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fluffy October 31, 2014 05:26 AM

Pronouncing the 'R' in Spanish
Hi all

I have recently started to pay some attention to trying to pronouce the 'R'/'RR' correctly. Whilst I have always thought that I simply can't do it, I think I may be benifitting from my efforts.

Am I right in thinking midword (eg 'para' or 'caro') it's more like the D sound in the american pronounciation of 'butter', or in 'ladder'? In some words I find this difficult (eg quereis).

In terms of RR & R at the beginning of a word, well I supose it's just a question of practice..

That said, how important is it to really master this? I met a spansh language teacher once who said that even she couldn't roll Rs. I assume she wasn't too much of a problem for her.

Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.


Rusty October 31, 2014 03:17 PM

There are already a few threads on this topic.
See if here and here provide you with some thoughts.

Glen October 31, 2014 06:07 PM

Hello Chris, and like most native speakers of English I shared your experience with the sound of rr. The links Rusty provided are indeed helpful. Just to highlight one of their ideas, try to think of it not as "rolling" but rather (as regards the tip of the tongue) "flapping" or as some would say "vibrating," while visualizing the movement of the end of a flag in a high wind. This of course necessitates production of a strong breath of air to make the tip of the tongue vibrate freely. I myself have fallen into the habit of huffing a silent letter h into my rr's, with good results - much better than earlier futile attempts to "roll" the tongue through muscle power alone. Best of luck to you!

wrholt November 01, 2014 01:51 AM

Hi, Chris,

Rusty's links are a good place to start. One critical item is that in the middle of a word the spellings "r" and "rr" have different pronunciations.

Your observation that "r" (single letter) sounds a lot like the single-flapped "d" as in the American pronunciation of "butter", "ladder" and "latter" is correct. You might notice that this flap sound in English occurs only when the first syllable is stressed and the second syllable is unstressed. This may account for why you have trouble pronouncing "queréis", because the location of the stressed and unstressed syllables feels backward.

fluffy November 01, 2014 03:26 PM

Many thanks for your replies, it would very much appear this is common issue. The links and advice are very useful. Actually with continued practice I'm seeing some improvment.

Many thanks

philipgoetz February 23, 2019 05:41 AM

I never learned to roll an "R". My son is 4. We live in Texas. We speak some spanish. Hoping he can practice when young.

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