Thursday, 1 March 2012

perhaps-he-saurus

Megalosaurus, ichthyosaurus, stegosaurus, Tyrannosaurus rex — most nine-year-olds will be very familiar with the fact that -saurus -ˈsɔːrəs is a common ending for the names of dinosaurs.

Young dinosaur enthusiasts who live in England and other nonrhotic places are thereby well primed for jokes such as
   — What do you call a short-sighted dinosaur?
   — A “do-you-think-he-saw-us”!
where of course saw us is pronounced -ˈsɔːrəs with intrusive r.

Obviously, this joke would tend to fall flat in north America.

Rhotic speakers have to console themselves with lamer jokes like
   — What did the dinosaur say after the car crash?
   —“I’m-so-saurus”!
though I suppose even that one wouldn’t work for people who have distinct FORCE and NORTH vowels.

They’ll have to be content with
   —What do you call a dinosaur that smashes up everything in its path?
   —Tyrannosaurus wrecks!

A correspondent saw some interesting dinosaur money boxes in a gift shop in London. Each dinosaur was given a name formed from a child’s name plus -saurus, with the pronunciation shown in an ad-hoc respelling system.

What is interesting is that the respelling system assumes intrusive r as a matter of course, so that “saw us” is seen as an adequate indication of how to pronounce -saurus. My correspondent comments that this produces the wrong pronunciation for a rhotic speaker like him.

Clearly this gift shop is not going to be catering for the Scottish, Irish or American markets.

84 comments:

  1. I was somewhat surprised to hear consistently [drɔːrɪŋz] in the audio-guide commentary on the current Picasso exhibition at the Tate Britain.

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  2. Max

    I suspect it was the unusually concentrated listening and the unusually frequent repetition of the word that created the surprise.

    Whenever I make a conscious effort to detect an intrusive -r in drawing — from an RP speaker, of course — I generally hear one. There's a lot of it about — even if we don't usually notice.

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    1. "There's a lot of it about — even if we don't usually notice".

      While it is probably true that non-rhotic speakers (who number less than half of the world's native speakers of English), I'm sure this is not the case to the majority, who are rhotic speakers.

      I'm fairly confident that rhotic speakers do not generally notice a linking r (car owner); however, they normally notice false linking r (law and order), and definitely notice intrusive r within a word (drawing).

      This blog entry immediately made me think of the Saturday Night Live character "Simon", whose recurring sketch is based on intrusive r in drawing. The actor, Mike Myers, is Canadian with British parents.

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    2. nedecky

      When I wrote "There's a lot of it about — even if we don't usually notice", I was thinking of the speech community within which intrusive-r was a possibility.

      If those who poke fun at Laura Norder were really as distinct from the rest of us as they think they are, then their perception would be the same as that of rhotic speakers.

      I don't see why rhotic speakers should recognise linking-r performed by non-rhotic speakers as anything other than liaison.

      I believe you're writing from America — or at any rate from a rhotic-speaker environment. I wonder whether Americans, Scots, irish speakers living in in predominately non-rhotic environments are equally sensitive to intrusive-r.

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    3. Hi David,

      I agree with what you say, (except I don't quite understand you in the second paragraph about law and order).

      My point was that, to a rhotic speaker, intrusive r sounds so odd, while, as you say, to a non-rhotic speaker, it is hardly noticed, if all all. That's very interesting.

      Linking r is certainly like liaison. Indeed, in the case of normal linking r, the letter is written. To our ears, the intrusive linking r is what stands out because r is nowhere in the word. When first encountered by a rhotic speaker, it sounds as odd as r slipped randomly into any other word where it doesn't appear on the page would to a non-rhotic speaker.

      And so, intrusive r is like a false liaison. In French, there are very few: quatre yeux (with z) is about the only one that immediately springs to mind.

      As a rhotic speaker with a great affinity for British television and with British friends and family, I (sort of) fall into the category of people you describe in the last paragraph. For me, normal linking r goes by without me noticing, but the intrusive r always jumps out at me — even when I'm not actively considering the speaker's accent.

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    4. nedecky

      Something that slowly dawned on me after I first wrote to you is that Mike Myers' draw-r-ing sounds odd even to me. It's the sort of exaggeration I associate with childish speech — which would seem appropriate for the sketch. Alternatively, it might be a slight exaggeration of his habitual intrusive-r — an exaggeration which he has found to amuse an American rhotic audience.

      As I've already written, to me both drawing and snoring have a briefer, less energetic r than jaw ring or door ring.

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    5. I agree on all accounts. By the way, I'm writing from Canada.

      The fact that this linguistic phenomenon should warrant an entire sketch speaks volumes to how striking it is to those who are not accustomed to it. Of course, the childlike exaggeration is part of the satirical take.

      I am used to altering my own rhotic accent for singing English repertoire. The linking r happens nearly effortlessly on "autopilot" in my adopted accent. My instinctive response falls short of making intrusive r, though. If I really did want them in, I'd actually have to think about adding these r consonant sounds.

