The famous "R" consonant !!

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

  1. Usal

    Usal Well-Known Member

    Ahoj everyone, I was on the Radio Prague site and they have a program called "ABC of Czech and give insight and short lessons on the Czech Language. If you go here they discuss the ř consonant at the end of the program. It is also available as a audio file you can play and listen to. I don't know if it will help anyone in pronounciation but it is worth a try.

  2. Qcumber

    Qcumber Well-Known Member

    Thanks a lot, REQ.
    What about my representation of your pronunciation of <llorar> with the Czech alphabet: <džořar> ? Is it correct?
    As you know <dž> corresponds to the English <j>, and you said the initial <r > in the American countries you named was pronounced like the Czech <ř>.
  3. Ceit

    Ceit Well-Known Member

    Heh, shows what I know. Informative links, wer, thanks. :D

    REQ's comment about all of us coming from the same source reminded me of something I heard years ago. To paraphrase: childhood is as much a time of forgetting as learning, at least when it comes to languages. Nearly all of us are born with the potential to produce every sound in every human language, but we only learn the phoneme set from our native language, and when, later on, we try to learn another set, we often struggle mightily. :cry: I think the comment originally came from Bill Bryson. Or it might have been Pete Seeger.
  4. Qcumber

    Qcumber Well-Known Member

    With the qualification, however, that a human is conditioned to their mother's language when they are in her womb. So, when we are born, were are not virgins, linguistically speaking. :)
  5. REQ

    REQ Member

    "What about my representation of your pronunciation of <llorar> with the Czech alphabet: <džořar> ? Is it correct?
    As you know <dž> corresponds to the English <j>, and you said the initial <r > in the American countries you named was pronounced like the Czech <ř>."

    I am really not very qualified to judge your statement, as I know well only the pronunciation of my particular region, but I can certainly say that in "standard Spanish", if such a beast exists, the first "r" in "llorar" wouldn't be pronounced as you state, because it is a soft "r", more like the first "r" in "bratr". The final "r" in llorar, might however be pronounced like the "r" with the hacheck, in the regions I mentioned in my first post. Sorry if I am not of much help with your question.

  6. Qcumber

    Qcumber Well-Known Member

    Even if you are not a linguist, REQ, you are very helpful and patient, and you know what you are talking about. I am very grateful for your answers.

    We are not talking about standard Spanish, as spoken in Spain, but about the variety of Spanish you mentioned.

    From what you've just said, my representation of the pronunciation of <llorar> in these dialects should be: <džorař>.
  7. REQ

    REQ Member


    I would say you are right this time. At least to my -not so good- ears.

  8. TitTornade

    TitTornade New Member

    Is there any similarity between czech "r with hacek" and chinese retroflex consonants ? (as in "ren" = "people", "person")

    This topic is very interesting, but I think it is too late for me to learn to pronounce "r with hacek". Even if I will go to Prague next week ! I should have learn when I was a very young child...

    By, the way, I think each language has its particularity in prononciation... And I think that, if you're not a native speaker, it is very difficult too pronounce a language correctly. The only solution is to live in the country and to talk with the native speakers for a very very long time...

    For my part, even if I can understand English (I'm French) : I will never be able to say English "th" or English "r" or English "l" or English vowels... I will always have a French accent... I'm not inhibited with it ! I tried : hearing / repeating, IPA (postion of tongue... etc...) : nothing changed. So I don't focus on "r with hacek" ! As soon as I was adolescent, I lose my ability to learn any other language phonetics than French... That's all...

    I can remember a vietnamese friend who lived in France during about 20 years : she could never say the group "gr", though we invented a sentence in French that contained several words with "gr"...
  9. Ladis

    Ladis Well-Known Member

    For me, English "th" in the word "three" is a problem, too :). BTW I don't understand, what's difficult on English vowels [​IMG].
  10. Qcumber

    Qcumber Well-Known Member

    To me the Chinese /r/ as in _rén_ "human" is closer to Czech ž /ʒ/ than to Czech ř /ɼ/ ≈ /rʒ/.
  11. Zeisig

    Zeisig Well-Known Member

    The normalized Czech transcription of the Chinese pinyin r is ž (not ř).

