Thursday 25 November 2010

intrusive r in ODP

The Oxford Dictionary of Pronunciation for Current English, to give it its full title, was published by OUP in 2001, edited by Clive Upton, William A. Kretschmar Jr. and Rafal Konopka. It has a longer discussion of intrusive r than either of the other two pronunciation dictionaries.No two ways about that: intrusive r is a “very significant feature judged worthy of inclusion in the model”, and “a firmly established feature of today’s mainstream RP”.

Accordingly we find the possibility of intrusive r indicated through the entries by a parenthesized italic (r). Historically justified linking r, on the other hand, is shown by a parenthesized plain roman (r). As far as I can tell, this is the only use of italicization in the ODP transcriptions. Our potential homophones sawing and soaring are shown like this.The word withdrawal is transcribed in four different ways per variety, with the possibility of intrusive r shown throughout for BrE.This places ODP firmly in the camp of objective description (yesterday’s blog).

Tomorrow: LPD.


  1. It does? As far as I can see, the distinction between roman and italic is only historical, not descriptive: it tells you nothing that the traditional orthography does not.

  2. It tells you that speech-conscious RP speakers are likely to avoid the linking rs set in italic.

  3. Many RP speakers also "avoid" linking ps and linking ths.

  4. I hope the linking theme doesn't take us back to the so called linking /j/ and /w/.

    It's a pet hate of mine. Handy EFL tips, techniques and explanations that are taken as phonetic facts.

    Something similar happens with explanations of linking /r/ in many books on phonetics and pronunciation. It's presented from the point of view of spelling and, I think, leaves the reader which with the impression that the spelling comes first, that it's a matter of knowing when to pronounce the letter r. And 'pronouncing a letter' doesn't mean much if we're keeping a strict distinction between orthography and pronunciation.

    I prefer to start from the phonetic contexts in which linking /r/ occurs. Then point out that usually there's a letter r in these contexts, but sometimes not, and the treatment of the latter may vary.

    It may seem a petty quibble, but I'd like to try to get across that spelling can be a guide in this case not because we derive pronunciation from spelling, but because the pronunciation and the spelling have a common ancestor - they both reflect the pronunciation of earlier times.

  5. For a long time I have wondered whether I was mishearing "drawring" or "drawering" instead of "drawing". Now I understand. Thank you.

  6. The OPD entry for withdrawal looks horrendous!

    What I think might be easier for casual users is a compromise between OPD and EPD. Something like this

    saw sɔ: (sɔ:ʳ)
    sore sɔ:ʳ

  7. Paul

    I see no way of consulting a pronunciation dictionary which doesn't involve first looking up the orthographic word.

  8. Lipman, I haven't a clue what you are trying to say here.

  9. David Crosbie

    If you meant what I think you meant, you don't need a pronouncing dictionary to tell you which words are prone to r-linking (intrusive or otherwise). The phonetic context is enough.

    I had university students in mind, not standard efl.

    Or you could get a copy of Daniel Jones' first dictionary. The one which was ordered by pronunciation with the orthography as the entry.

  10. Paul

    I'm confused. Who do you think will buy a pronunciation dictionary? How will they use it? What might they want to know?

    I have a clear vision of students who want to know how a given orthographic word might be pronounced. I can't invisage a demand for anything else — and certainly not a market.

  11. David,

    When I wrote my bit above, I had native and non-native university level students of English phonetics/phonology in mind. I described a presentation of the phenomenon of r-linking, which I hope would encourage them to see it from a phonetic/phonological perspective, not an orthographical perspective, and which was suited to their level of English.

    You said:

    "I have a clear vision of students who want to know how a given orthographic word might be pronounced."

    I have an equally clear vision of students who already know how a word is pronounced, but want to understand phonology of /r/ in RP.

    I shouldn't have mentioned EFL and phonetics teaching in the same blog. My main point was the presentation of r-linking in books on English phonetics for university students.

  12. Not really related to this thread except that it's a doctionary published by OUP and it affects the pronunciations, but I've just noticed that the OED Online site has been revamped and they now use proper fonts instead of those clunky image files to render special characters, including IPA.

  13. Paul

    The students of my vision have a clear motivation to consult — perhaps even purchase a pronunciation dictionary. The students of your vision would be better advised to read works on phonology. If they 'already know how a word is pronounced', then a pronunciation dictionary is just a waste of their time.

  14. David

    Yes, you are right that the dictionary that I didn't mention is probably of some use to the students that I wasn't referring to and as for the students that I did mention, it is 'just a waste of their time'. And that's why I didn't mention it.


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