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    6. I think of that as simply the definition of herb, not a mnemonic for anything, and Dr. Google seems to agree. If I heard another American say Herb (which has /h/) instead herb, I would be inclined to laugh (or politely suppress my laughter), rather than to think of it as a "natural mistake".

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    7. @nedecky:

      You don't make clear what kind of music you're singing, but the word "repertoire" suggests possibly classical music -- in which intrusive R is usually discouraged. I certainly wouldn't recommend making an effort to insert it!

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    8. Yes, I agree. It isn't appropriate for art song/opera. That's why I write "if I really did want them in", which is to say: I don't.

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    9. David: Rhotic Americans are very sensitive to intrusive /r/. JFK, who was non-rhotic, was mocked for saying "Cuber" instead of "Cuba", but listening to his speech makes it clear that he uses "Cuber" only before vowels.

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    10. Would it be fair to compare the way a rhotic speaker would perceive intrusive /r/ to the way a non-rhotic might perceive intrusive /l/?

      E.g. "Asia-r-and Africa" might sound, to a rhotic speaker, as odd as "Asia-l-and Africa" to a non-rhotic (or indeed to anyone lacking intrusive L)?

      My tentative sense is that intrusive /r/ is slightly, but only slightly, less odd sounding, because /l/ is a slightly more obstruent consonant than approximant /r/. But since I'm only a non-native rhotic speaker, I'd be interested to hear what a native rhotician makes of it.

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  3. The lack of intrusive-r in AmEng didn't stop the scriptwriters of Jurassic Park from putting the "Do-you-think-he-saw-us" joke into the film, for some reason. Perhaps it was the best dinosaur joke they could come up with.

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    1. I was thinking precisely the same! That movie line immediately came into my mind and I suppose I never realized until now that it doesn't really work precisely as it could in a non-rhotic dialect.

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  4. Surely intrusive R is the default in England now - maybe even word-internally as in drawing. I say "default" rather than "standard" because it's still not accepted as standard.

    But the rule that states you should pronounce a linking R only where it's "etymologically" (or rather, orthographically) justified is surely a prescriptive affectation. If your accent merges the THOUGHT and NORTH/FORCE vowels, then you can't unmerge them at will - not unselfconsciously anyway, and not without thinking about the spelling.

    That's why we don't usually notice. It's a phonological zombie rule.

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    1. I'd really like to know the facts here. My impression is that there are not so few people who do make a difference (in different degrees!), and not because they try to but because that's how they grew up.

      I'm perfectly aware of the fact that lots of people do have an intruding R, but I just can't easily believe it's the default, let alone inside a word. Just looks a bit like wishful thinking, or counter-snobbery, or the superior feeling of progressive expert knowledge.

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    2. But the rule that states you should pronounce a linking R only where it's "etymologically" (or rather, orthographically) justified is surely a prescriptive affectation.

      Aren't all such rules, by definition, "prescriptive affectations"?

      If your accent merges the THOUGHT and NORTH/FORCE vowels, then you can't unmerge them at will - not unselfconsciously anyway, and not without thinking about the spelling.

      Although I believe that our good host, in "Accents of English", declares that he personally lacks intrusive R after THOUGHT (which he otherwise merges with FORCE). I don't think he says anything about NORTH so perhaps he could let us know whether he has linking R in "war and peace".

      I guess that shows that the merger is not complete for him. FWIW, my grandmother (born 1918) also lacks intrusive R after THOUGHT.

      Incidentally after living in the US for 15 years I have now pretty much "gone rhotic", and intrusive R now sticks out like a sore (saw?) thumb for me :) -- but I think it was the last aspect of nonrhoticity to go. But I suppose that must have been accomplished to some extent by "thinking about the spelling".

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    3. I have potential LINKING (etymological) r everywhere, so yes in "war and peace".

      For what it's worth, my youngest brother (three and a half years younger than me) does have intrusive r after "saw" etc. So how is it that I don't? It must have been the outbreak of war in 1939 that was responsible for the final collapse of resistance... (I'd love to have recordings of us both aged, say, ten.)

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    4. @JW:

      Oh well -- there goes my theory that this distinction might be a relic of the NORTH/FORCE split! That would require a total absence of R-sandhi after NORTH/THOUGHT.

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    5. Pete, vp,

      if you think that "the rule that states you should pronounce a linking R only where it's "etymologically" (or rather, orthographically) justified is surely a prescriptive affectation", how do you explain that French children make a difference between words beginning with a vowel or an h muet and those with an h aspiré?

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    6. Lipman

      how do you explain that French children make a difference between words beginning with a vowel or an h muet and those with an h aspiré?

      Are you implying what I take to be the reason — namely that the words are mentally stored in different lexical sets?

      In Accents of English John opposes to explain his own phonology (with no intrusive-r) either by underlying ɔə in FORCE words or by a special marker in THOUGHT words. Either way, the result is two lexical sets with a single vowel (ɔ:) on the surface.

