pronunciation: Why 'tr' sounds like ch?

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linguists

New Member
Cantonese
I find English sound interesting. For example, words with the letter "tr", they sound like more "ch" sound then "t" plus "r" sound. Does the "r" trigger palatalization in this case?
 
  • Egmont

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    Pronunciation is regional. Anything involving the letter "r" is especially so. In what variety of English do you find this?

    Can you give some examples of words in which you hear this? When I say "train," it doesn't sound anything like "chain."
     

    Alxmrphi

    Senior Member
    UK English
    I can easily see how "tree" sounds like "chree".

    The sound "ch" (voiceless postalveolar affricate) contains a lot of typical sibilant 'hissiness' which coincides (as sound shift says) with the fact that there is aspiration on the [t]. Especially because "r" is typically devoiced after voiceless plosives, you still get a very long period of voicelessness (with 'r' is much more, hmm, how can I describe it... neutral to recognising a specific sound), which can, maybe, lead to another person's interpretation that it sounds like "ch". Well, this goes for my pronunciation anyway. There will be many people who probably don't make this interpretation, however. For me, I can easily understand how it does sound like that.
     
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    JamesM

    Senior Member
    I hadn't thought of it before, but that's a great example. I think I say "tree" as a "tr" sound but if I listen it is very close to "chree". The difference is how pointed my tongue is for "tr" compared to "chr".
     

    vintage_d3vil

    Member
    American English
    I've seen a few threads about the tr and chr sounds. There were people who claimed that they make the tr sound while others claimed that they make the chr sound. What I really want to know is which sound is more common amongst native speakers and the respective region they're from. If I were to pronounce it as tr, I would actually have to tap the tip of my tongue against the back of my upper teeth. As for chr, I'm not sure if the tip of the tongue actually touches the same area but the sensation of the tongue touching a part of your mouth is just not as strong. I would really appreciate you guys if you help me out here.
     

    sdgraham

    Senior Member
    USA English
    Rather than just say "tr sounds" and "chr sounds," please provide us with whole words used in sentences. :)

    Likewise, could you please tell us (in your profile) which variety of English you claim as your native tongue? :)

    Welcome to the forum.:)
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    Welcome to the Forum! :)

    I have merged your thread to an earlier thread and assume you are thinking of how 'train' can sound like 'chrain'. Please scroll up.
     

    vintage_d3vil

    Member
    American English
    Thanks for your welcome :)

    I'm from the east coast. To be more specific, I'm from New York. An example would be the word true. As in maybe "Dreams can come true." How I pronounce this sentence is "JReams can come CHRue." No one has really pointed out my "mispronunciation", but I also noticed that the people around me does the same.
     

    Glasguensis

    Signal Modulation
    English - Scotland
    What do you mean by "Chrue"? Can you think of another word which doesn't have a tr spelling which you pronounce like this ?
     

    vintage_d3vil

    Member
    American English
    Well, I currently can't think of a word but I would pronounce tr words as if it starts with a chr sound. I don't properly pronounce the t. When I pronounce words like train or tree, the starting sound is the same as the starting sound for words like cherry or cheer except it has the r sound.
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    So you wouldn't pronounce 'tube' like 'choob'? This is also heard in some accents.
     

    vintage_d3vil

    Member
    American English
    No I wouldn't pronounce tube as choob. I only make the chr sound on words that has a tr. Similarly, I would make the jr sound for words that has a dr; drive would sound like jrive and drink would sound like jrink.
     

    Glasguensis

    Signal Modulation
    English - Scotland
    The sound you are making requires you to place the tongue a little behind the front teeth instead of touching them. Perhaps this is common in your region - I haven't noticed anyone doing this before, and I don't do it, so I can only assume it is not very widespread.
     

    jarabina

    Senior Member
    English - Scotland
    The sound you are making requires you to place the tongue a little behind the front teeth instead of touching them. Perhaps this is common in your region - I haven't noticed anyone doing this before, and I don't do it, so I can only assume it is not very widespread.
    That's really interesting (particularly as we're both Scots but from different areas). I can't say I have noticed any differences in this before - apart from in the pronunciation of 'r'. But /tr/ for me is made with the tongue firmly on or just behind the alveolar ridge (nowhere near the front teeth) and /tʃ/ as in church is further forward (not as far forward as to be on the front teeth), but that's because the tongue slips further back to where I make my 'r' as in really (way back from the aveolar ridge).

    I'm having major problems imagining what 'chr' is since I can't think of any words that begin with this (where ch is /tʃ+r/). Perhaps descriptions of where the tongue is would be more useful. Tube is /tʃ/ for me.
     

    Euphoria.

    Senior Member
    Turkish
    As a non-native, I also think the way you pronounce "true" sounds like "chrue" and "dream" sounds like "jream" It's not exactly the same though but that's how I hear it. I also hear some people pronouncing "dream" as /dri:m/ and "true" as /tru:/ but I mostly hear people saying "chrue" and "jream".
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    The sound you are making requires you to place the tongue a little behind the front teeth instead of touching them. Perhaps this is common in your region - I haven't noticed anyone doing this before, and I don't do it, so I can only assume it is not very widespread.
    I would rather surmise he realizes /tʃ̬/ as[tʂ̬] (s with a hook at the lower left side, i.e. retroflex; just in case the diacritics don't come through properly on your browser).

