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too young February 01, 2007 03:16 PM

rr thingy
I wasn't blessed with the gift of being able to say rr. Is that a big factor when i need to speak spanish or will r do. Unless you are really good at explaining it (better than all the people I have asked offline) I don't think you will be able to teach me. So does it really matter in the long run?

Tomisimo February 02, 2007 12:46 PM

Re: rr thingy
Good question.

The answer can go either way. Even if you have poor pronunciation, you will most likely be understood in Spanish. I've often told students that if they pronounce the vowels and diphthongs correctly, and everything else with an American accent, native Spanish speakers will understand them- even though they'll have a horrible English accent. If you pronounce the Spanish 'rr' like an English 'r', you will still be understood in most situations, since the context of what you are saying should help the listener understand what you're mispronouncing.

You also ask 'does it matter in the long run'? Answer: Yes. You need to try and keep trying to pronounce better and better. What use would it be to have a huge vocabulary, great listening comprehension, and still pronounce Spanish with a first or second year accent? I'd encourage you to keep trying and to not give up. Your accent will improve.

Having said the above, I think I can teach you how to pronounce the double or 'trilled' 'r'. As you point out, it would be easier to teach it in person, but I think I can explain it in enough detail for you to do it.

How to pronounce the 'RR'

This explanation is probably only useful to speakers of North American (US) English, since there are some noteable differences between how we pronounce some sounds here and in other areas of the world. Say the following two words out loud and notice the area on the roof of your mouth where your tongue hits the roof of your mouth.

David - Where did your tongue tap the roof of your mouth at the first "d"?
Battery - Where did your tongue tap the roof of your mouth at the "tt"? (Remember this is pronounce as in US English, with 3 syllables (also known as the North American Tap, if I remember right.). If you're from the UK, you probably pronounce 'battery' as 2 syllables and the 'tt' is a 't' sound. If so, just use the example 'David').

Where did your tongue touch your palate (roof of your mouth)? Take your tongue and touch your upper front teeth, now move your tongue back until you feel a slight ridge, just behind your upper front teeth. Even if you don't feel the ridge, that's the same place where your tongue hits when you pronounce a 'D' in English. Remember that spot- that is where you're going to pronounce the Spanish 'RR'.

Now, I'm going to ask you to make a 'car' sound- like when a child is playing with a car and wants to make it 'accelerate'. This is not the vrrrrrrooooom sound, it's the sound you make using the sweet spot on the roof of your mouth- the same spot you just discovered above. Another sound kids often make using the same area of the roof of your mouth is the machine gun sound. Try it and see if your tongue is flapping and hitting that ridge rapidly. Now, even if you weren't successful making the children's play noises, I'll walk you through the process. Place your tongue on the roof of your mouth, in the position to pronounce a 'd'. You're about to say 'David'- your tongue is pressed up against the roof of your mouth. Now only say the 'D' or 'Da' of David. What you just said is a perfect Spanish 'r' (single r). Now to say the double 'RR', your goal is to make the exact same sound, but repeat it 3 to 5 times in rapid succession. You can't pronounce the 3 to 5 times separately, instead increase the tension of you tongue and press it up a bit harder and force the air past it. In your mind, think that your going to say the letter 'D', but instead of saying it, press your tongue harder against the ridge and force the air out past the tip of your tongue and get your tongue to bounce/flap and hit repeatedly the roof of your mouth. If you can do that, it's a perfect Spanish 'RR'.

You can do it- Keep practicing. :)

One more thing and this is important. You might be having trouble getting your tongue to "flap" to get the repeating "RR" sound. Even if you still can't produce that sound, don't worry about it. For the time being, use the single 'r' sound (what in English is a 'D') instead of the English 'R'. Try saying the Spanish name 'Ricardo'. Now instead of using an English 'R' as the first letter, use an English 'D' and you'll sound much better. Something like this "Dee" "cad" "tho". For now just think of the Spanish 'r' as if it were an English 'd'. And that will improve your pronunciation.


plátano frito February 08, 2007 07:21 PM

Whoah, I think that's the longest post I've ever seen!

No, seriously that's a good explaination. Gracias.

Tomisimo February 09, 2007 04:47 PM


Originally Posted by plátano frito (Post 2473)
Whoah, I think that's the longest post I've ever seen!

No, seriously that's a good explaination. Gracias.

You're welcome :)

too young February 11, 2007 06:44 PM

Sorry for posting it into the wrong section. This is the best advice I got so far, but it just comes out as a zzzzz or a dadadada or thhhhhhhhh. Am i doing something wrong?

Tomisimo February 11, 2007 07:07 PM

Actually you didn't post it in the wrong section at all. In the last couple of days I've been rearranging the forums so that's why I moved your thread. I even moved some of my own threads.

As far as your pronunciation goes, you might not be pronouncing it as bad as you think. There are native speakers that pronounce the rolled R as djjjjjjj In fact, now that I think about it, I have another explanation for how to pronounce the rolled r. Say the word 'just' and isolate the first sound of that word. It's a J. Now stop and think about it- it's at the same place in your mouth where you say a D. Kind of like 'djjjj'. Anyway, now try saying the name "Ricardo". The first R is a rolled R, so instead of saying Ricardo with an America R, say: (as if it were English) JRicardo. Not J-Ricardo. Try to say the J and the R together almost as one sound. Run them together. Use the same sound as the first sound in "just". Say: Jricardo. It's not the same rolled R as your teacher will show you, but there are native speakers that pronounce it that way, and you won't sound bad.

Hope that made sense. If not I'll explain it some more! :D

cmeadow2 February 12, 2007 10:34 AM

gracias por la ayudar.
yo atinar tu consejo mucho acomedirse.
I have had a lot of trouble with pronouncing my "rr"'s and your advice helps. I have repeated myself in english because i'm not sure i said it right in spanish.
Gracias Nuevemente.

Tomisimo February 12, 2007 12:00 PM

Glad to help with the pronunciation.


Originally Posted by cmeadow2 (Post 2498)
yo atinar tu consejo mucho acomedirse.
I have had a lot of trouble with pronouncing my "rr"'s and your advice helps. I have repeated myself in english because i'm not sure i said it right in spanish.
Gracias Nuevemente.

Since you mention that your Spanish might not be quite right, I'll give you some pointers.

yo atinar tu consejo mucho acomedirse.
Le atinaste con tu consejo! Gracias por acomedirte.

I'm not totally sure that's what you wanted to say... but figure out what I wrote and it'll help you keep learning.

BTW, does the 'P' in P. Oregon stand for Stumptown?

Julie March 07, 2007 07:03 PM

This is great...thank you!! Though my daughter is in the other room listening to me--"David...DUH..DUH...RRRRRR.." !!

fullbite March 10, 2007 09:03 PM

I do believe that my toungue is to short and thick to make the "rr" sound. Ive been trying for a week now. I can make a sound like it with the back of my toungue, using the part of the tongue that touches the roof of your mouth while making the K sound, but I know that is wrong. Making the JR sound is easy enough at the begining of a word but is not very convincing at the end of a word.Ill keep trying but I dont believe the front of my tongue is going to flap.

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