      By contrast, I seem to have a single NORTH-FORCE-THOUGHT lexical set — with an underlying /r/ in all words.

      This seems to parallel the French h-words — and, indeed, English h-words. In English, it's transparently a question of where to store each word since disputed examples like herb are so rare, and questionable example like historic so stylistically marked.

      While it's possible that the American herb pronunciation is a learned prescription, it's hard to see how large lexical sets like FORCE or THOUGH or French h-word sets are so vulnerable. Surely a critical mass of words in each set is formed long before writing and education sets in. Of course, spelling may have a significant role in reinforcing which set we store our words in.

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    7. Are you implying what I take to be the reason — namely that the words are mentally stored in different lexical sets?

      Maybe less in lexical sets as that there is an additional piece of phonemic information. Otherwise you'd have to set up a lot of separate lexical sets for COMMA vs VICAR &c.

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    8. @Lipman:

      If you think that "the rule that states you should pronounce a linking R only where it's "etymologically" (or rather, orthographically) justified is surely a prescriptive affectation", how do you explain that French children make a difference between words beginning with a vowel or an h muet and those with an h aspiré?

      If French children make this distinction effortlessly, then it must be stored in the phonological specification of these words in their brains.

      It's the fact that contemporary RP-like speakers generally do _not_ seem to make such distinctions effortlessly (see Hannisdal etc.) that suggests that such distinctions (including the comma/vicar one you cite above) are not stored in this way.

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    9. @David Crosbie:

      While it's possible that the American herb pronunciation is a learned prescription,

      I'm pretty confident that the vast majority of /h/-less "herb"ers learned the pronunciation in the normal way, just as they learned /h/less "heir", "hono(u)r", etc.

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    10. So how do you explain that there are differences, eg that not everybody has intruding rs everywhere?

      I think the answer is really that, as opposed to the French attitude, there's more variety and so, more influences.

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    11. Lipman

      Otherwise you'd have to set up a lot of separate lexical sets for COMMA vs VICAR &c.

      Why not?

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    12. vp

      I'm pretty confident that the vast majority of /h/-less "herb"ers learned the pronunciation in the normal way,

      I'll take your word for it. What made me suspect otherwise is that different Americans have quoted to me the schoolroom mnenonic An herb is a useful plant.

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    13. @Lipman:
      So how do you explain that there are differences, eg that not everybody has intruding rs everywhere?

      Hannisdal goes into this in some detail. If I remember correctly, she finds a number of factors that tend to promote or inhibit R-sandhi -- I think that short, grammatical words (such as "or" and "are") tend to have R-sandhi, while proper names tend not to do so. The presence of an /r/ in the vicinity also tends to inhibit R-sandhi.

      However, most of the factors she finds operate equally on linking R and intrusive R -- it's just that there are very few short grammatical words that are candidates for intrusive R, and many proper names that are ("America", "Obama", etc.).

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    14. David,

      [separate lexical sets for COMMA vs VICAR &c.]

      Why not?


      It simply doesn't seem practical. Doesn't change the reality, of course; it's just a matter of description. What I wanted to point out is that the phenomenon isn't limited to NORTH and (or versus) FORCE, and THOUGHT for linking r.

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    15. vp,

      I admit it doesn't make much sense for me to go on arguing until I've read that chapter. If there's really no difference between linking and intruding r, and the speakers aren't speaking acquired RP (or its current equivalent) and they don't represent an untypical group, eg in age, all right.

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    16. @Lipman:

      I wouldn't go so far as to say that there is "no difference between linking and intruding R" -- clearly there is, since intrusive R is still overtly stigmatized (if not as much as it used to be) in some contexts -- elocution, classical singing, etc However, when one looks at the way words seem to be stored in non-rhotic speakers' brains -- the linguistic id rather than the superego, as it were -- the evidence seems to indicate that there is no difference at that level.

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    17. Might be. But it just seems a bit ideological sometimes, and I don't think it's useful to define RP (or its current &c.) basically by excluding those who show RP features, dismissing them as artificial, obsolete, reactions to stigmatised pronunciations and the like.

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    18. @Lipman:

      But it just seems a bit ideological sometimes, and I don't think it's useful to define RP (or its current &c.) basically by excluding those who show RP features, dismissing them as artificial, obsolete, reactions to stigmatised pronunciations and the like.

      As far as I can see, no one is doing that.

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    19. Lipman

      What I wanted to point out is that the phenomenon isn't limited to NORTH and (or versus) FORCE, and THOUGHT for linking r.

      Yes, but it is limited to two varieties of V(r). That makes four lexical sets for my two in 'orthodox' RP as spoken by John W.

      JW...............................Me
      (1) FORCE/NORTH......(1) FORCE/NORTH/THOUGHT
      (2) THOUGHT
      (3) vicAR.....................(2) vicAR/commA
      (4) commA

      Any new word that I hear with final ə I store in My lexical set (20, and thus 'know' it to be capable of linking-r and intrusive-r. And yes, I do have an r-sound in comma-itis.

