The Letter R

Discussion in 'All Languages' started by Phase44, Dec 16, 2012.

  1. Phase44 New Member

    Dallas/Fort Worth Region, Texas, USA
    English- Standard American
    I am brand new to the forums, so I hope it's not to abrasive to just kind of burst on the forums like this.
    Now, off to the main point.

    I am moving to either the Netherlands or Germany, depending on where my parent's work move them. Either way, I will be so close to the German/Dutch border that it would be best for me to learn both. I was recommended to start with German. I was in my German classes with my brother when I was introduced to the German R, and therefore introduced to the fact that there are different ways to pronounce and say r. This absolutely fascinated me and is the reason why I am so interested in Phonetics and Linguistics now.

    I noticed that I say my r, is that I basically make the h sound while at the same time moving my tongue to the back of my mouth (I believe it is called retroflex) and lowering my jaw. I asked my brother how he says his r's, and he said that he pushes his tongue against the back of his bottom teeth, blows air out, and lowers his jaw. I noticed that while we say our r's completely different, there is no distinction between the sounds of our r's. I also realized, that when I am speaking Spanish (I live in Texas and my school requires me to learn it.), I say my r by tapping it against the roof of my mouth, and that I cannot properly roll my r as I once thought I could. I instead make the r sound as I do with Spanish, and then roll it down the back of my top teeth and end in either a slight d sound or a slight th sound. (So my rolled r is a mix of r/d/l/ and th). This absolutely fascinates me!

    So, from those realizations, I have several questions.
    1. What would be the proper Phonetic or Linguistic term for the kind of r I say, and the kind of r my brother says?
    2. Since we both speak English natively, and we say r differently...who is using the proper English r? And is there even a proper English r?
    3. Is the way I roll my r correct, or should I improve on trying to get the trill right? (I do have a slight tongue tie by the way.)
    4. What are the other ways to say r, and which languages use said ways?
    5. How can me and my brother improve the way we say the letter r to help say r the German way?

    Thank you in advanced. I really hope to become an active member on these forums and expand my Linguistic and Phonetical knowledge!

    P.S. When I say "the way (insert name/pronoun) says/say r" I mean the way the tongue, mouth, and jaw are moved/used and the force of air used. I also want to say again, I cannot tell the difference between my brother's r, or anybody else's r, and mine.
  2. merquiades

    merquiades Senior Member

    USA Northeast
    For German R you have this site. Then click on "frikative" then "uvular [ʁ]" and you have practice. I think from what you say, your brother has it right.

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