SSi Forum

Any Good Tips for Rolling Rs?


#1

Just what the title asks.

Having grown up in Quebec, Canada, I speak both English and French. Despite that, I never really mastered rolling my Rs. The closest I can get is a sound similar to the ch in achos. That isn’t much of an issue in French, since there isn’t a ch sound to confuse it with, but I would like to get a little closer to the actual sound for Welsh.

I realize that it isn’t a huge issue since I would likely be understood regardless, but if I can find a way to get it right, why not?


#2

There have been a few threads about this over the years with various different suggestions - here’s a couple:

Hopefully you’ll find something in those that works for you :slight_smile:


#3

Thanks.
While I feel I have a reasonably good aptitude for learning languages, the actual pronunciation can be a bit of a bugbear.


#4

In fact quite a few first language Welsh speakers can’t pronounce a ‘standard’ rolled ‘r’ - they do it instead by rolling the ‘r’ at the back of the throat in a similar way (to my ears, at least) to Parisian French :slightly_smiling_face:


#5

When I studied phonetics at university we weren’t examined on /r/ because some people literally cannot produce the sound. So if you really can’t do it, don’t panic.

That said I learned Spanish for six years and couldn’t make it, then randomly spontaneously produced it while walking down the street, singing ‘Under Pressure’ to myself.So it may well happen even if you’ve given up hope.


#6

Maybe. Strange things sometimes happen.


#7

That is my experience. I can occasionally produce the aveolar trill at random and then I wonder how the heck I did that. :slight_smile: I am finding the more I practice the letter Rh, the better I get at attempting the trill. I find after trying for 31 years to figure out how to do the trilled R, everybody achieves it differently.


#8

Shwmae. My best advice is to really think about how the sound is produced. Not every Welsh speaker naturally produces it, as has been said - for example there are a few of alternative ‘r’ sounds you hear - one in the back of the throat, rather like a ‘French’ r, one more live a ‘v’ sound, whilst some produce a ‘w’. However, I’d aim to try to roll it in a more standard way if possible.

The tip or front part of the tongue needs to just touch the front of the hard palate, not far behind the teeth. Then you say ‘r’ and vibrate the tongue.
It’s different to a guttural ‘French’ rolled ‘r’, as that is in the back of the throat.
If you like, message me and I can demonstrate via Zoom.


#9

Diolch. I wish I could get my tongue to vibrate.


#10

I learned how to roll my r’s after reading somewhere to practice the word ‘butter’ by saying it faster and faster to loosen up your tongue.
This helped me and I began to be able to roll my r’s.


#12

Diolch. I have not tried that yet. :slight_smile:


#13

Hi. Interesting to think about the French rolled R compared with the Welsh. They’re quite different - the French involves raising the rear of the tongue whereas the Welsh is all about the tip of the tongue against the hard palate (behind the top teeth).

My tip would be to start by saying ‘ana-ana-ana’ repeatedly (or ‘yn y’ in Welsh if you like) and notice where the tongue touches as it goes up and down. You could think of this as a ‘lazy’ phrase - not much effort is required to make the sound.

Then to change it to ‘ara-ara-ara’ with the rolled R (or ‘ar y’ yn Gymraeg), you keep exactly the same physical motion of the tongue going, but you add in a bit more effort - specifically a push of breath shooting past the tongue and encouraging it to vibrate slightly against the hard palate, in the same spot it was tapping in the ‘ana’ phrase. If you place your palm in front of your mouth you should feel puffs of breath which aren’t there with ‘ana’.

If you keep the breath going you can vibrate the tongue continually, making a ‘RRRRRR’ drone sound like a generator. In normal speech, the R would last for just 1-3 or these vibrations.

Hope this helps!