      But it just seems a bit ideological sometimes

      That's because we have to defend ourselves against an ideology in which the letter is primary.

      And it's a little galling that those who poke fun at Laura Norder and drawring are quite capable of at the very least comma-r-and colon. It used to be India-r-Office.

      I'd forgotten which nineteenth-century phonetician fist remarked on this. Then I found a reference on JWL's blog: it was Henry Sweet.

      Surely the force which makes speakers deny to themselves that they make an r-sound is their conscious knowledge that there is no r in the spelling. If this awareness affects their self-monitoring, it's not too fanciful to suggest that it might affect their performance.

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    20. Lipman

      Otherwise you'd have to set up a lot of separate lexical sets for COMMA vs VICAR &c.

      What both of us forgot this that John did precisely that: commA and lettER.

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    21. Was that for vs -ə(r)? I haven't the book at hand (I read a library copy some time ago, should get one already), but I suspect it was rather about rhotic dialects (ə vs ɚ) or the tendency of some to make a difference between ə and ɐ.

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    22. No, seems (courtesy of Amazon "look inside!") you're right, it's simply about -ə vs -ər in general.

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    23. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    24. Lipman

      An interesting point about the commA lexical set: John sees them as relative upstarts, words with orthographic final a which have all entered English in the last half millennium.

      Perhaps this is why, among non-rhotic speakers, the set struggles to maintain its distinctive integrity in view of the frequent synonymy with lettER words.

      I don't know how systematic it might be, but I wonder if there's something of a parallel with those imported words with orthographic a but representing a stressed vowel which make up most of the PALM set. Is it too fanciful to say that both the commA set and the PALM set are threatened — not universally but for certain accents — by the more established (numerically and historically) sets of lettER, TRAP and BATH?

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    25. Which accents? Those that have commɚ are there already, and the others have an established schwa etc., don't they?

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    26. @David Crosbie:


      I think the commA set is secure in rhotic accents (at least in North America). While a recent addition to the English language, it's extremely well-populated now with proper names, loans and neologisms.

      Does any accent has a distinctively pronounced PALM set? In all non-rhotic accents it's merged with START: in nearly all North American accents with LOT; in nearly all Scottish accents with TRAP.

      The only possible exceptions I can think of are
      * rhotic Boston accents
      * Scottish accents without the PALM/TRAP merger
      * Irish accents
      * maybe some Caribbean?

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    27. vp

      As I read John's treatment, the PALM set is fragmented in GenAm, much of it merging with LOT while the rest of the words fluctuate between LOT and TRAP. Have I read him aright?

      In non-rhotic accents, PALM would seem to differ or not from START in just the same way that THOUGHT differs or not from FORCE/NORTH. If you can't say mɑ:rm̩ pɑ: for ma and pa, then presumably you have two sets, not one, in your mental lexicon.

      The conclusion seems to be that in non-rhotic accents, sets disintegrate not so much under the influence of orthographic a or according to longevity in the language, but rather under the attraction of sets with vestigial r. ('Vestigial' = retained intervocalically.)
      Thus:

      START swallows PALM
      FORCE/NORTH swallows THOUGHT
      lettER swallows commA

      At least, that's the ultimate result, but for many speakers the assimilation is incomplete.

      I don't think there's a set for CURE to swallow. The putative pair skua vs skewer is just special cases of commA vs lettER.

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  5. Lipman

    My impression is that there are not so few people who do make a difference (in different degrees!), and not because they try to but because that's how they grew up.

    A lot of people think they make a difference. (Not me, I know that intrusive-r is my default in all positions.) In John's case, we have to believe him. But I wouldn't trust the self-reporting of most non-phoneticians.

    What we need is an experiment along the lines of Labov's Fourth floor — elicited twice to compare spontaneous and considered enunciation. The sort of survey that John used for the LPD won't do at all.

    My own impression — which may be very wide of the mark — is that most RP-speakers have an obvious r in vodka and orange and briefer, less energetic r in drawing. But I think the same is true for pepper and salt and snoring.

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    1. Don't misunderstand me: I agree about people's erroneous self-perception in this matter. I'm just sceptical about the claim that intruding r is the default.

      My guess is:

      - no linking or intruding r: foreigners
      - perfectly etymological: well trained foreigners
      - mostly linking, some intruding:
      A. people who want to get rid of their rhotic or intruding-r accent
      B. more people who grew up with it than the excited, modern phonetician thinks
      - mostly linking and intruding, even at morpheme boundaries: more people than they think themselves

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    2. @Lipman:

      You may want to look at Hannisdal's dissertation. She was studying UK newsreaders, mostly reading from written scripts -- one of the most formal styles possible. Nevertheless, even in this formal style (and with the written script to prompt for the presence/absence of orthographic R), nearly every newsreader had some intrusive R.

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    3. Yes, some, exactly. Less than a third, with great variety between the speakers. (Thanks for the link, btw.)

