricate, a fricative, a nasal, etc.
    What's important is that the tip of the tongue approaches/approach the alveolar ridge in approximately the same way as it would for the articulation of "t" and "d", but never actually makes contact with any part of the roof of the mouth. (The fact that there's no contact makes some specialists consider—understandably—that /r/ is in fact a vowel sound).

    The tongue is slightly curved backwards with the tip raised; consonants with this tongue shape are called retroflex.

    GS :)
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    Sorry to be a slow learner but I have now seen in this thread and the tables <*>, (*),
    [*] and /r*/ where * represents some symbol with 4 different brackets around it. Is each the different brackets indicative of some specific information, pronunciation or category?
    (This is on topic for me, given the OP's question :D)
     

    Wordsmyth

    Senior Member
    Native language: English (BrE)
    < > : a grapheme (a written character)

    / / : a phoneme (a basic sound unit that distinguishes one word from another); a phoneme may have variations in the way it's pronounced: these are its allophones.

    [ ] : a phone (a distinct and unique speech sound).

    ( ) : has no phonetic or phonological meaning (that I'm aware of).

    In non-phonetic languages, such as English, a grapheme may represent several different phonemes (WYSIONWYH: What You See Is Often Not What You Hear:D).

    Quite often, one of the phones of a phoneme uses the same IPA symbol as for the phoneme. In that case, if you see, for example, [t], you know it refers to a specific pronunciation (WYSIWYH: What You See Is What You Hear). If you see /t/, it covers all possible allophones (WYSIRWYH: What You See Is Roughly What You Hear). Most speakers are unaware of (and probably don't care about) all the allophones of a given phoneme: /t/, for instance, has the alveolar stop [t], the aspirated [tʰ], the glottal [ʔ], the flapped [ɾ], and an unreleased /t/ that I can't reproduce properly here!

    NB. The WYSI comments are mine. I'm sure any self-respecting phonetician would disapprove!

    Ws
    :)
     
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    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    Thank you WS - very clear (WYWIWIU - what you wrote is what I understand).
    You can see why I was confused by the OP's (r) - because probably [r] was intended. We may find out when the OP re-enters the building:D

    Here's an entry from MW for corner. It seems to use the system I mentioned above, at least for the first r(?)
    cor·ner
    noun \ˈkȯ(r)-nər\ (Medical Dictionary)
     
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    Wordsmyth

    Senior Member
    Native language: English (BrE)
    If RP (Received Pronunciation) for example, the sound is what goes by the name of post-alveolar approximant.
    [...]
    The tongue is slightly curved backwards with the tip raised; consonants with this tongue shape are called retroflex.

    GS :)
    To me those sound like two different things, Giorgio: the (post-)alveolar approximant [ɹ] in the first case, and the retroflex approximant [ɻ ] in the second case.
    Maybe it depends on how naturally curly your tongue is.:D
    [...] Here's an entry from MW for corner. It seems to use the system I mentioned above, at least for the first r(?)
    That seems to be one of those hybrid systems that appear in some US dictionaries, as they move away from the old 'pronunciation respelling' but haven't yet adopted IPA. What I find curious is that the Medical Dictionary entry shows ˈk(r)-nər, whereas the main entry shows ˈkr-nər. Do they really mean that doctors (or vets if you open the 'definition' link) may pronounce the word differently from normal folks? :D


    Ws
    :)
     

    WooshWoosh

    New Member
    English - US
    I don't think the use of brackets together with IPA symbols is necessarily 'official' or standardised. I suppose some authors may use it as you describe, JS, but there are several rhotic pronunciations of <r>, with different IPA symbols: [ɹ], [ɻ], [r], ... and the non-rhotic treatment of <r> has, of course, no IPA symbol, because it's not pronounced.;) So using "(r)" to mean 'rhotic or not' would be at best an approximation.

    I have sometimes seen it used to indicate a slight or faint pronunciation. In this article on lexical sets, in the big table at the bottom, we see brackets being used for very specific accents: the <ar> in start being æː (ɹ) in 'Popular Dublin', but ɑːɻ in 'Fashionable Dublin'. I doubt that the brackets indicate a rhotic/non-rhotic option in this case. Similarly, (r) appears in that table only under Jamaican and Guyana English: I'm assuming it means a faint trilled r — but if anyone knows differently, I'm prepared to be corrected.

    Whoosh2, I guess you're actually talking about fɔːɹ (not fɔːr, which would be a trilled r). When you say you're trying to pronounce "r as (r) in IPA", what do you mean by "in IPA"? Do you have a source that clearly defines what's meant by those brackets? I'd be interested to know, because I've found articles that use such brackets, but none that ever explains them!

    And when you say it "comes out with a British accent", I guess you mean non-rhotic British. (Be aware, though, that there are also plenty of rhotic British accents).

    Ws
    :)

    It seems I actually meant ɹ and not (r). Sorry! I just read the Wikipedia page for ɹ, and it seems that it is often replaced with r.

    But I still have a problem pronouncing ɹ. The page provided by Loob helped me, but I think I'm missing something because I'm still pronouncing it wrong. Does anyone have an animation of the mouth during the pronunciation of ɹ? I believe my mouth is causing me to pronounce it wrong.
     
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    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    WooshWoosh, what makes you think you're pronouncing it incorrectly? You say your native language is English - US, so I would expect you to be using an American "r". Do you have a speech impediment? If so, I think you need more specialised advice than these forums can provide:).
     

    WooshWoosh

    New Member
    English - US
    WooshWoosh, what makes you think you're pronouncing it incorrectly? You say your native language is English - US, so I would expect you to be using an American "r". Do you have a speech impediment? If so, I think you need more specialised advice than these forums can provide:).
    Yes I do. I'm looking for a speech therapists right now, but it doesn't hurt for me to try to fix it myself for now :)
     

    Giorgio Spizzi

    Senior Member
    Italian
    Hullo, Woosh.

    If you type "pronunciation of "r" in English", you'll find plenty of info. You might start this for starters: pronuncian.com/Lessons/Default.aspx?Lesson=16

    Good luck from me too.

    GS :)
     

    tonyspeed

    Senior Member
    English & Creole - Jamaica
    Similarly, (r) appears in that table only under Jamaican and Guyana English: I'm assuming it means a faint trilled r — but if anyone knows differently, I'm prepared to be corrected.

    We don't trill r's in Jamaica. I am assuming it means some portion of the population adds a rhotic r into the pronunciation. Hence, (r) means optional r.
     

    Wordsmyth

    Senior Member
    Native language: English (BrE)
    Thanks for that, Tony.

    Oh well, I was just hazarding a guess based on the use of brackets elsewhere in the table. Perhaps the brackets weren't used consistently, even within the same table; there was no explanation given.

    Ws:)
     
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