Talk:Guttural R

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Unfaithfulness of Jackson's movie[edit]

It's unfair to say Gandalf's trilled r is unfaithful, as tolkien merely says that uvular vs alveolar R is more a manner of the race of the person speaking it, rather than the language being spoken. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) 11:55, 22 July 2004 (UTC)

You raise a good point. I'll try to change the wording of the paragraph, or consider its removal. - Gilgamesh 11:15, 22 July 2004 (UTC)


It would be nice to have some sound files containing examples of the uvular R ... --zeno 15:08, 6 Mar 2005 (UTC)


A user in Category talk:Uvular R pointed out that one of the guttural Rs (in Brazilian Portuguese) isn't even uvular. Would it be better to rename this to Guttural R? - Gilgamesh 01:16, 9 May 2005 (UTC)

Is Category:Uvular R necessary?[edit]

This category strikes me as quite superfluous. It's intended to be phonetic, but it doesn't describe just one particular sound, but rather four (and one of those isn't even uvular!) which is really just a feature of orthography. It's basically Western European language cruft, since this is nothing particularly unique and really not more interesting than any other any other sounds of language.

Couldn't we just settle for listing of the articles where this is featured in uvular R instead? What's to stop people from adding a seperate category for every imaginable layman's term for sounds?

Peter Isotalo 12:24, May 8, 2005 (UTC)

This category exists because it's a remarkable linguistic phenomenon that continues to influence European and Middle Eastern linguistics to this day. The alveolar and uvular R are phonetically in very distant parts of the throat, and the difference between them has even influenced cultural politics. They most certainly are more than phonetic differences, but a study in culture itself. - Gilgamesh 01:12, 9 May 2005 (UTC)

There are at least a dozen different realizations of /r/ (or one os the allophones) in many different languages, and they are not at all restricted to just the alveolar/uvular dichotomy. There are a whole slew of approximants, including [l], [w], [ɹ] andd [ɻ] as well as taps and flaps ([ɾ], [ɽ], which can be said to be just as unique as the uvular realizations. There are even vowel realizations, like the rhotic vowels in American English ("fur", "father") or the [ɐ] of northern German as ("der"). If "uvular R" is enough for a seperate category, than "approximant R", "flap and tap R" or "vowel R" is just as valid.
As for "a study of culture itself", this sounds like systematic bias even moreso than just the linguistic category of uvular R. The point is that there is little or nothing that actually connects one language or dialect featuring uvular R to another. It's a feature that has appeared in such widely different contexts without any connection to other languages that it must be considered to be something fairly universal. It is simply a perceptory feature of human linguistics that has to do with all manners of /r/-realizations and is not unique.
Peter Isotalo 06:37, May 9, 2005 (UTC)
I think you're missing the point. Alveolar and retroflex flaps, trills, approximants, etc. are all in close proximity to each other in the mouth. Guttural Rs, however, jump to the throat, a radically distant location in the mouth. This phenomenon appeared mysteriously in parts of northern Europe, and spread from there. It is not a common feature anywhere else on earth except when influenced ultimately by the original uvular R zones in European languages, chiefly northern France, northern Germany and Denmark. It is true that other languages have phonemes that correspond roughly to R or to uvular consonants, but none of them are so radical as to associate alveolar, retroflex and distant uvular Rs as different realizations of the same phoneme. If you have any more comments, I suggest we take this to Talk:Uvular R. I will copy this thread there. - Gilgamesh 08:03, 9 May 2005 (UTC)
This is not a discussion about the merits of this article, but of the category. The discussion belongs on that talk page.
Peter Isotalo 09:08, May 9, 2005 (UTC)

Comments on the uvular r[edit]

A few remarks on the "uvular r" article prompted by my ongoing research on the subject:

1) Regarding southern Sweden, it is said that "after Sweden gained control, the people of Skåne gradually began to speak Swedish, but retained their uvular Danish pronunciation". I think this misses an important point, namely that at the time of the Swedish takeover, in all likelihood both Danish and southern Swedish had an apical r. The new pronunciation in southern Sweden is no doubt due to Danish influence, but one which postdates the Swedish conquest. 2) Similarly, the mention of apical r in southern France as possibly being due to under Provençal influence is somewhat misleading -- apical r being the original one in French, it would make more sense to say that southern French has retained this. As it now stands, it gives the reader the impression that apical r has been _introduced_ due to Provençal influence. In relation to French, it might also be worth mentioning that the dialects of Acadia and Louisiana, as well as some varieties in Canada proper also retainthe apical r. 3) Less importantly, but perhaps somewhat interesting: a) uvular r nowadays exists in Breton, and b) dialects of Afrikaans around Cape Town (but not in the city itself!) also have a uvular r, for reasons yet to be determined (though _possibly_ due to Huguenot immigration in the 17th century).

As for references, I don't have them at hand when writing this, but can supply them to anyone interested.