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    4. Yes, but a speaker whose internal phonological representation distinguished between linking-R and intrusive-R would, like rhotic speakers, effortlessly have _zero_ intrusive R.

      Only 3 out of the 30 newsreaders achieved this. This does tend to lend weight to Pete's contention that avoidance of intrusive-R, in contemporary RP-like accents, is a somewhat artificial condition consciously layered on top of a speaker's natural phonology.

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    5. I haven't yet read the dissertation, but I stumbled on the claim made in the opening pages (which I have often seen before) that RP has no geographical restrictions. The parochiality of this is breathtaking; indeed, positively American.

      I wonder about the claim which follows it, that it has no social-class restrictions either. Are there really RP speakers who are not only born into the working class in Britain but have remained in it?

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    6. vp, I think it's well possible to be somewhere in between the two poles, and that, in fact, the large majority of speakers are. The cause for this is simply that even without any conscious attempt at changing your "natural" language, you're surrounded by people who speak in all different points of the continuum.

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  6. I have fully merged NORTH=FORCE, like most Americans. Nevertheless, the I'm-so-saurus joke does not work for me, because sorry is LOT=PALM (with the /r/ solely in the next syllable) whereas -saurus is THOUGHT (ditto), and like perhaps half of all Americans I don't have LOT=THOUGHT. I think it works for some people who don't have the latter merger because they use /ɔ/ rather than /ɑ/ in sorry, which for me is homophonous with sari. (Anomalously, I do have the hurry-furry merger in full.)

    I think that intrusive /r/ stands out more for Americans because we don't have many non-rhotics to begin with, and of those that we do have, a great many lack intrusive /r/, namely AAVE speakers, who say things like /fɔ.ə/ for for a.

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    1. John, I think the joke for "I'm-so-saurus" was supposed to be "sore", not "sorry".

      (Using NORTH/FORCE in "sorry" is most strongly associated with Canadians, although it's attested elsewhere in North America to a lesser extent as well.)

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  7. For my rhotic money, the most intrusive intrusive /r/ is in "withdrawal"; for me (with)drawal:drawl::real:reel

    Near-homonym puns are more groan-inducing than perfect homonyms, and inducing groans is surely the point of a pun. I enjoyed the Wallace & Gromit sheep name "Shaun" [="shorn"] all the more for having separate THOUGHT, NORTH and FORCE vowels.

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    1. Interesting. I "accept" such puns or rhymes, but somehow regret they don't work for me. And I think puns with perfect homonyms are less groan-inducing, all other factors equal, but funnier.

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    2. Lipman: Well, here you go: Three brothers inherited a cattle ranch from their father and worked it together. They decided to name the ranch Focus, because that's where the sun's rays meet.

      The first two puns are perfect in any accent, the third in all except a few: parts of Yorkshire, the West Country, and Ireland, and regressive in all three cases. Do you groan? Are they funny?

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    3. Agree completely - assuimng that that was a somewhat rhetorical question and that you find it more groansome than funny.

      I'm convinced that in the classic 'fork handles' sketch the humour is enhanced rather than reduced by the fact that several of the puns rely on the H-dropping in the Cockney accent and that the final punchline is contrived to the point that it would probably be missed entirely except for having seen the rest of the sketch leading up to it (and being familiar with British slang).

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    4. P.S. there's a non-rhotic pun in the sketch as well...

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    5. @John Cowan:

      Three brothers inherited a cattle ranch from their father and worked it together. They decided to name the ranch Focus, because that's where the sun's rays meet.

      It took me about a minute to get that one, partly because I hadn't fully woken up at the time, but also because the suprasegmentals are so different for me:

      the (1) sun's (2) rays (3) meet (1)

      vs.

      the (1) sons (2) raise (2) meat (3)

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    6. Funnier than if they weren't good puns.

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  8. I'm pretty sure I have nearly fully intrusive R in normal speech, and hearing do-you-think-he-saurus works for me perfectly as a pun, but despite that saw-us doesn't work for me at all as an imitated pronunciation. I guess I'd just assume it was meant to be read "carefully", i.e. without intrusive R.

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    1. Thinking about it some more, I also think that I'd be quite slow to recognise -saurus and saw-us as homophones on seeing them in writing (despite, as I say, treating them as such in normal speech). I think that actually seeing the orthography must count for a lot.

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  9. You might want to look at the ad for Dinosaur Adventure that I posted here.

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  10. I used to be warned against and disadvised from such r-intrusive pronunciations as 'saur us' or 'the idear is' or such-like by a couple of educated Englishmen in the nineties. They said such pronunciation was 'vulgar'. Maybe what they meant was that no non-native English speaker should imitate it? I imitated it subconsciously, without spending much thought on't.

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  11. When I was teaching English in Hungary I came to object to the term "intrusive r" and refer(ed) to it as "linking r", since it is the normal way of speaking in England. I compare(d) it with "linking y" and "linking w" in "he and I" and "to and fro" respectively.

