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[R] is so different! I have deep linguistic question about this lettr not just in French but also in German, Spanish and English. Sound [R] exists in all of above languages but it is very different in each of them. How it developed historical that it came to be that different? Was English [r] different before? For example, may be in 14th century it sounded like French one? Don`t hesitate to give me Internet links about this, I just couldn`t find this. I`m interested mostly in fact if English [r] sounded like German or French one before, and then changed? I hope my question is clear:) Thanks
Jan 23, 2012 4:35 PM
Answers · 11
You made me curious as well. Part of the issue is that even among native English speakers, the pronunciation of R varies widely. A quick search of English R pronunciation on youtube turns up several different ways of pronouncing R, all by American speakers. The Irish, British, Australian, etc Rs are distinctly different as well. The Old English R was trilled: You'll hear the Old English R at the very end of this video, in the very last phrase: I'm not sure exactly what happened in the development of the English Rs, but I guess there was some influence from the continent (mostly from French speakers) so the trilled/rolled R mutated, softened, and became the liquid consonant that is used today (in its varying forms). Compare the first two R examples on this page and you'll hear how the second sounds like a lazy attempt at the first: (Even then, I don't pronounce my standard R in that way.) I think the habit of "dropping" the R at the end of a syllable, as found in a number of British dialects (plus standard British English) as well as in Australian English, comes from the French and German Rs. English speakers probably found the throaty fricative R too rough and softened it until it became almost invisible. Standard British pronunciations of words like "beer" and "fear" will give you an idea of where that final R went. Hope that helps a bit.
January 23, 2012
A very interesting question. You could probably find a lot of informative websites by googling “rhotic consonants” or “rhotic and non-rhotic accents,” or maybe “guttural R.” Wikipedia has a number of articles of general information on the subject of phonology
January 24, 2012
Good question! In the year 1066 the French invaded England and killed King Harold and for the next 300 years everybody in England spoke French and the official documents were written in Latin. King Henry I became king in English but the language had been transformed by then with a lot of French words and ways to pronounce words.
January 23, 2012
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