Mikael Parkvall Department of linguistics, Stockholm University


If no one objects, I'm going to rename this to Guttural R, and the category to Category:Guttural R, seen as there are an increasing number of examples in similar regions of the throat that aren't exactly uvular. - Gilgamesh 08:49, 23 May 2005 (UTC)

This was a very inappropriate move. You're supposed to give people a reasonanle chance to object before actually moving an article. Waiting just under two hours isn't exactly giving people that chance. A week, or at least a few days, is appropriate.
And I do object, because this article is confused enough as it is. Here are my objections:
  • There are no references anywhere. Not even on the talk page.
  • The general layout and terms like "Guttural pseudo-R" are pure original research (and most of the article is getting awfully close to deserving a VfD).
  • The mention of Tolkien's constructed languages and his POV of which type of "r"-pronunciation he himself prefered does not seem to me to be in the least encyclopedic.
  • The scope of this article is simply not reasonable any more. The various realizations of /r/ or phonemes that are audibly similar to /r/ are indeed an intresting subject, but seperating the fronal realizations from the "guttural" and granting them a seperate article is not reasonable. The phonetic typology is getting more and more blurred with every new edit. It is also accompanied by the Category "Guttural R"; which if it was applied to all the appropriate languages, would probably include an unreasonably high percentage of the world's languages. This is simply not acceptable linguistic classifications of encyclopedic articles on languages and dialects.
I've put up the factual dispute-sign, and I would like all of these issues to be adressed properly before it is removed.
Peter Isotalo 13:20, May 23, 2005 (UTC)
The fact of the matter is, alveolar R and guttural consonants are not interchangeable in most of the world's languages. Go outside parts of Europe and dots of the Middle East and you just don't find it, except among colonists from those regions. Not in Siberia, not in Central Asia, not in China, not in India, not in Sub-Saharan Africa, not in the Americas. Guttural R is a rare phenomenon that only has so much notoriety because the vast majority of its users are from northern Europe. French, German, and even Portuguese are common today, but originally they were not. Guttural regions have murky but defined boundaries on the geography of parts of Europe, and the phenomenon is extremely rare among native speakers of languages outside those boundaries. Even in Portugal, for instance, guttural R is uncommon outside Lisbon. But with my communication handicap I'm not sure if I'm making enough sense here—could someone help me? - Gilgamesh 13:59, 23 May 2005 (UTC)
Also, I didn't write the entire article alone. I didn't write most of the Portuguese section, nor Arabic section. User:Mustafaa helped a great deal. - Gilgamesh 14:32, 23 May 2005 (UTC)
I do trust Mustafaa a lot in these matters, but I must point out that his edits [1] [2] have not been about these theories about pharyngeal or even glottal "r". Those ideas seem to be almost entirely your work.
I know that part of what you're saying is true, partially because I have myself read about it, and partially because Mikael seems to bring up a lot of valid points. None of it seems to be supportive of your latest claims, though. I'm a bit surprised that you all of a sudden changed the title from "uvular r" to "guttural r" (this is wording you insisted on in previous discussions). Where have you gotten these theories from if you can't show references? Have you come up with this terminology yourself? Please cite your sources or revert to material that is not verifiable.
Peter Isotalo 20:36, May 23, 2005 (UTC)
Well, Danish pharyngeal R evolved under Low German influence. That is known, though we had previously mistakenly labeled it as uvular (and made this mistake too). And Brazilian glottal R and Rio de Janeiro velar R evolved from uvular R in standard Lisbon speech. That is also known. And as for "guttural R", see guttural consonant, and it is a collective term for velar consonants, uvular consonants, pharyngeal consonants, epiglottal consonants and glottal consonants—basically, anything on the hard palate and further back. In this case it is not a social distinction, but merely the fact that guttural consonants include velar and further back. Glottal R isn't originally my work, as I had only documented the velar R section; and pharyngeal R, as I said, was a correction of earlier errors. But all and all, considering that consonants in most languages do not usually "jump" this far in mouth location just for one phoneme between dialects, and that this phenomenon isn't nearly as often encountered outside the uvular R regions of northern Europe and their colonies, this subject is worthy of documentation. I've asked Mustafaa for aid in helping me explain this; he's currently unavailable for most of the month of May, and I'd prefer to wait until he returns. Until then, we can try to cover all our bases here. - Gilgamesh 22:03, 23 May 2005 (UTC)
Ok, since you can't be bothered with verifying your own claims, I looked up "guttural" in The Penguin Dictionary of Language and found the following entry:
guttural A popular impressionistic label for a consonant sound made toward the back of the mouth, or for a low-pitched, throaty voice quality. It is not used in phonetic description, which instead uses terms as velar, uvular, and pharyngeal - notions capable of more precise articulatory location.
That's one of the reasons I'm quite skeptical to using "guttural" in the title of an encyclopedic article about phonetics. It's simply not a term becoming the title of an encyclopedic article and far too general to be used as proper phonetic terminology.
And as examples of other sounds jumping around in the mouth, I would recommend you to read up on the quite jumpy realizations of the Swedish phoneme /ɧ/, which is quite thoroughly described (with references) in voiceless dorso-palatal velar fricative and Swedish phonology#Fricatives. This a pretty good example that there are other phonemes than /r/ that are very varied.
Also, why should the guttural realizations of /r/ have their own article if it's so incredibly varied? If anything, it should be discussed in an article concerning the phonetic variety of "r" in general, including the vowel realizations (in all places of articulation).
Unless you cover your bases by referencing questionable edits, I suggest that you revert that which is not verifiable as well as disputed. Others should not be forced to verify your edits for you.
Peter Isotalo 23:31, May 23, 2005 (UTC)

I thought I was citing my sources here. But if I'm not, then I really don't know what to do here now. And yes, I was well aware of the Swedish pronunciation of CH. Since I'm obviously not communicating well, can we get Mustafaa here? He was always so much better at this than I ever was. - Gilgamesh 09:11, 24 May 2005 (UTC)

I think you're communicating very well. The problem is that you're just not being forthcoming as to where you've gotten the information from. Have you read Wikipedia:Cite your sources and Wikipedia:Verifiability? What you need to explain is where you've picked up this knowledge and what you base your phonetic analysis on (besides your private opinions). I am not a linguist myself, but what I've learned from even very basic phonetic literature is that making such general statements about sounds just isn't a valid analysis. If anything, my citation from the article in the Penguin dictionary should give you a hint as to the extent of the problem. If this is your own private phonetic analysis, then I strongly suggest you try to read up on the subject.
On a side note: /ɧ/ is usually refered to as "sj" or "sje", not "ch".
Peter Isotalo 23:48, May 24, 2005 (UTC)