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  12. but isn't 'y' sound in 'he' everywhere, and 'w' in 'to' even before a pause? While 'r' is not sounded in a pre-pausal position, though. Neither is it in 'for' and yet it is OK to say 'fo-r-and against'.... . Strange. Yet the despisers of the 'r' who discouraged me repeatedly to say 'he saw-r-us' might have had a point, e'en though they couched it in inappropriate terms: such pronunciation is 'native' in a way which no NNS is supposed to imi- or emulate.

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    1. Wojciech

      but isn't 'y' sound in 'he' everywhere, and 'w' in 'to' even before a pause?

      'Linking sound's — i.e. liaison of r, j, and w —sounds is one of the devices used between by native speakers to maintain the rhythm of spoken English, especially at higher speeds of delivery. Some speakers use different devices at word-final boundary, but liaison is easy to teach: easily demonstrated, easily represented in print, and easily copied.

      We teach liaison not because it's 'right' but because we think it will help students to sound more fluent — in the sense of 'flowing, not jerky'. Personally, I believe that for competent non-native speakers, unnatural rhythm is a greater barrier to communication than inauthentic vowel or consonant sounds.

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    2. yes, but I meant something else: "who did it?" "He (pause)" (if it's not "him"). No 'y' (j) sounded here? "Where are you going to?" No 'w' here? In both cases the answer is 'yes', methinks (i.e. yes, there is a 'j' a 'w', respectively). Is that wrong? Whereas, in 'You are going where?' -- there is no 'r' sounded here, in a non-rhotic English. Still less in 'Cut this tree down with that saw'. I mean, you always sound a 'j', be it a feeble one, at the end of your 'he' and a 'w' at the end of your 'to', whether you be a NS or not; whereas with the final 'r' matters are different, and maybe even depend on whether the 'r' be spelt or not.

      In various languages, not just in English, there is, as I know from my own painful and sometimes humiliating experience of one who tried to speak 'naturally' various tongues, a limit of what a NNS is allowed to take over from natural speech of NSs. Natural, flowing, the things you're saying above --- yes, that's correct, but there next to always is a no-go zone for a NNS. Or, to put it with Horace, 'modus [...] [quem] ultra citraque nequit consistere rectum'. Whether the borderline of this zone in English runs along the intrusive-r words, I am of course not in the least pretending to be positive about, just asking.

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    3. The distinction that Wojciech is pointing out is that the j and w that Dadge calls "linking y" and "linking w" are closely related to i and u, the vowels they follow. Take the vowel, close it a little more, and you have a linking consonant. And I think Wojciech is right that the same closing happens before a pause, or at the end of an utterance.

      Whereas the linking r is a truly added sound that has no relation to the sounds in either word.

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    4. Ellen

      Omitting an r-sound before a pause is no more significant than omitting it before a consonant sound. For all non-rhotic speakers, there's simple test: if you add a morpheme starting with a vowel — such as ing — any underlying r-sound will be articulated.

      For non-rhotics in general:
      snore+PAUSE ⇒ snɔ:
      snore+ing ⇒ snɔ:riŋ
      vicar+PAUSE ⇒ ˈvɪkə
      vicar+age⇒ ˈvɪkərɪdʒ

      For r-intruders like me, it's the same:
      draw+PAUSE ⇒ drɔ:
      draw+ingdrɔ:riŋ
      comma+PAUSE ⇒ ˈkɔmə
      comma+itisˈkɔmər ̩aɪtɪs

      'Linking-r' in the narrow sense is identical to intervocalic-r in FORCE/NORTH words like snore and lettER words like vicar. Far from being a 'truly added sound that has no relation to the sound in either word' it's the realisation of a phoneme that is suppressed in other contexts.

      Dadge chooses to extend the term linking-r to embrace THOUGHT words like draw and commA words like comma — rejecting the usual term intrusive-r. This makes sense for those with a demonstrable underlying r-phoneme in these words.

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    5. Wojciech

      When we teach 'linking j' and 'linking w' we focus not on the quality of the sound but on the fact that it substitutes for silence between words. And that's exactly what 'linking-r' does.

      There's no need to dwell on the quality of any of the three 'linking' sounds. Each is identical (or as near as makes no difference) to its equivalent intervocalic sound.

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    6. Ad David,

      I understand that 'un, but I thought that a word like 'he' always has, no matter if before a vowel or a pause, a possibly feeble 'j' at the end of it, and so does 'to' with respect to 'w', except when it's 't-schwa'. Ain't that so? But 'comma' if prepausal does not have any -r at the end of it, no matter how poorly audible. So small wonder that 'j' substitutes for silence between 'he' and something else, for instance 'and', or 'w' between 'to' and something else, for instance 'and' in 'to and fro'. (In Dutch, an analogous 'j' and 'w' occur even between syllables in the same word, for instance in 'oce(j)aan' 'po(w)ëzie', Dutch long vowels 'e' and 'o' are slightly diphthongal, as were the English ones before they became full-blown diphthongs.) And not so small wonder that we do say too 'comma-r-and period' or such-like. I of course know the explanation, but still... those Englishmen who taught me NOT to say 'droring' or 'the idea riz' might have had a point---or might not, it's for you to decide. BTW I still say such-like, their warnings nothwithstanding, unrepentant that I am.

