The famous "R" consonant !!

Discussion in 'Grammar & Pronunciation' started by Winter, Sep 24, 2004.

  1. Winter

    Winter Member

    .....thanks Jana for these wild tongue twisters! My tongue will def be in knots when I am thru trying these out.... :D

    ....I remember when "Strc prst skrz krk" was a tough one to say. That one now seems easy. ( means: push the finger thru the neck).

  2. Jeff

    Jeff Well-Known Member

  3. Ceit

    Ceit Well-Known Member

    It may be kind of silly to resurrect the topic from several posts and many months ago, but LY is not the standard pronunciation of the Spanish character ll. According to the Dictionary of the Real Academia Española and the María Moliner (a well known usage dictionary), the sound is a voiced palatal lateral. Spoken properly, it's something like a forceful, wet English j. The pronunciation like English y is also recognized, although not recommended for instruction by the Real Academia. The Manual de Pronunciación Española blames English and German attempts to reproduce the sound for the "deficient" LY pronunciation. Every (native) Spanish speaker I've ever heard speak either uses the y or a near English j - oh, except Argentinians, but Argentina's special. :lol:
  4. Qcumber

    Qcumber Well-Known Member

    "LL. f. [...] representa un solo sonido , cuya articulación tradicional es palatal, lateral, fricativa y sonora, con contacto más o menos amplio y tenso de la lengua con el paladar. En gran parte de los paises y regions hispánicos se pronuncia como y, con salida central del aire, y con las mismas variedades de articulación que la y. [...]" Real Academia Español, 1992

    In simple terms, if you cannot pronounce LL as [ʎ] or [lj], just drop the [l] and pronounce it [j] as do many hispanophones. :)
  5. Sova

    Sova Well-Known Member


    I have to agree with Ceit. The quote you posted indicates "y" as one appropriate pronunciation of the Spanish "ll" but gives no credence to the "ly" [lj] that you insist on. I am familiar with dialects from Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Panama, Puerto Rico, Honduras, Nicaragua, Venezuela, and Spain (Madrid and Barcelona), yet have never heard "ll" pronounced as "ly." Could you explain to me where the dialect with the "standard" pronunciation you quote as "ly" originates?
  6. Qcumber

    Qcumber Well-Known Member

    Sova, just in Spain, not in the New World.
    A word like _calle_ "street" is officially pronounced ['ka ʎe], but many speakers pronounce it ['ka je].

    I agree that [lj] is an approximation produced by foreigners like me. It is close enough to the genuine Spanish phone to ensure a clear communication.

    Anyway this topic is really a minor one as it has nothing to do with the Czech language.

    PS. I have finally found the correct phonetic symbol [ʎ] for the voiced palatal lateral approximant represented by LL in Spanish spelling, and corrected some of my previous posts accordingly.
  7. Ceit

    Ceit Well-Known Member

    P.S. Traditionally the phonetic symbol [ƛ] is just a y upside down. I don't know why they have added a bar to it in the Microsoft collection.[/quote]

    Bah, it's Microsoft, they probably have it copyrighted.

    Qcumber, when you write LY, do you really mean that the two sounds follow each other? I think Portuguese does have that particular sound, at least from what I've heard on TV, and it's not something any Spanish speaker ever gets out. Although...maybe in Galicia. I didn't hear it in my (1 day) trip to Compostela, but maybe in smaller towns or nearer to Portugal...

    Anyway, you're right that Spanish pronunciation has little to do with Czech pronunciation, it's just the parallel of two language specific phonemes that cause trouble for foreign learners (and I think you introduced the topic :D ). Are the ll and the ř really combinations of sound or two sounds just set real close together? I'll just add this: when I was taking a Czech class, and the prof wanted to be sure that we knew there was a ř in a word, she emphasized it with an rrrrrr before adding the ž. The ž didn't come on its own, it was added to the r. She never defined the sound as a combination though, she told us it was the trilled r, said through the teeth, with the lips slightly rounded. Not hard for beginners to keep track of at all :lol:
  8. Qcumber

    Qcumber Well-Known Member

    Ceit, what you say about how your instructor teaches your class the Czech Ř is illuminating.

    This is my position.

    You may have noticed that when one learns a foreign language there may be new consonants that are perceived as combinations of consonants the learner already knows in his own language.

    Every average Frenchman like me will perceive the Spanish LL [ʎ] as [lj], and will only master the correct pronunciation as a single phone after a lot of training. (I was told to lower the tip of my tongue so that it shouldn't touch the ridge of my gums.)

    By the way, in French [lj] is uttered as a single sound to the extent that in poetry, if an extra syllable is needed, diaeresis takes place, and a word like lia [lja] "(he) bound" will be pronounced [li'ja].

    The Czech Ř [ŗ] - I am not sure this is the correct phonetic symbol - is perceived by us French people as [rƷ], and it takes a good deal of time to utter the two sounds as a single one, but, pending this achievement, Czech people seem to accept this equivalent as passable. The only big mistake is to pronounce Ř like R.

    The problem must be rather difficult to solve if you consider that the English J is transcribed as [dƷ] by the International Phonetic Association, yet, seen from the British side of the Channel, J is deemed to be uttered as a single sound, not as a sequence of two sounds. What is curious is that the IPA (now mainly run by British and US scholars) has not created a symbol for this.

    P.S.1. My caretaker happens to be a Portuguese. For her, Portuguese LH equals Spanish LL equals French LI. Ditto with Portuguese NH = Spanish Ñ = French GN (pronounced [nj]). She doesn't perceive any marked difference among the three languages regarding these sounds, and is aware that LL is often pronounced [j].