I think it may make sense to define this as a page about, not a sound, but a sound-shift: the shift from alveolar trill to back trill/fricative. This sound shift is common enough to be of significant interest, and one particular areal case of it - its spread from France through neighboring countries to Scandinavia - is documented in some detail, as I understand. I'm not sure that "guttural R" is the best title for such a page, but it has the advantage of not excluding clearly related cases like the Danish and French shifts, while excluding shifts of r to a bilabial trill (say) which don't show any particular connection to this sound shift. A bibliography should certainly be added at some stage, but I certainly see the problem: it can sometimes be difficult to track down suitable references for statements that count as "common knowledge", like French using a uvular R. - Mustafaa 18:04, 25 May 2005 (UTC)

Glad to see you could join the discussion, Mustafaa. If anything, I would like to hear some proposals form either of you (or anyone else for that matter) about an appropriate title for an artilce on the more general "r"-shift. "Guttral r" is certainly not appropriate since it treats the sounds formed in the back of the mouth as somehow more relevant or canonical than the entire phenomenon. I'd also like some comments about classifying languages according to isolated and very general phonetic shifts.
On a side note, I leafed through Ladefoged's Consonants and Vowels at the book store today, and he claims that the uvular trill is a very rare sound. Personally, I know that it occurs only in some Norwegian and Swedish dialects, High German, Parisian (?) French. I know there's isolated dialects of English ("the Northumbrian burr", I believe) and it does occur in Russian, though it does't seem to belong to any particular dialect, but rather to individual speakers.
Peter Isotalo 21:20, May 25, 2005 (UTC)

rhotic ?[edit]

why not rename "rhotic"? peace — ishwar  (SPEAK) 17:56, 2005 Jun 9 (UTC)

Do you mean rhotic r, ish? Personally, I think it might be a good idea to summarize this information in the article rhotic consonant.
Peter Isotalo July 3, 2005 19:39 (UTC)
I think there are two issues here. Phonetically "gutteral" is too imprecise to be a useful term. However, the 'guttural R' is a sociolinguistic phenomenon, and here it is the very imprecision of the word that is so useful: the precise phonetics don't matter, it's the throaty quality that people have in mind when they speak of this. I don't know of any other good word in English. "Whirr" is used for crickets and treefrogs as well as people, so it's not appropriate. "Rhotic" as a phonological term also covers coronal trills, flaps, and approximants, which aren't the point of this article.
Speech registers of various languages are distinguished by the gutteral ar, and therefore a separate article on this subject will be useful for linking from other articles if for nothing else. I came to this article for just that reason: Zamenhof only used a few Slavic words in Esperanto, less than two dozen, but one of the words he thought important enough to bring in was kartavi "to pronounce the letter <r> in the throat" (my translation from the SAT dictionary of 1934).
However, I agree that the phrase "pseudo-ar" is a poor choice. Better to explain that the Inuit sound, while phonetically similar to the gutteral ar, is completely distinct sociolinguistically, and should not be considered a rhotic at all. It's only due to the influence of Danish orthography that the letter R was chosen for it. kwami 00:19, 21 September 2005 (UTC)

Dutch uvular trill[edit]

The section dealing with the pronunciaton of the R-sound in Dutch describes an obsolete situation.

The assertion that the uvular trill (R\) is common in certain parts of the Netherlands, but alveolar trill (r) still prevails, is wrong. It's the other way around: uvular trill is considered the standard R-sound, while alveolar trill has almost become extinct. A great many Dutch wouldn't even be able to produce a correct alveolar trill.

In the southern provinces of Noord-Brabant and Limburg it's the voiced uvular fricative (R) and voiceless uvular fricative (X) that's favored most, not the uvular trill (R\). Although voiceless uvular fricative resembles the velar fricative (x), which is a very common sound in Standard Dutch, this particular sound is replaced by a voiceless palatal fricative (C) in southern dialects, so there's no confusion possible whatsoever.

A development that makes the Dutch situation a bit complicated is that the uvular trill (R\) is ousted by a sound that is most of the time described as an alveolar approximant (r\) - but which I think more resembles a velar approximant (M\) - in syllable-final position. This sound, which has its origins in the western part of the Netherlands, is frowned upon by many but is unmistakably gaining ground rapidly. In certain parts in the West, uvular trill has been replaced by either the alveolar approximant or the velar approximant in all positions. The Leiden area is most notorious for pronouncing the R-sound as 'American r'. It is also named 'Gooise r', because this pronunciation is in the region called 'Het Gooi' very common as well. As all Dutch broadcasting companies operate in this region, the future of alveolar/velar approximant looks extremely promising.

People learning Dutch as a foreign language are not normally taught the alveolar trill, but the uvular trill instead.

I hope an expert in the field of Dutch phonetics will soon rewrite the section about the pronunciation of the R-sound in Dutch, because the information that's currently in Wikipedia is highly misleading.

bkloer 14:25, 7 August 2005 (UTC)

As you can see, the sign about the factual accuracy of the article has been put up for a reason. I encourage and welcome you to correct any information you feel is erroneous. If you don't know how to handle IPA here at Wikipedia, just use X-SAMPA instead and I'll help correct it later. I look forward to seeing your edits.
Peter Isotalo 19:52, 7 August 2005 (UTC)

