Intrusive r

I’ve always been interested in what British people do with the letter r and the sound /r/. As a non-rhotic variety of English, the /r/ sound isn’t pronounced when it’s not followed by a vowel, which I find reasonably ok (this is the type of English I speak, after all).

But then, strangely enough, they have this thing called intrusive r which complicates things much further. The intrusive r is an /r/ sound that doesn’t exist in the spelling, so you won’t see any letter r anywhere. It’s used betwen vowels, especially after /ə/ and /ɔː/ and it might be sort of puzzling if you don’t know about it.

I haven’t written a full article about the intrusive r yet -I promise to do it as soon as I can-, but this morning I found a wonderful example and I thought I wanted to share it with you:

sound_loud_speaker This was the time of the start of perestroika and glasnost, the thawing of relations (Louise Hidalgo, BBC World Service).

As you can see, she pronounces thawing as /ˈθɔːrɪŋ/ instead of /ˈθɔːɪŋ/.

So, if you don’t know about this phenomenon beforehand, it’ll make your life a little bit more difficult.