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Having trouble with r, and h/ĥ?

by kittykmae, October 19, 2005

Messages: 23

Language: English

awake (User's profile) November 6, 2006, 2:24:04 AM

I've been very interested in learning how to pronounce a rolled r, here are a few things I've learned that seem to help. There were two exercises in particular that helped me the most.

The main difficulty was in learning how to feel what I was doing. I paid a lot of attention to the touch sensation in my mouth (and particularly from my tongue) as I experimented with different things.

The first drill was to press my lips together and make a motorcycle sound by blowing across them, causing them to flap. This wasn't so much a drill as a self-demonstration. It anchored into my mind the physical feeling of the sort of vibration I want my tongue to do, as it makes the r sound by making a similar flapping while pressed against the roof of the mouth as air is blown across it. of course, lips flap much faster than the tongue can, but it at least gave me context.

The next thing, which actually was a drill, established the location of where the tongue is to tap/flap. I said the phrase "I edited it edited it edited it..." over and and over. where the tongue taps on the syllable stresses is where the tongue needs to flap against. Next I eliminated all the sounds except the duh duh duh duh ... duh duh duh duh...etc....and worked to be able to make that sound by very lightly pressing my tongue to that spot of contact and blowing across the top of it

Now, to get the r sound, you want the air to flow over the center of the tongue not the edges. so I focused on curling my tongue around the axis pointing towards the back of my throat. Some people can actually curl their tongue that way until it is canoe shaped, but alas I cannot (that ability is genetic btw...which may explain why some people have more trouble than others with the sound). The idea was to channel the air over the center of my tongue. I don't actually know if I am able to actually curl my tongue that way at all or not, but just trying to seems to help make the sound. ridulo.gif Of course, the tongue has to be relaxed in order to flap too.

The final step was to make those mouth motions, but to voice it as an r sound rather than a d sound. It took a little practice, but It actually wasnt too hard.

Now I can "sort-of" do it. but let me explain that qualifyer. I wanted to be able to do a fully rolled r as well as the 1 - 2 tap esperanto r.

1) I can trill my r's, no doubt. However. I'm not totally satisfied with the speed of my taps. I can get about 3-4 taps per second. It seems to me that some native spanish (and other) speakers seem to get that many taps in about half a second. I need to make some recordings of myself so that I can be more objective in my evaluation though. Dividing my attention between listening and actually making the sound might not be the best way. I might be being overly critical of myself. In any case, I *think* that increasing the speed it's simply a matter of increasing the air flow (without increasing the volume which is tricky) and relaxing my tongue more. Easier said than done. but maybe with a lot of practice...

2) It's not just about being able to do it in a vacuum. you have to have the coordination to move your tongue INTO the proper position. Consider the sounds KR and TR. At the conclusion of the making of the K and T sounds, the tongue is in a different position. One has to reposition it to make the Rolled R sound, and that has to be done perfectly fluidly and very rapidly. It's not just 1 sound you have to learn. It may have taken a long time to learn, but now the rolled r sound is easy for me; I can make it all day long if I want. It's putting it into speech that's hard. Every possible combinations with the Rolled R sound and some other letter (both in front of and behind it) requires completely different coordination. Some combinations are effortless for me now. Others I still can't do. KR was particularly hard for me but I've made a lot of progress, TR is still darn near impossible (still I stumble into it sometimes...just wish I could do it at will). (And Zeus Help me if a word has two rolled r sounds in it, lol).

Also, it's very difficult for me to make any rolled r sound (even by itself) if I'm doing it cold. Sometimes I can do it, other times not. However, If I practice it for couple of minutes, then I can use it in speech much more easily. Native speakers don't need warm ups, I still do. ridulo.gif

Anyway, for me it's a work in progress, but I thought some of that might be useful to someone.

erinja (User's profile) November 6, 2006, 2:49:03 AM

1) I can trill my r's, no doubt. However. I'm not totally satisfied with the speed of my taps. I can get about 3-4 taps per second.
Not to speak for Spanish or anything - but as far as Esperanto is concerned, I wouldn't worry about how many taps per second you can get. You only really need one tap, period, in 90% of cases (the exception is when you have a compound word that has two r's in a row, and you might need to hold the r for more than one tap)

Corvus Corax (User's profile) November 7, 2006, 7:56:24 AM

boy-o:I'm making a complete guess on this (though it is an educated guess) but I suppose this trend is being promulgated by the asian esperanto movement for the reason of i am unaware of any asian language that has that sound.
Vietnamese has the ĥ sound occuring word-initially, and as far as I know, Chinese has that sound too. Isn't China the country that homes the majority of asian Esperanto speakers?

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