Thanks for inviting me to add information or to make amendments. After making my comment I found out that a research project about the realizations of the r-sound in Dutch is going on. A synopsis (in Dutch) can be found on It confirms the rich variety of r-sounds in the Netherlands and Flanders: alveolar/uvular trills, velar/uvular fricatives, alveolar taps, approximants and even retroflex realizations. It also confirms the rapid expansion of the alveolar/velar approximant in the Netherlands ('Gooise r'). Although it is said that detailed research into the social and geographical distribution of r-sounds is needed, I think the contribution I made earlier roughly describes the present situation in the Netherlands. Of course, it would be better if those involved in this research project would review it and add a finishing touch. Their interest can probably be aroused? Otherwise I'd prefer you to edit the text - I'm new to Wikipedia - and touch up my English. What's still needed is an accurate description of the distribution and realizations of the r-sound in Flanders, because developments in that area differ greatly.

bkloer -- 08:51, 8 August 2005 (UTC)

Sounds wonderful. I wouldn't be too confident about those responsible for the project to review it and give their professional approval. The way we work here at Wikipedia is by being verifiable through the citing of sources. An approval from a person or even persons doesn't really count for anything except making an article featured. Why not add this information to Dutch language or perhaps creating a separate Dutch phonology if needed. I can also recommend registering so you can customize your account, get a proper talkpage and there by easing communication with other Wikipedians.
Peter Isotalo 09:54, 8 August 2005 (UTC)

The information I added is highly specific and should probably not be part of a Dutch language article. The alternative is indeed creating a separate Dutch phonology section, but writing such an article is quite a job. I'd rather see someone else doing that job, incorporating (part of) my contribution if necessary.

bkloer--benj 08:53, 9 August 2005 (UTC)

Research by the university of Brussels has shown that the "French r" is conquering Flanders [3]. According to the research, 66% uses the alveolar R, 28 % uses the guttural R, whereas 5.3 % uses both. Amongst younger people (like me :)), the use of the guttural R is widerspread. MaartenVidal 21:13, 2 June 2006 (UTC)

Category is wrong[edit]

I dont like this category at all. The category Guttural R is NOT a list of languages alone. Therefore it should be removed, or (even better) deleted. -- 10:53, 30 November 2005 (UTC)

[R] and [r][edit]

as in dutch, german and german dialects including swiss german dialects have both (or in the case of dutch SEVERAL) types of /r/ (or (r)?), for example, in Basel and St. Gallen [R] is more common, whereas in Chur and Zurich [r] is usually heard (not universally though, at least in Zuerich). the account of [R] and [r] in Germanic seems rather doubtful to me. it is even controversial which type of /r/ was used in (Proto-)Germanic. Wathiik 11:46, 29 April 2006 (UTC)

Why not a separate section for Breton?[edit]

The section on French has the following remark:

The nearby Breton language in Brittany, which is a Celtic language rather than a Romance language, but is heavily influenced by French, retains an alveolar trill in some dialects.

This is rather cryptic, but suggests that the uvular R is also used in other dialects of Breton. Why not expand on that?... FilipeS 10:52, 29 September 2006 (UTC)

I don't get your problem. To paraphrase: Breton originally only used an alveolar trill, just like apparently all European languages prior to the 18th century (as far as they had a rhotic consonant, but I don't know any who used not to) used an alveolar rhotic. Under heavy influence by French, the uvular pronunciation was introduced, but some dialects retain the original pronunciation as an alveolar trill. That's all it says, and I don't see how that isn't clear from the paragraph. It's not cryptic, it's totally plain. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 20:42, 22 March 2012 (UTC)

French R[edit]

The description of the realisations of the /r/ phoneme in French is outdated. The text says "In the standard dialect of Paris, it is pronounced as a trill (IPA /ʀ/), while in most of the rest of France it is pronounced as a voiced (IPA /ʁ/) or voiceless (IPA /χ/) uvular fricative. However, in much of southern France /r/ remains alveolar rather than uvular." This is incorrect: an alveolar trill (IPA [r]) for /r/ is quite rare nowadays. As to uvular trills ([ʀ]), I don't think I have heard anybody use them, except singers in 1950's recordings (e.g. Brassens). Oh, and the paragraph does not differenciate between phonemic data and phonetic data: the phoneme /r/ may have several realizations in French, [ʁ] being the most common. 21:34, 15 December 2006 (UTC)

"Rural Quebecois as well as Quebecois from older generations generally use an alveolar trill, and as such this older pronunciation feature must have been retained after the French colonists in Canada were isolated from "Mother France."

French Canadian broadcasters as well as Quebec Province's urbanites, however, try to mimic the modern guttural rhotic pronunciation of Paris perhaps as the result of influence by modern French media from France.

Generally speaking, classical choral and operatic French pronunciation requires the use of an alveolar trill when singing, since an alveolar trill is easier to project than any guttural sound, be it a uvular trill or a uvular fricative."

Not true, while the western part of Quebec (and probably other French dialects west of Quebec) historically used an alveloar trill while the eastern part of Quebec (Québec City area, BEauce, bas-st-laurent, chaudière-appalaches, etc.) used a guttural R.

It's true though that the "eastern Quebec R" has spread to the western part of Quebec during the last 40-50 years and it might be due in part to French influence.