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    7. Wojciech

      I understand that 'un, but I thought that a word like 'he' always has, no matter if before a vowel or a pause, a possibly feeble 'j' at the end of it, and so does 'to' with respect to 'w', except when it's 't-schwa'. Ain't that so?

      I don't really understand the question. To be sure, in my speech the tongue is in the articulatory position for those sounds at the end of he and to. But that doesn't mean that I articulate them. Neither my FLEECE vowel not my GOOSE vowel is a diphthong or anything approaching a diphthong.

      With linking-j I hold the front-of-tongue in position while moving the rest of the tongue to articulate the following vowel. With inking-w I hold the bilabial closure in positions while moving the tongue for the following vowel. With pre-pausal he and to it doesn't matter whether or not I hold my tongue or lips in position; the breath stops and so does the sound.

      If you're asking whether my FLEECE and GOOSE vowels are diphthongs, then my answer is no. Other speakers may say yes.

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    8. Wojciech

      PS to the above...

      The other huge difference between linking j/w and the articulation before a pause is that there's a release. With linking-j, just as in any other j the front of tongue opens up. With linking-w just as in any other w the lips move to whatever configuration is required by the following vowel.

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    9. David

      OK, so your English vowel system, as far as FLEECE and GOOSE go, is different from Mr. Lindsay's. http://englishspeechservices.com/vowels.htm. Right?

      Good, absolutely no quarrel with that. But I mean, even in your variant, there is an 'articulatory justification' if I may say so completely untechnically, for a linking 'j' to appear after 'he' and a linking 'w' to appear after 'to' if it's not t-schwa. Position of the tongue and so on... . Whereas, there is no such articulatory justification for a linking 'r' to appear after 'comma' or 'idea'. The explanation why so many people use a non-spelt linking 'r' being different, having nothing to do with the tongue's position and such. This may lie at the bottom of the view of those (English persons I met) who hold or held that 'droring' or 'the idea riz' is 'vulgar' (whatever that precisely means). A pronunciation which continues to be mine, btw, despite those persons' stern admonitions.

      I am personally fond of 'liaisons', generally. In English, French, Dutch, Swiss German ... in these latter two, the linking consonant is 'n'. 'Wie-n-er wänd', 'as you will' (Standard German 'wie ihr wollt'.) Lovely.

      btw there is a 'vulgar' pronunciation of 'fellow' -- feller, fella. Now would you imagine anyone (non-rhotic) saying 'this fella r-and me'? Or is this 'vulgar' form too American and thereby rhotic? But this cannot be, methinks: an 'ow' can get weakened to a schwa, but not to an American 'r'... or is that wrong?

      btw I remember once having heard a Welsh person, bilingual Welsh-English, RP-ish, then in her thirties (it was like 1987) saying 'kayp', 'hay' and so on for 'keep', 'he' --- at least it sounded like that to my ear (the first element of this diphhthong was very narrow but not so narrow as the normal FIT-vowel, not even in her English).

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    10. Btw --- what about 'drawer'? For those persons I mentioned previously 'this drora riz empty' is vulgar square. Even I sort of shrink back from saying anything like that... you don't?

      Anyway, as the immortal James Russell Lowell from Connecticut once remarked: 'If you take your sawd and draw rit,/ and go stick your fella thru/Guvment ain't to answer faw rit:/ God will send the bill to you'.

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  13. Wojciech

    1. The link to Mr Lindsay doesn't work on my server.

    2. My 'articulatory justification' is that my tongue does indeed position itself for a following r. At the end of a THOUGHT or commA word, the body of my tongue is posed and ready; it only requires a slight lifting and retraction of the tip to form my version of r.

    In all three cases, the linking j/w/r allows a continent glide to co-occur with the transition to the next vowel. We perceive the linking sound because we perceive the point of transition between glide and vowel. Linking-j is perceived at the point when the partial closure is relaxed. Linking-w is perceived when the lip-rounding is relaxed. Linking-r is perceived when the tip of the tongue moves down to allow the tongue as a whole to assume the poison for the vowel.

    As I've said before, it isn't the position of the articulators that gives rise to the linking sound. It's the linking sound that governs the transitional movements of the articulators. And the linking sound is motivated be the desire to maintain rhythm at speed. Linking is top-down driven, not bottom-up.

    3. There is indeed prejudice against such pronunciations as this fella-r-and me. The usual target is law-r-and-order written by critics as Laura Norder. Most writers on this thread have chosen to distinguish this as intrusive-r rather than linking-r. I shouldn't let it worry you. The critics are of no account, and not infrequently break their own rules without realising it..