    Žen-min ž'-pao (人民日报 - Rénmín Ribao) = People's Daily News
  12. Zeisig

    Zeisig Well-Known Member

    It is interesting that the Chinese script is displayed correctly but the vowels with accentus gravis give something like R&igrave;b&agrave;o.
  13. Ceit

    Ceit Well-Known Member

    I think the difficulty is that there's so goldurn many of 'em, and they aren't quite like French vowels (or Spanish, or German, or Czech, etc.) Vowels are also slippery little devils that are hard to "feel" correctly when you try to reproduce them, unless you're very talented. Some people live for years in a country, speak the language perfectly, but never lose the foreign accent; my great-grandfather lived in the US for more than 60 years, spoke English perfectly regarding vocabulary and grammar, and had a strong Czech accent until the day he died.
    It seems like the Germanic languages are more vowel-rich than Romance or Slavic languages, which seem to have around 10 total vowel sounds. Of course, I haven't studied every Romance or Slavic language, so if I'm mistaken, feel free to sternly correct me :D . Standard American English has 17 vowels and British several more. They have more diphthongs over there since they don't pronounce the "r". I have debates with my boyfriend about the very existance of some of these vowels, the latest one being the difference between hat, hot, and hut. Native speakers here the difference clearly, but since not one of those vowels exists in Spanish (Standard Castillian anyway) it's hard for a Spanish speaker to even hear the difference, let alone reproduce it when speaking. I imagine, although I'm not sure, that the problem is similar for French speakers (TitTornade, Qcumber, can you confirm?), and Czech speakers as well.
  14. Qcumber

    Qcumber Well-Known Member

    Oh, so, this is official! Thank you, Zeisig. I always thought it was like the French <j> /ʒ/, but was so often told I was wrong that I ended up doubting it, and concluded it was close to it, but not exactly it.

    By the way, I know that in colloquial Pekinese they have a final /r/, e.g. huà-r "picture" = official Chinese huà-xiàng. To me this final /r/ sounds a bit like the American-English /r/. Is my impression right?
  15. Qcumber

    Qcumber Well-Known Member

    á : <a> acute accent
    à : <a> grave accent
    â : <a> circumflex accent

    In Rénmín Rìbào "Popular Daily (newpaper)" the accents are
    acute-acute grave-grave and the tones they represent are
    rising-rising falling-falling.
  16. Qcumber

    Qcumber Well-Known Member

    Ceit, Romance languages basically have five vowels: /i/, /e/, /a/, /o/, /u/. These are canonic vowels, i.e. reference vowels for all the languages of the world.

    French is an exception with its 16 (sixteen) vowels, and this is probably due to the Celtic substrate and the influence of the Germanic language spoken by our Frankish ancestors.

    As regards the flat "a" as in English _hut_, represented in phonetics by a small capital A deprived of its bar : /ʌ/, we don't have it in French, but by replacing it but the neutral "grave" <a> of _part_ "part", the utterance is acceptable. The utterance is wrong if we replace it by the "acute" <a> of _chat_ "cat".

    Whatever, the problem for English-speakers learning French and French speakers learning English is that the points of articulations of the vowels of one set are not far enough from those in the other set to make them contrast easily.

    Besides, to Romance language speakers, English vowels sound nebulous and unstable, not sharp, clear and stable as in our languages, hence the fact that a Romance language speaker is generally not at ease at all in the English vocalic system. :)
  17. Zeisig

    Zeisig Well-Known Member

    I don't know what you see. But I see:

    in my post: Rénmín R & igrave ; b & agrave ; o

    in Qcumber's post: Rénmín R`ib`ao (but correctly, the vowels+accents together, I cannot simulate it)

    Something is wrong with my Windows 2000.
  18. Qcumber

    Qcumber Well-Known Member

    Zeisig, I just wanted to recall the names of the accents in English, but obviously there are problems on your side when you want to post these accented letters.
  19. Zeisig

    Zeisig Well-Known Member

    I think the names of the accents are not English, but Latin (calques from Greek). 8)

    accentus acutus (přízvuk ostrý)
    accentus gravis (přízvuk těžký)
    accentus circumflexus (přízvuk průtažný)

    The problem, I have, is only with the sepulchre accents.

    (BTW, grave/Grab is hrob in Czech)
  20. Sova

    Sova Well-Known Member

    Very few non-native speakers of English get all the English vowels sounds correct. In addition to those that Ceit mentioned ["a" in "hat," "o" in "hot," and "u" in "hut"], I'd add "i" in "hit," "oo" in "foot." There are many sounds in American English which can be well-approximated by dipthongs of foreign vowel sounds (e.g. in "hope," "o" = "o+u" in Czech). While these sounds are readily pronouncable by most foreigners, most still don't get the sounds right in practice.

    The "th" combination is another problem. We actually have both voiced (e.g. "this") and unvoiced (e.g. "these").

    As for myself, I still have trouble with the French and German "r," the Russian "ы," and anything with the Vietnamese gutteral tone. Most other sounds I've come across I've been able to duplicate pretty well after a little practice.

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