—The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) 06:25, 25 January 2007 (UTC)

As for Parisian French, this is entirely true. Nowadays, I've never heard anybody realizing it as [ʀ]. This pronounciation what that of Edith Piaf, which means half a century ago. Paris has evolved since, and now eveybody pronounces it [ʁ] (be it as a fricative or an approximant). This has to be specified in the article, I guess. Transcendency (talk) 18:32, 22 January 2008 (UTC)

I totally agree with that too. I've never heard a uvular trill either, except in recordings dating back to the middle of the 20th century. So, does anyone object this section being edited ? ( (talk) 16:05, 19 October 2008 (UTC))

What's meant by "North America" in the sentence "[r] is sometimes found in southern France, as well as increasingly less in North America"? The obvious reference is to Quebecois; is this also intended to encompass Cajun areas and/or some other North American regions? Dratman (talk) 10:21, 14 November 2009 (UTC)

Yes it is. — Ƶ§œš¹ [aɪm ˈfɻɛ̃ⁿdˡi] 10:40, 14 November 2009 (UTC)
It was commented quite a long time ago that the description of French /r/ is outdated, but there a still a number of issues lingering in the current version:
  • There is nothing like a "standard dialect of Paris" today: that wording is inaccurate and misleading. There are people from so many origins in Paris that you can hear very many kinds of pronunciations, none of them specific of the city. If this is intended to describe the prestige variety in France commonly heard on radio and television broadcasting, used among educated prople etc., this variety is no more Paris-specific than RP-English is London-specific. Actually, there is (or was...) an old myth in (let's say it so) "impressive popular linguistics" that the best French would be spoken in the Val de Loire, not in Paris... A better name would be "Standard French". This prestige variety uses [ʁ].
  • This "Standard French" is not homogenous (though I would be surprised if it included something other than [ʁ] as realisation for the phoneme /r/...) : at least it was not one generation ago, when linguists André Martinet and Henriette Walter tried to define it by interwieving putative speakers (educated middle-class people living in Paris) and discovered that there were important varietions with many words (somehow correlated with age and regional ties, as far as I can recall). (The work is : André Martinet, Henriette Walter. Dictionnaire de la prononciation française dans son usage réel. Paris : France-expansion, 1973. 1 vol. (932 p.) ; 24 cm.)
  • There was once a more-specifically Parisian variety of French using the trill [ʀ], often called accent parigot. Today it is mostly associated with old cabaret-style songs, for instance by Maurice Chevalier or Édith Piaf (nearly stereotypically) - one contributor above mentioned Georges Brassens, but I wonder if he was not rather using the apical trill [r]; I'd have to check ; it was a working-class accent associated with popular neighbourhoods of Paris in the first part of the 20th century, that have since undergone major sociological change. Now it is barely heard (well, singer Renaud has something of it in his singing pronunciation ; I'm unable to tell if it's his natural pronunciation or if he uses it for stylistic effect) ; to me it's associated with an earlier stage of the language, together with the kind of language used in newsreels. If you're looking for popular dialects in Paris today, you're far more likely to hear a "suburban" variety of French which is quite different from former parigot.
  • I strongly doubt that it is accurate today to describe a characteristic difference in pronunciation between Paris and the rest of Northern France. Neither is homogenous anyway.
  • [ʀ] is still given as the pronunciation of R by many (most?) dictionaries, but this is a matter of transcriptional conservatism - pretty like the historical use of [ʌ] to describe the vowel in cut, which is currently more like [ɐ]
  • I do not remember [χ] being quoted in reference books (but I'm just an amateur), though I'm pretty sure it does indeed exists (I've heard [χ] among Belgian acquaintances of mine). What about its distribution : free variant, unvoiced variant of [ʁ] in come positions, both according to speaker? (I ask because those acquaintances tend to feature final devoicing in their pronunciation of French, so it could be just one manifestation of this. Also, the French phoneme /l/, usually pronounced [l], tends to devoice in contact with unvoiced sounds, e.g. the /l/ of peuple in final position, so I would not be utmost surprising to have something similar with /r/ in, say, propre, since /l/ or /r/ phonemes pattern the same in the language's phonology, and for neither of them is voice a distinctive feature.)
I am aware that quite a lot of literature would be needed to be searched to substantiate those claims. But in the meantime, I think the main text should be changed to describe the current situation more accurately. Bertrand Bellet (talk) 11:18, 23 November 2009 (UTC)
Feel free to do so. The information on French is unsourced anyway and you seem to know what you're talking about. — Ƶ§œš¹ [aɪm ˈfɻɛ̃ⁿdˡi] 16:24, 23 November 2009 (UTC)
I have made a minimal edit to reflect points I raised below, but this is still to be sourced. For the prestige variety, I preferred to refer to the "use of the French media" which I find less vague than Standard French, especially regarding pronunciation. (Also, I am not familiar with Belgian, Swiss or Québécois pronunciation of Standard French and would like to avoid undue generalisations.) I wonder also if the persistance of [r] in France is truly southern, rather than "rural" or "away from Paris" ; I well remember that my late paternal grandmother, which was from rural Lower Normandy, used it. It is quite possible however that the change of [r] towards guttural R is indeed less advanced in Southern France today. This needs to be checked. Bertrand Bellet (talk) 11:21, 26 November 2009 (UTC)
I recall seeing a European map that showed the distribution of alveolar and uvular r. It really is a southern feature in France. I'll see if I can't find it next week when I get home. — Ƶ§œš¹ [aɪm ˈfɻɛ̃ⁿdˡi] 16:53, 26 November 2009 (UTC)


I think that this article should be renamed to Guttural rhotic. This is an article that describes rhotic consonants as they are phonetically, and simply by its scope is very little orthography-oriented. Naturally, a search for and link to Guttural R will be directed to this page still. Anyone oppose? Ƶ§œš¹ [aɪm ˈfɻɛ̃ⁿdˡi] 22:28, 14 January 2007 (UTC)

I actually would propose renaming it to something more like "Sociolinguistic rhotic consonant variation" or "Sociolinguistic variation in rhotic consonants" and purging the word "Guttural" out of any authoritative part of the text. "Guttural" is not an accepted linguistic term, it is only recognised in its capacity as a vulgate word. Matthew Stuckwisch 23:07, 26 March 2007 (UTC)


This article has been tagged for lacking citation for more than half a year! Where are the unsourced statements? A cleanup is required NOW.--Fitzwilliam 05:25, 15 January 2007 (UTC)

