'steer clear of' - pronunciation R (BrE)

dreamlike

Senior Member
Polish
Hi everyone,

I was wondering how do you tend to pronounce phrases such as 'steer clear of', where there are two words at the end of each one could either pronounce the optional / r/or not. I must say the following pronunciation:

stɪə klɪə ɒv


sounds somewhat
funny to my ears, most likely because the words end with the diphthong 'ɪə'. I'd expect the /r/ to be included, even by those who don't normally pronounce it at the end of words. And how does it work in practice?
 
  • Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Hi dreamlike

    In your phrase, non-rhotic speakers wouldn't pronounce the 'r' at the end of steer because it's followed by a consonant sound; they may well, however, pronounce the 'r' at the end of clear, as it's followed by a vowel. (This is the so-called "linking r".)

    You may like to look at this previous thread: England Native Speakers --> Should I pronounce "r" ...?
     

    dreamlike

    Senior Member
    Polish
    Thanks for taking the time to answer. It's clear now.

    Am I alone in thinking that not pronouncing the 'r' at the end of the word clear makes the whole phrase sound a tiny bit off? This might very well be just me.
     
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    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Well, I would certainly pronounce it, myself. I'd say that 'steer clear of' falls into the category of "common expressions usually uttered with rhythmic integration" mentioned in the advice I quoted in the other thread:
    [...] Looking back at RedRaiN's specific question about what he, as a student of English, should do, the only advice I've found so far is this:
    Omission of linking / r / is in many cases quite "optional" but its absence from common expressions usually uttered with close rhythmic integration can sound quite strange. So EFL users are best advised to cultivate it in eg phrases such as our own, or else, better and better, later on, far off, other end, pair of etc.
    (source) [...]
     

    dreamlike

    Senior Member
    Polish
    Thanks, that's an interesting finding. I, too, would encourage the inclusion of linkig /r/, but I'm not objective -- I like the sound of it. :D

    In any case, I was wondering what non-rhotic speakers have to say about that, and what they do, because I take it that you aren't one, Loob.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    I am a non-rhotic speaker - though I come originally from a rhotic part of the country:).
     

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    In your phrase, non-rhotic speakers wouldn't pronounce the 'r' at the end of steer because it's followed by a consonant sound; they may well, however, pronounce the 'r' at the end of clear, as it's followed by a vowel.
    I'm non-rhotic and that's exactly what I'd do. I positively can't pronounce clear of without the linking r.
     

    dreamlike

    Senior Member
    Polish
    I sound the "R" at the end of "clear", not because I like the sound of it, but because the alternative is a glottal stop which takes more effort.
    How very interesting. It's different with me, as a non-native speaker. It is actually far more difficult me to produce a natural-souding rhotic /r/, than to make a glottal stop.
     
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    wandle

    Senior Member
    English - British
    Having been brought up in England by Scottish and Irish parents, the compromise I arrived at was that I would always try to pronounce the 'r' (for the deeper sense of authenticity), but not to overdo it (for the sake of conformity).
    In the present case, I pronounce both final 'r's, but the second more strongly than the first.
     
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    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    As a non-rhotic speaker, I would pronounce the /r/ there. The general rule has been given by Loob. If the next sound is a consonant or if there is a gap, don't pronounce the /r/. Otherwise, pronounce it. As the next sound is a vowel, the /r/ is pronounced. You called this a rhotic /r/. I don't think this is a rhotic /r/. If you pronounced the <r> in steer, that would be a rhotic /r/.
     
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    dreamlike

    Senior Member
    Polish
    I'm not exactly conversant with all those phonetic terms, so you probably have a point, Natkretep. I guess linking /r/ would be a more apt name, wouldn't it... But can't a linking /r/ be a rhotic one, at the same time?
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    Maybe there's a difference in terminology. I understand rhotic /r/ to mean the /r/ pronounced by rhotic speakers and not by non-rhotic speakers. Yes, I'd be happy with linking /r/.

    Nat
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Dreamlike, if you're finding the linking 'r' in 'clear of' difficult, maybe this tip will help: think of it as one word, not two -/klɪərəv/ :).
     

    dreamlike

    Senior Member
    Polish
    Maybe there's a difference in terminology. I understand rhotic /r/ to mean the /r/ pronounced by rhotic speakers and not by non-rhotic speakers. Yes, I'd be happy with linking /r/.

    Nat
    Well, having given it some thought, just because the /r/ and the end of /clear/ would be produced by non-native speakers as well, in phrases such as 'steer clear of', doesn't automatically make it non-rhotic /r/. That's just terminology issue, though, let's not bother ourselves too much with this.

    Dreamlike, if you're finding the linking 'r' in 'clear of' difficult, maybe this tip will help: think of it as one word, not two -/klɪərəv/ :).
    Thanks! :) How prominent is your /r/ in /klɪərəv, by the way? Is it barely audible or quite prominent? (like in some Scottish accents).
     
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