    @vintage_d3vil: If you pronounce <ch> in isolation, what is the final position of your tongue? Is the tip slightly bent upwards?
     

    vintage_d3vil

    Member
    American English
    When I pronounce the ch in isolation, I could feel the tip of my tongue slightly tap the ridge at the top front part of my mouth or at least pointing in that direction. Therefore I guess my tongue did slightly bent upwards. What I dod notice is that my tongue kinda fattens up a bit.
     
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    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    When I pronounce the ch in isolation, I could feel the tip of my tongue slightly tap the ridge at the top front part of my mouth or at least pointing in that direction. Therefore I guess my tongue did slightly bent upwards. What I dod notice is that my tongue kinda fattens up a bit.
    Thank you. That confirms my surmise.

    To explain the background of my question: There is an alternative way to realize the <ch> sound which in phonetics is called "laminal": The tip of the tongue rests during the whole production of the sound touching your lower teeth or alveolar ridge and both the "t" and the "sh" component of <ch> are produced with the blade rather than with the tip of the tongue. This alternative ways of production, with the tip or with the blade of the tongue, exist for all three sounds: <t>, <s> and <ch>. The likelihood of <chr> and <tr> to sound similar is highest for speakers who produce all three as apicals, i.e. with the tip rather than the blade of the tongue and who produce the <r> retroflex, i.e. with the tip of the tongue bent (at least slightly) upwards. According to what I have heard (I can't judge that from my own experience), this combination is not unlikely with New Yorkers.
     

    vintage_d3vil

    Member
    American English
    Thanks so much. I was aware that I make a chr sound and that when I say the word "true", there wasn't that distinct feeling in my mouth where the front part of my tongue significantly touches the aveolar ridge.
     

    tzhou1055

    New Member
    American English
    Can someone describe to me the mouth and tongue movements or posotions one would make when making the tr sound. Does one actually have to make his or her tongue touch the alveoli ridge?
     

    bleo

    New Member
    US English
    I am American, native to Louisiana, African American... In addition I have been teaching English internationally and have been exposed to lots of accents. Definitely in the US, many speakers pronounce tree as "chree" and "drive" as "jrive". Conversely, any Scot I have ever met would definitely not produce that as "ch" or "j" in these words. Suffice it to say, the common US and Scot pronunciations of the "tr-" and "dr-" in words are different. I have had British colleagues insist there is no "ch-" or "j-" sound in these words. But believe me, as a well-traveled American this variant is widely used in American English.

    Also, pardon me for not bothering with the phonetic symbols here. I think the use of "ch-" and "j-" for the sounds in question will be more recognizable to more readers.
     

    kuknisti

    New Member
    Turkish - Turkey
    The location where we put our tongue to make 't' and 'r' sounds are far away from each other in our mouth. If you want to clearly say them one after another you have to speak slowly so that your tongue will have enough time to go from the location of 't' sound to the location of the 'r' sound. If you want to speak fast, that is the behavior of every casual speaker in every language, in this case tongue will not have enough time to go the 'r' location right after the 't' and will stay between of two, that is the ch sound.
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    AE (US English)
    The English letter R is pronounced very different from the R used in Spanish, Turkish (as described above), Japanese and many other languages. In those languages R has the tongue tap the mouth roof, roughly where it does for English N.

    In the English R, the tongue does not touch any part of the upper mouth or teeth. There can be no contact anywhere. It is a pure "liquid" sound: the other two in English are W and Y.

    As an AE speaker, I say tr- or tw- or ty- (or t-) without moving my tongue at all. Instead, my tongue starts in a different shape/position before the t is pronounced, and stays there. It only moves to pronounce whatever vowel follows the dash. This difference (4 different tongue shapes/positions when saying t) is what causes 4 different sounds; it is not pronouncing a t sound and then after that pronouncing w/r/y.

    Because t is a plosive at the start of a word, these 4 sounds may sound very similar to ch-, chr-, chw-, and chy- to a foreigner. The difference between the t and ch sound may be quite small. A foreigner whose native language does not use plosive t might have an even more difficult time: plosive t might always sound like ch to them.
     
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    CT Yankee

    New Member
    English - American
    The location where we put our tongue to make 't' and 'r' sounds are far away from each other in our mouth. If you want to clearly say them one after another you have to speak slowly so that your tongue will have enough time to go from the location of 't' sound to the location of the 'r' sound. If you want to speak fast, that is the behavior of every casual speaker in every language, in this case tongue will not have enough time to go the 'r' location right after the 't' and will stay between of two, that is the ch sound.
    I like your answer and have been reading to see if anyone hit on this. The ch sound occurs when rolling the tongue back from t to r (also the case of d to r sounding like jr) rather than disengaging from the top of the mouth and then reengaging for the r sound. I am surprised to hear that so many people don't think this is common. This is how I believe most people from Connecticut in the US speak and I have been told by many foreigners that unlike many Americans, people from CT don't seem to have an accent and are easy to understand.
     
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