Right, before the publication date comes upon us. Ƶ§œš¹ [aɪm ˈfɻɛ̃ⁿdˡi] 13:25, 15 January 2007 (UTC)

A search on JSTOR shows up pretty much nothing for searching the term "Guttural R" except in very old linguistics articles. I'll look into doing an overhaul of the article to bring it up to standards. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Guifa (talkcontribs) 00:10, 27 March 2007 (UTC)

arabic mistake[edit]

it was claimed that Fez speech uses a uvular R. this is definitely wrong; i spent a couple months learning moroccan arabic in Fez and it has no such sound. linguistic accounts of Moroccan Arabic claim the following: that there are two /r/ phonemes, "pharyngeal" and "non-pharyngeal", where the "pharyngeal r" is historically due to /r/ when not preceded or followed by /i/; however, nowadays they almost never alternate (unlike the similar situation in Egyptian, for example), with one or the other having been generalized to all words derived from a particular root, except in a few remnant cases. Richard Harrell's dictionary, and his grammar, and Jeffrey Heath's book "Ablaut and Ambiguity" are all in agreement about this. "Ablaut and Ambiguity" also claims that the two sounds are clearly distinguishable (without saying what they sound like), and also claims to be based mostly on the speech around Fez. i assume that this must describe a former situation, c. 30 years ago or so or whenever Heath did his research. it definitely didn't apply in the speech of any Moroccans i encountered, and i asked a number of them to pronounce some relevant words -- this includes the 70-year-old guy who taught me Moroccan dialect. the current situation is apparently that both /r/'s sound the same (alveolar tap/trill), but are distinguishable by their effects on neighboring vowels. Benwing (talk) 03:39, 2 September 2008 (UTC)


Took out this section:

Guttural R exists as a pronunciation of the written character Ğ in some, especially East Anatolian dialects of Turkish of Turkey (and in neighbouring Azerbaijani). However, the sound is not an allophone of true, alveolar R sounds in any Turkish language . The pronunciation of the sound is softer than French guttural R (always voiced).

which seemingly refers to a a plain ol' voiced uvular fricative; and even in case it is a trill, it's stressed even in this write-up that it's nothing to do with /r/. --Trɔpʏliʊmblah 10:03, 10 September 2008 (UTC)

Brazilian Portuguese[edit]

The assertion that that the /rr/ in "carro" is normally pronounced as h, x or χ is simply wrong. To the extent that such pronunciations exist at all, they are restricted to certain regions and, by and large, to uneducated speakers, and thus fall far short of being considered standard. As a matter of fact, they sound rather odd to most native speakers and would hardly ever be encountered in the media. Without conducting a scientific survey, I would say that x and χ for initial /r/ and intervocalic /rr/ are restricted to poorly educated speakers from the city of Rio de Janeiro and its surroundings, while the media and all reasonably educated speakers there are actually notorious for their use of [ʁ]. Analogously, [h] confines itself largely to the Centro Oeste, an expansive but sparsely populated region, and, again, to uneducated speakers.

Wfgiuliano (talk) 02:26, 2 February 2009 (UTC)

Continental West Germanic[edit]

The article claims that Frisian languages are surrounded by languages using the uvular r. As this claim is lacking a source and as I cannot confirm it from my own experience, I would like to delete it. Unoffensive text or character (talk) 11:07, 27 March 2009 (UTC)

"Throaty R"?[edit]

Eh? Who calls it "throaty R"? Sounds like an ad-hoc description rather than an accepted term. If there's no source to show it actually exists it should be deleted. Flapdragon (talk) 12:21, 18 April 2009 (UTC)


Seriously, I know they do. It of course varies across dialects, sometimes drastically, but as far as I know (which is quite a bit linguistically) Standard French and Standard German both use the same uvular fricative for their rhotics. Can anyone find me a source on this because I have a couple people who just won't believe me when I say both (standard) languages have the same "r" sound and it's really pissing me off because I know I'm right. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:20, 16 September 2009 (UTC)

See French phonology and German phonology. — Ƶ§œš¹ [aɪm ˈfɻɛ̃ⁿdˡi] 06:36, 16 September 2009 (UTC)

They won't believe me if I show them Wikipedia pages, they don't think that's a reliable source. One of them absoltely HATES being wrong and she'll continue to argue that she's right because she thinks something's true just because it's er opinion. So they won't take me seriously if I show them Wiki pages. I need a real reliable source that explicitly says that French and German both use the same uvular fricative to say their "r"s with some obvious dialectal variation, but I can't seem to find one. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:15, 16 September 2009 (UTC)

What if you're wrong? "The phonology of /r/" (in Distinctive Feature Theory) by Richard Wiese talks about the issue. — Ƶ§œš¹ [aɪm ˈfɻɛ̃ⁿdˡi] 19:06, 16 September 2009 (UTC)

I never said French phonology and German phonology were the same, of course they aren't. All I am saying is that phonemically they are both uvular fricatives. The most commonly-occurring allophone is the one that lends its symbol to the phoneme, and both French and German have the voiced uvular fricative on their repsective phoneme charts. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:15, 16 September 2009 (UTC)

