Monday, February 23, 2015

Musings: I Finally Learned to Roll my Rs

In Spanish
What a relief and what an eye opener. Around this time last year, I was making a guttural, throaty sounding "R" when trying to pronounce Spanish words like caro, roja, and just about anything with an R in it. Half a year ago was when I finally sat down and decided that I couldn't go much further in learning Spanish until I had it nailed down. Thank goodness for YouTube and alone time. I finally think I have it down.

In French too?
It's funny because I've been learning French since around grade five and listening to it for over two decades on TV and in person. On top of that, a French language learning program didn't even make it apparent. I didn't notice that French had a similar pronunciation involving the rolling R sound. Looking back, there was one moment in elementary school that pops up when my French teacher talked about the trill sound. That made no sense to me back then. No more will I screw up words like "Marion" or "arreter." When I finally got it down, other realizations started pouring in.

I missed it in English?
Even worse was when I realized that English uses the same pronunciation of the rolling R in certain accents. Being an American, "neutral" (e.g. not Boston, New York, Texas) accented English speaker meant that I never had to use that sound -- unless I missed something over the past three decades. My pronunciation of R is made with a kissy face or mouth.

I noticed it in accents from the United Kingdom, mainly the Scottish variety. Even more specifically, it was someone from Edinburgh that made me notice the most. Someone from Inverness and another from Glasgow actually didn't call attention to it for me. It was always a mystery why the pronunciation of words like "American" and "great" seemed so different. And so ends the mystery.

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