No R Sounds At All

Thursday, October 29th, 2009

The first thing John Derbyshire noticed about his Wikipedia entry was that they got his name wrong:

Not the spelling — they at least managed to get that right — but the pronunciation. Their rendering in the International Phonetic Alphabet is /?d?rb???r / That includes two fricative-lingual r sounds. In fact there are no r sounds at all in the pronunciation of my name, fricative-lingual or otherwise. It is pronounced with pure vowels: /?d??b???/ (DAH-bi-shuh). I refer interested readers to §773 of Daniel Jones’ classic Outline of English Phonetics: “[I]n London English the r is never sounded when final or followed by a consonant.” The following §774, “Words for practising the omission of r,” is also helpful. Prof. Jones does not give a phonetic transcription of “Derbyshire” in standard English but he does, in §287, show /?d??b?/ for “Derby.”

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