Actually it is a problem if you are talking about phonology (since you said phonemically), rather than phonetics, as it depends on the phonological analysis then. Usually /r/ is simply described as a rhotic, with all allophones accorded equal status, but it is possible to analyse /r/ as the voiced counterpart of /x/, for example, which would support taking the uvular fricative as the primary allophone. Looking at de:Aussprache der deutschen Sprache, you will find the uvular fricative selected for inclusion in the table of consonant phonemes, indeed, and you may wish to check out Fausto Cercignani's book.
However, I still fail to see the relevance of phonological analyses for your question. The actual pronunciation of /r/ in German varies tremendously, and it seems to me that every conceivable allophone or realisation is found somewhere, in some region or individual pronunciation. Basically, my impression is that German has all the allophones found in English as well as the allophones found in French (voiced and unvoiced uvular trill, fricative and approximant), as well as those in Danish, even, and more (various kinds of vocalisation).
If, however, you wish to know the most common or "standard" pronunciation of /r/ in German, you might be correct that it is identical to the "standard" pronunciation in French, although it seems to me that the Germans tend (although this depends on the region the speaker comes from) to pronounce their uvular fricative less far in the back (more like velar), and use the approximant realisation more often or vocalise or sometimes even drop the phoneme wholesale, which the French only seem to do in words like quatre, i. e. at the end of a word after a consonant. Therefore, I believe the German /r/ could be perceived as generally "weaker" or "softer" than its French counterpart, which might explain why your friends do not think they are identical. But as I said, it's really difficult to generalise. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 22:00, 10 October 2010 (UTC)

Bergen, Norway[edit]

I may simply have overlooked it, but I cannot find the claim about the uvular r in Bergen being introduced through contact with the Hanseatic League supported anywhere. The uvular r seems to date back to the late 19th century in Bergen. A time when the Hanseatic League had long ceased to be of any importance. Unoffensive text or character (talk) 15:50, 2 November 2009 (UTC)

Good point, although Bergensk says that the Low German merchants were present in the city until 1750 and the uvular trill was already acquired in the 18th century, but as far as I'm aware, the uvular trill spread in Central German first and Low German, especially more remote dialects, partly retains the alveolar pronunciation until the present day, and the Bergen dialect certainly was relatively isolated as well. From Bergensk, it seems that the feature was actually acquired from Danish, just like elsewhere in Norway, although it is conceivable that the influence from German in the 19th century supported the tendency towards a uvular pronunciation. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 19:56, 10 October 2010 (UTC)


As it stands the section on Yiddish reads, “The upper/lower distinction also historically influenced the development of upper and lower dialects of Yiddish, the historic vernacular language of Ashkenazi Jews. As these Jews migrated to Eastern Europe (and later America etc.), they brought their particular pronunciations with them.” This “upper/lower distinction” is not defined in the article. Does upper/lower mean place of articulation? Or the part of Germany where dialects or subdialects originated? When you are talking about migrations, it would be helpful to indicate, at least broadly, where the different regional allophones were used at the time of the destruction of the Yiddish cultural area ~1942. — Solo Owl (talk) 17:39, 12 December 2010 (UTC)

I immediately understood it in a sociolinguistic sense, i. e., that the uvular trill was only used in formal (acrolectal) registers of Yiddish. But you are correct that it is not altogether clear if it does not perhaps refer to Yiddish dialect regions, or perhaps German dialect regions, but it wouldn't make a lot of sense to me. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 10:22, 5 January 2011 (UTC)


Could we have an infobox, something like

Voiced uvular fricative
IPA number 143
Kirshenbaum g"

I'm not putting it in myself as this is not an area I have much knowledge about. I've just seen the one in French wikipedia and adapted it a little to English, using the Uvular trill article as a model. It seems helpful to be able to actually hear the sound in particular, especially for those left mystified by the linguistic terminology.

btw Shouldn't Britain be coloured in the map too, rather than being left grey?--Annielogue (talk) 08:54, 6 March 2011 (UTC)

Technically, the "guttural" r represents a range of pronunciations, so the infobox might not be in order, though having sound files sounds like a good idea. The source used for the map didn't include information on GB, which is why it's grayed out (or greyed out). 17:18, 6 March 2011 (UTC) [comment by User:Aeusoes1]
Changed the proposed infobox into more information. It's voiced uvular fricative now.
As Aeusoes1 wrote, this Guttural R can be multiple sounds. Except from the infobox-one, do we have more sample files available? Then we could create some overview. -DePiep (talk) 16:31, 10 July 2011 (UTC)

North east[edit]

On the rhotic/non-rhotic R article Tyneside is given as having this sort of R yet on the map here it is not coloured. Should it not be? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:20, 23 May 2011 (UTC)

The map is from a specific source that doesn't talk about English. Including Tyneside might be a little too WP:OR. — Ƶ§œš¹ [aɪm ˈfɹ̠ˤʷɛ̃ɾ̃ˡi] 01:02, 24 May 2011 (UTC)
If I remember correctly, the map was first published in the eighties. It is outdated and some of its details are incorrect (eg. use of uvular/alveolar r is not a social marker in German, as the caption implies). But it is the best map I know - in fact the only one. However, Tyneside speech, if I am not completely mistaken, has given up the burr long ago. Unoffensive text or character (talk) 14:50, 24 May 2011 (UTC)
We don't use a burr in the north east anymore but we do use a very gutteral French style R. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:31, 10 July 2011 (UTC)
Huh? Northumbrian Burr means exactly that, a guttural R like in French. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 16:36, 1 July 2013 (UTC)


The map lists as the whole of austria as not using the gutteral R, while the great majority are using it (the uvular fricative to be exact). the alveolar trill is only used in tyrol, vorarlberg, the westernmost part of upper austria (innviertel) and few districts of vienna. using the alveolar trill instantly makes any austrian realise that you come from one of these regions. (talk) 02:05, 18 August 2011 (UTC)

