Re: Need some help with terms: was "rhotic miscellany"
|From:||Sally Caves <scaves@...>|
|Date:||Sunday, November 7, 2004, 14:59|
----- Original Message -----
From: "caeruleancentaur" <caeruleancentaur@...>
Sally Caves wrote:
> > Retroflectere: "to bend back." The tongue pulls back and the tip curls
> > up
> > towards the roof of the mouth. If we stick strictly to the meaning of
> > the
> > term itself, then I indeed do pronounce my "r"s in English
> > retroflexively,
> > and so, I imagine, do millions of other Americans.
> --- In firstname.lastname@example.org, John Cowan <jcowan@R...> wrote:
> >But others don't. I, for example, pronounce "r" with alveolopalatal
> >articulation: the tip of my tongue is behind but not touching my
> >lower teeth, while the blade of the tongue approximates my hard
> Finally! A description of my "r." I've been sitting here these past
> few days saying, "rrrrrrrrrr," & trying to figure out where my tongue
> is. This is the description that works, only to add that the sides
> of the blade are in contact with the inside of my upper teeth. I
> don't think I've every heard an American use a retroflex "r."
I just can't duplicate what John is describing and still pronounce "car" the
way I do it. So there's no curling up of your tongue tip towards the roof
of your mouth? It stays behind your lower teeth? Is there any curling at
all, John? When I try to duplicate that, without the curl, I get not only a
sound that changes the quality of my "a," but an "r" that sounds like "caw"
with "r-coloring," If I curl it, with the tongue still behind the lower
teeth, I get a deeper sounding r, but in order to make it sound right, it
still points up at the roof of my mouth. You and I have met at Tim's house
(that was a wonderful party!). I don't think I noticed that your "r" was
different from mine. Maybe these distinctions are so subtle that it's hard
for others to hear it when they aren't listening for it.
I'm saying "car" now and holding it. The back of my tongue drops down (for
the back vowel). The sides of my tongue are half way between my upper and
lower back teeth, and the tip is turned up behind the alveolar ridge and
pointing towards the hard palate. Let's try it with a front vowel, "ear":
tongue rises in the mouth to accommodate the front vowel. Back and sides of
the tongue are touching the back teeth. To get the "r" ("ear" is definitely
a kind of diphthong for me), the whole tongue drops slightly, but not as far
as in "car," and tip of tongue curls up behind the alveolarpalatal region to
point at the palate. If I raise the tip of the tongue, it touches that
tickly part of my hard palate that arches up and away from the post
But everybody's mouth is different. Mine is long and narrow (which is why I
had to have such extensive orthodonture: lots of teeth yanked because of
over crowding) and the roof of my mouth is high domed and arches up
suddenly. Nothing gradual about it!
Maybe that's the problem. We're assigning parts to the mouth, but every
mouth is different. I wish I could provide a diagram, but my scanner is
broken. (I used to have the plaster cast they took of my mouth to fit me
with a "retainer." YUCK!
I do not have an unusually pronounced "r"; my accent is "generally" Eastern
seaboard, so what I think is happening here is that I don't know where the
so-called "retroflex region" is IN MY MOUTH. I've been entrenched in
thinking that "retroflex" describes the backward tilting of the tip of the
tongue, and the direction of the point. Given that definition, what you
would hear from me, Charlie, is a retroflex "r."
I guess I'm frustrated that I don't completely grasp where these areas in my
mouth are: "post alveolar, alveolar palatal, and retroflex region. I have
been entrenched in thinking that retroflex means the curling of the tongue
UP. Those Americans who bend it up and back, which is what I think some of
you are describing in using the term retroflex approximant, do exist, but we
associate that "r" with certain parts of the south, or parts of the midwest.
What we need in CXS is a better representation of the variations in the
American "r." Judging from what I've heard, these sounds have been