Distribution of guttural R (e.g. [ʁ ʀ χ]) in Continental Europe at the end of the 20th century.
only in some educated speech
usual in educated speech
There are two main theories regarding the origination of the uvular trill in European languages. According to one theory, the uvular trill originated in Standard French around the seventeenth century, spreading to standard varieties of German, Danish, Portuguese, as well as in parts of Dutch, Norwegian, and Swedish; it is also present in other areas of Europe, but it is not clear if such pronunciations are due to French influence. In most cases, varieties have shifted this to a voiced uvular fricative[ʁ] or a voiced uvular approximant[ʁ̞].
The other main theory posits that the uvular R originated within Germanic languages through a process where the alveolar R was weakened and then replaced by an imitation of the alveolar R (vocalisation). As counterevidence against the "French origin" theory, it is stipulated that there are many signs that the uvular R existed in certain German dialects long before the 17th century.
Ewert, A. (1963), The French Language, London: Faber
Finn, Peter (2004), "Cape Flats English: phonology", in Schneider, Edgar W.; Burridge, Kate; Kortmann, Bernd; Mesthrie, Rajend; Upton, Clive, A handbook of varieties of English, 1: Phonology, Mouton de Gruyter, pp. 934–984, ISBN3-11-017532-0
Goeman, Ton; Van de Velde, Hans (2001), "Co-occurrence constraints on /r/ and /ɣ/ in Dutch dialects", in Van de Velde, Hans; van Hout, Roeland, 'r-atics(PDF), Brussels: Etudes & Travaux, pp. 91–112, ISSN0777-3692
Verhoeven, Jo (2005), "Belgian Standard Dutch", Journal of the International Phonetic Association35 (2): 243–247, doi:10.1017/S0025100305002173
Verstraten, Bart; Van de Velde, Hans (2001), "Socio-geographical variation of /r/ in standard Dutch", in Van de Velde, Hans; van Hout, Roeland, 'r-atics(PDF), Brussels: Etudes & Travaux, pp. 45–61, ISSN0777-3692