The map was first published in the eighties and it is based not upon research, but upon personal information Peter Trudgill gathered from students. It is outdated and highly inaccurate, but it is the only map of that kind that exists. Unoffensive text or character (talk) 07:22, 18 August 2011 (UTC)
Actually, it was originally published in 1974 using information from his own tape recordings, as well as students, dialectologists, linguists, and several sources dating between the 1930s and 1960s. You are correct that it's outdated, though. — Ƶ§œš¹ [ãːɱ ˈfɹ̠ˤʷɪ̃ə̃nlɪ] 17:55, 26 December 2011 (UTC)
The map has been changed in the meanwhile, apparently based on OR (and not necessarily reflecting the state of the mid-20th century). Shouldn't it be reverted to the original state? --Florian Blaschke (talk) 15:36, 24 January 2014 (UTC)
I've reverted the map now so that it corresponds to the description on Commons (where the sources are clearly stated) and the caption here again. That the map is outdated is a feature, not a bug. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 15:44, 24 January 2014 (UTC)

It's still wrong to claim that Austria uses alveolar pronunciation. Alveolar r is the first thing that gives away second generation immigrants from Turkey and other countries. Wish I had a source. --ἀνυπόδητος (talk) 16:19, 28 April 2014 (UTC)

The text says that the alveolar rhotic is used in in some standard German varieties of (...) Austria (...), which is, without the slightest doubt, correct.
The map has its shortcomings and it is outdated, but until someone comes up with a better map, this one will have to do. Unoffensive text or character (talk) 10:37, 29 April 2014 (UTC)
The wording should perhaps be a little clearer as to what is meant for Austria. It's too easy to read the attributes as applying specifically to Germany.
And I agree with Florian's opinion that being outdated is a feature. We should of course have an up-to-date map, if we can find one, but I wouldn't want to replace the existing one. Like rhotacism in the UK, it's interesting to see how the change has progressed. — kwami (talk) 19:05, 29 April 2014 (UTC)
How about in some standard German varieties of Germany, Austria and Switzerland?
After all, the situation in Germany as well as in Austria is highly complex and constantly changing. This paragraph is not the place for attempting to give a detailed description of the situation, which, for lack of reliable sources will be impossible anyway. Unoffensive text or character (talk) 08:11, 30 April 2014 (UTC)
Yes, that's clear. As would be moving German to the end. — kwami (talk) 08:23, 30 April 2014 (UTC)

I've boldly added Unoffensive's suggestion. By the way, I'm pretty sure the map was wrong or outdated even in 1974. This is the year I was born; and if alveolar pronunciation had been common in Austria at that time, I wouldn't have had such problems with the "Italian" pronunciation later on. Alas, no RSources. --ἀνυπόδητος (talk) 09:03, 1 May 2014 (UTC)

Agreed, the map was not one hundred percent correct even in the seventies. One example: Alveolar r was prevalent in the Palatinate region well into the eighties and still can be found there today.
Furthermore, the use of alveolar/uvular r is not a social marker in Germany. Heinrich Lübke, Willy Brandt, Franz Müntefering, Franz Josef Jung and Jürgen W. Falter come to my mind as persons who certainly spoke or speak Standard German and use the alveolar rhotic. And I distinctly remember that Claus Seibel, a news reader for ZDF, even used it occasionally when readig the heute news in the seventies. Unoffensive text or character (talk) 06:54, 2 May 2014 (UTC)

Map legend and 'education'[edit]

To couple a specific sound to education is like insisting that if you speak Received Pronunciation you are educated and everybody else are a bunch of boors - Scots, Irish, Americans etc. But that is an aside, not to be part of the present discussion.

With reference to the map, entire areas are said to use Guttural R all the time and others only in "educated speech". What exactly are we saying? That these people revert to another way of speaking (presumably less educated) when in normal conversation? Should we not rather be referring to regions where the 'dominant' (or often so-called "standard") variety is spoken and regions where other varieties are spoken, it being a fact that the speakers of the latter in SOME formal situations make an attempt to speak as close as possible to 'standard'? I say some because two highly educated people in a very formal situation will speak to each other in their language variety if they know they ome from the same place. Rui ''Gabriel'' Correia (talk) 16:02, 11 February 2014 (UTC)

That's the terms used in the source. — Lfdder (talk) 17:22, 11 February 2014 (UTC)
Exactly, @Lfdder. The whole map is problematic, but it is the only one we have and it was originally drawn by a well-known linguist. Unoffensive text or character (talk) 09:28, 12 February 2014 (UTC)

Thanks for your input, Lfdder and 'UTOC' (Unoffesive ...) What does one do in a situations like this? If we found a very valid map of languages in South Africa written in the 70s with the word kaffir in it, we might want to use the map, but we most certainly would not use the term. Was this work published when the dominant view was still that the 'standard' variety of a language was the 'correct and proper' way to speak? Rui ''Gabriel'' Correia (talk) 11:56, 12 February 2014 (UTC)

I assumed 'educated' to mean as taught in formal education, i.e. where they might use the standard. I don't think Peter Trudgill would ever claim that speakers of non-standard dialects are uneducated. — Lfdder (talk) 12:03, 12 February 2014 (UTC)
I accept that the author did not mean to imply that. But, in all fairness, he lived in a time when no-one without RP an accent would work as a presenter at the BBC. Would it not be a case of 'updating' the language? Rui ''Gabriel'' Correia (talk) 22:26, 13 February 2014 (UTC)
What would you replace it with? — Lfdder (talk) 22:37, 13 February 2014 (UTC)
I think what Trudgill meant is that the use of a certain variant of /r/ may or may not be a marker of social class.
However, this is to my mind incorrect at least for Germany, where the kind of /r/ you use depends three factors mainly: your age, whether you grew up in a town or in the countryside and, to a lesser extent, the social class you were born into, not so much the social class you are currently belonging to.
Leaving this aside as Original Research, I would suggest we speak of uvular/alveolar /r/ as a marker of social class. Unoffensive text or character (talk) 10:01, 17 February 2014 (UTC)