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Re: a small phonological question about the French 'r'.

From:Raymond A. Brown <raybrown@...>
Date:Saturday, October 2, 1999, 7:57
At 12:29 pm -0400 1/10/99, Don Blaheta wrote:
>Quoth Christophe Grandsire: >> For those one the list who are very good at phonology, I have a small >> question. What is the phonological status of the French 'r'? Can it be >> better described as an uvular fricative or an uvular trill? Because at >> this PoA I have difficulties to know what I'm really doing when I >> pronounce this sound. > >I've heard "French R" described as a "uvular trill", but I've never >heard it---
'Twas once - hence the old time books so describe it. I guess lazy authors who don't want to check simply keep repeating the out-of-date stuff.
>every French speaker I've heard has used a uvular fricative.'
Indeed they do (unless from the south of France where the apical trill still survives in rural areas :)
>OTOH, with German I've heard everything: alveolar taps and trills, >uvular fricatives and trills.... The uvular trill is pretty hard to >mistake, once you've heard it. Dr. Ruth has a pretty strong uvular >trill, if you've ever had the chance to hear her.
I have occasionally heard it in France & some north Walian speakers use it. Yes, it's unmistakable once heard.
>' Then again, I don't think I've heard any Parisians speak---numerous >Qu=E9becois, a Dijonaise, and a few others that I think hail from the >provinces. So the city dialect may indeed have a uvular trill.
No - trills of whatever type seems to belong to the slower life of the countryside & are helpful when the voice has to carry over, say, one side of a field to another. They were also favored by actors in the days before microphones and voice amplification became common-place. But urban dwellers, especially in this age of electronic communication, do not favor trills. The Parisian /r/ is the voiced uvular fricative. And at 7:37 pm +0200 1/10/99, Boudewijn Rempt wrote: =2E.......
> >I seem to remember it described as an uvular fricative, writting in ipa >as a small-caps upside-down R. ... Just looked it up, yes, according >to Ladefoged (The Sounds of the Worlds Languages), "... and a fricative >uvular rhotic is the most common production of 'r' in French..." (p.
232), Yep - that's the fellow; and he's written, as you say, with an inverted upper case R.
>so a 'uvular scrape' is a good description ;-)
Reckon so. The rarer, 'old-fashioned' (at least as far as French is concerned) uvular trill is simply written as upper case R in IPA. Ray.