[r] in a non-rhotic dialect to avoid ambiguity

SuprunP

Senior Member
Ukrainian & Russian
If you're a (native) speaker of a non-rhotic dialect of English I wonder whether you ever feel the need to add that [r] either to avoid confusion in the first place or as a means to rectify ambiguity after the fact (especially if your interlocutor has asked you to (and particularly if they are a speaker of a rhotic dialect of English)).

For example:

- According to local lore, they lived only on raw fish.
- What kind of law was that?


This, of course, may not be the most natural-sounding example, but still.

Thanks.
 
  • Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    Never, not in the UK. Yes, on occasion when talking non-rhotic BrE in NYC, but more not understanding than misunderstanding and usually talking to people whose own first language isn't English.
    The wider context usually makes it clear.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    I wonder whether you ever feel the need to add that [r] either to avoid confusion
    No. Context and construction is usually sufficient. And if that fails, moustic's and loob's suggestions are the solution.

    Local lore dictates that nobody goes on the beach on a Sunday -> lore is uncountable and usually qualified by an adjective/adjectival phrase. An unqualified "Lore" is not usually used in constructions such as "Lore dictates that nobody goes on the beach on a Sunday"
    A [local] law dictates that nobody goes on the beach on a Sunday -> law is countable and cannot be used without a determiner.
    The law dictates that nobody goes on the beach on a Sunday -> Law is uncountable but often seen as "The law to which we all know we are subject and thus is qualified by "the" for that purpose.

    The problem also arises in words with two meanings:

    "The Arabian Sheikh was very generous to me - he bought me a fine golf club."

    Does "club" mean a stick to hit golf balls with, or does it mean he bought you St Andrew's Golf Club and Hotel? :D

    I assume you have homonyms in Russian and Ukrainian.
     
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    SuprunP

    Senior Member
    Ukrainian & Russian
    Thank you!

    I almost forgot that spelling words out is a big thing in the English-speaking world. I have literally never had to spell a word out in either Russian or Ukrainian (I'm still not a big fan of it when it comes to doing it orally).
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    If your English accent is non-rhotic, it would take practice to be able to pronounce "lore" with an audible "r". Some native speakers of non-rhotic English can imitate a rhotic accent well. Others, like me, can't - or at least not without a lot of embarrassment.
     

    Egmont

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    To make matters worse, some regional non-rhotic dialects pronounce "law" as "lore," with an audible "r" - much as President Kennedy famously pronounced the name of a large island south of Florida as "Cuber."
     

    moustic

    Senior Member
    British English
    I almost forgot that spelling words out is a big thing in the English-speaking world.
    It's useful sometimes, but not all that often. In context there isn't usually much room for ambiguity.

    However changing the pronunciation wouldn't be an option with words like bow / bough or knot / not. You would have to say: B.O.W. or bow with a W to avoid misunderstanding.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    To make matters worse, some regional non-rhotic dialects pronounce "law" as "lore," with an audible "r" - much as President Kennedy famously pronounced the name of a large island south of Florida as "Cuber."
    That would only, I think, be the case when the next word starts with a vowel (see threads on intrusive "r".)
    I'm not sure how it makes matters worse:cool:.
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    That would only, I think, be the case when the next word starts with a vowel (see threads on intrusive "r".)
    I'm not sure how it makes matters worse:cool:.
    :thumbsup:
    So "It's a lore unto itself" and "It's a law unto itself" would sound very similar if an r intruded. In such a case, it's possible that those who normally use an intrusive r might leave it out for the law version :D
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    I think that's pretty unlikely, Julian:(.
    .
    If you're an intrusive-r user, you're an intrusive-r user....
     

    SuprunP

    Senior Member
    Ukrainian & Russian
    Others, like me, can't - or at least not without a lot of embarrassment.
    I would hazard a guess that a Sussex accent has intrusive 'R' as its feature. If this is the case, how would you 'deal' with the following sentence, would you pronounce all Rs or leave some of them out (in other words - would it be hard to pronounce them strung out like this):

    These are[r] outward projections of their[r] inner[r] identities.

    Thanks.
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    How are those examples of instances of 'intrusive' rs? They are 'linking' rs, and not restricted to the Sussex accent. I have linking rs. I have some 'intrusive' rs, and would say 'India(r)and China' and sometimes 'law(r)and order'.

    Apart from spelling out the word, I might also paraphase what I mean. If you don't know whether I mean formally or formerly, I might say 'in formal style' or 'previously'. I wouldn't add /r/.
    But if you have picked up some rhoticity and are sensitive to ambiguities (like a friend of mine, ahem:)) , you might.
    There are partially rhotic speakers - they are different from definitely non-rhotic speakers like me!
     

    SuprunP

    Senior Member
    Ukrainian & Russian
    They are 'linking' rs
    Indeed they are, my bad. Although as a non-phonetician and for 'less technical purposes' (as I believe my question was), I think I'm sometimes allowed to make that mistake of not being able to distinguish between 'fea[r] of' and 'idea[r] of' (unless these Rs are phonetically distinct) :)
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    I would hazard a guess that a Sussex accent has intrusive 'R' as its feature. If this is the case, how would you 'deal' with the following sentence, would you pronounce all Rs or leave some of them out (in other words - would it be hard to pronounce them strung out like this):

    These are[r] outward projections of their[r] inner[r] identities.

    Thanks.
    As nat says. I'd have no trouble saying your sentence, but the single word "lore" with an r sound and no vowel following it is a little difficult for me. I don't say "lore 'n order" either.
     
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