    P.S.2. Yes, I confess I am the one who launched the LL topic within the Ř one. I am an inveterate chatterbox.
  9. Ceit

    Ceit Well-Known Member

    Heh heh wonder you're interested in so many and such different languages. :lol:
  10. Qcumber

    Qcumber Well-Known Member

    By the way, did you notice that R + J > Ř, e.g. hora > *horje > hoře "mountain (nominative > dative/locative)?
    According to the same phonetic law, K + J > C, D + J > Ď [dj], etc.
  11. mravenec

    mravenec Well-Known Member

    hmm, i'll have too read all earlier posts in this thread, but i suppose you know that the Czech ř /ɼ/ was originally (in the middle ages) a palatalised r [rʲ]. Anyhow, ř is never a r followed by a fricative, but always a trilled fricative even if the trill sometimes starts shortly before the fricative trill.
  12. Qcumber

    Qcumber Well-Known Member

    Interesting. No, I didn't know that, Mravenec. Thanks a lot for the information.

    So, if I understand you well, /r/ + /i/ > [rj] > [rʲ] in the Middle-Ages, then the sound evolved into today's ř [ɼ], but the morphology still behaves according to the rules that existed before this sound change. I mean the Czech brain strings the morphemes then processes them into a word, and applies to the utterance of the word rules from another system. I hope what I saying is not too silly. If it is, just forget it.

    This is true in many languages, but this instance of Czech hora > *horje > hoře "mountain (nominative > dative/locative) is particularly striking.
  13. mravenec

    mravenec Well-Known Member

    I don't know about Czech brains, but yes, it seems ř orthographically behaves as would it be a palatal (ie like ď or ň) most of the time. (if this is what you meant)
  14. Qcumber

    Qcumber Well-Known Member

    Yes, in a way, yes.
    By the way, I didn't say "Czech brains", but "the Czech brain", i.e. the linguistic processor that deals with the Czech language.
  15. Winter

    Winter Member

    Wow, I was very surpised and happy to see that this thread is still alive after all these many months! I am guilty, I started this thread. :D

    Mravenec.... you made a very interesting point: the "R" with the hook being pronounced as a "trilled fricative." That seems to be a perfect description to me; I have never heard of it being described like that ever. Over the years, here and there, most Czech books give a incorrect or unuseable/useless attempt at how to pronounce this consonant. And so many Czech speakers speak so fast, it becomes futile for the learner to learn the pronounciation of the "R" with hook in that way, also.

    One last comment: I read somewhere, a while ago, that many native Czech speakers are "puzzled" that foreigners (non-Czechs) have so much difficulty with this consonant ?! Do you native Czech speakers agree with this? Interesting.

    It took me a long time to learn how to pronounce this consonant correctly... but it was well worth the "challenge!"
  16. REQ

    REQ Member

    Hello everybody!
    I have just joined this board, and have been studying the Czech language for about one month, basically by myself.
    I have read through this very interesing thread, and want to make an observation that noone has brought up yet.
    I am a native Spanish speaker from south America, and after my -very brief yet- exposure to Czech, I have found that the "r" with a hacheck (sp?) sounds extremely close to the standard "r" sound (r at the beginning of words, or rr in the middle of a word before a vowel), as pronounced by many people in a region covering from the southern part of Colombia, including Ecuador, some areas of Peru, almost all Bolivia, and probably the northern part of Argentina (close to the Bolivian border). I would like to hear comments on this, especially as I can see that there are some Spanish speaking people on this board.
    Best regards, and I look forward to asking questions as I progress in my studying of Czech.
  17. Qcumber

    Qcumber Well-Known Member

    What you say is exciting, REQ.

    Is it in these areas that people pronounce <ll> /dʒ/? For instance, would their pronunciation of <llorar” “to cry” be represented as <džořar> with the Czech alphabet?
  18. Ceit

    Ceit Well-Known Member

    How interesting. I've never noticed that particular pronunciation, but then I don't know that many South Americans. And maybe my acquaintances are from the wrong areas. Do you think it's influence from indigenous languages that causes r to morph into ř?

    I recently read a short article on the Czech language in which the author claimed that Czech is the only language in the world that has this particular phoneme. Wouldn't Polish and Slovak, especially Slovak, have it too? Doesn't that rz in Polish represent the same sound as ř in Czech?
  19. wer

    wer Well-Known Member

  20. REQ

    REQ Member

    Qcumber said:

    "What you say is exciting, REQ.

    Is it in these areas that people pronounce <ll> /dʒ/? For instance, would their pronunciation of <llorar” “to cry” be represented as <džořar> with the Czech alphabet?"

    Hello Qcumber.
    I am not a linguist, so I really cannot make a comment on your question. But from personal experience, I can say that in the region in Colombia where I come from (I am from Medellin, and I am talking about the provinces of Antioquia, Caldas, Risaralda and Quindio), we pronounce all our "ll"s and "y"s as the English sound "j". In many parts of Argentina and Uruguay, and especially in Buenos Aires and Montevideo, they pronounce these as the English "sh". That is all I can say regarding this subject.

    Hello Ceit.
    Regarding your question, I cannot make an informed guess, but form what I do know, these areas that I mentioned, are the most heavily populated with Quechua speaking people, so in that light, your comment would make a lot of sense.

    Regarding the other comment, about Czech being the only language with that sound, it could be right, I don't know. But, it would sound quite arrogant to me, as we all come from the same "monkey" (i.e. we are not Neanderthal or a mixture), so we all basicaly have the same ability to make the same sounds. With the language numbers counting in the thousands, I wouldn't be too quick to make such a statement. But then again, I don't know.


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