    More interesting is the existence of the spelling feller. I don't think anybody much regards fellow and feller as different words. The OED has entries for both fella and feller. the quotes for the later are all British authors. In Britain, it seems, we generally allow new words into the commA set if they have orthographic a spelling. But fella/feller comes not from writing but from speech — and not from a foreign language but from existing Englsh.

    Which reminds me:

    The rain it raineth every day
    Upon the just and unjust feller
    But chiefly on the just because
    The unjust nicked the just's umbrella


    4. ðɪs ˈdrɔrɪz ˈɛmti is fine by me. I don't' know anybody who says drɔ:rə for the furniture. The 'person who draws' is another word with another phonology — because -er feels like the productive agentive suffix that it historically is. In the LPD John gives:

    sliding container drɔ: ║drɔ:r
    one who draws drɔ:ʳə ║drɒ:‿ᵊr

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  14. Ah, sorry, thank you, I was completely confused about the pronunciation of 'drawer' in the sense of sliding containe, I thought it was 'drɔ:(r)ə'.

    In this way I now know I have pronounced this word wrongly all my life.

    Re linking I'd only say: when I say 'he' and then 'or she', I don't have to do anything with my speech organs for it to become 'he your she'. Whereas, if I don't do anything to/with my speech organs in 'drawer' in the sense of 'one who draws', it becomes 'drɔ:ə' rather than 'drɔ:rə'. Maybe because I am Polish. In Polish, we neither insert linking consonants, nor elide vowels in a vowel-vowel group (the way, say, Italians do): we let them (two vowels) peacefully coexist.

    Do you know other examples of -ow getting weaken'd to a schwa? Yellow, mellow, fallow, swallow, burrow, sorrow, --- anything amongst such-like?

    Re critics breaking their own rules: well, a preposition is a very bad word to end a sentence with, as we know...

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  15. Wojciech

    1. I think the relevant difference between Polish and the non-rhotic accents of English is the articulation of the r. If I understand correctly, you make tongue contact either as a roll or as a flap (against the alveoar ridge? or the hard palate?). My r is every bit as much a continuant as j and w. For it, my tongue is positioned in almost the exact position for ə.

    This would seem not unrelated to the historical process by which ə appears to have displaced r in NEAR, SQUARE, FORCE, CURE and lettER words in accents affected by the London fashion. Alas, the theory falls down with START and NORTH words which didn't have a ə element.

    2. Yellow, mellow, fallow, swallow, burrow, sorrow, all have the potential to behave like fellow. But they would be heard as nonstandard — possibly as mock yokel. Even so, some have found their way into imitative (or simply dialectal) spellings recorded by the OED:

    yeller, US yaller, yallah — all eighteenth century
    mella, mellah, meller — regional eighteenth century
    sorra, sorra — eighteenth century
    soara, soaroo, sora — nineteenth century.

    If you see and -er spellings in contemporary writing, it's safe to assume that the writer aims to convey dialect — or mock dialect.

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    Replies
    1. Correction

      • sorra, sorra — eighteenth century

      The second spelling should have an apostrophe: sorra'.

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    2. Alas, the theory falls down with START and NORTH words which didn't have a ə element.

      It seems quite plausible, indeed likely, that the START vowel transitioned from [ɑr] to [ɑː] via [ɑə], likewise, mutatis mutandis for NORTH.

      Because the glide element of [ɑə] is much less salient than that of, say, [iə], it is much more easily lost.

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    3. vp

      Yes but that would have been different. According to John's analysis in The Accents of English the ə element in NEAR, SQUARE, FORCE and PURE appeared (in John's term 'breaking') before the process of R-dropping.

      I'd been hoping to see a patter of ə displacing r. Your analysis of START has largely-displaced-r inviting ə to fill the vacuum.

      Still, both the push of ə and the pull of largely-displaced-r reflects how similar the articulatory realisation of the two sounds was and is — in certain accents.

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    4. Well, it could quite easily have been

      ɑr -> ɑər -> ɑə -> ɑː

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  16. thank you gentlemen. I am almost convinced.

    I have obviously borne in mind all along that the English 'r' is different from the Polish 'r' and whenever I speak English (not very often) I employ what I for better or worse hold to be an approximation of the former rather than the latter for the letter 'r' (which I do not read out anyway most of the time, since I was taught non-rhotic English) but ... I still have to realise that whenever I say 'comma or period' this becomes 'comma raw period' quite naturally, without an additional effort, movement of the tongue, or such. But it _does_ become 'comma raw period', and 'the idea riz' with me, may they condemn it ever so ferociously.

    My Polish 'r' is rather flappy, hard palate. I must invest much effort into rolling it in Spanish, la rrrebelion de las masas, rrriu rrriu chiu, la guarda rrribera, and such-like. Difficult sound.

    Concerning the exact mechanism of r-deletion preconsonantally and prepausally: contemporary German is at it, its diverse dialects and variants have reached various stages of r-lessness, why won't you study it?

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