panzeleche (panzeleche) wrote in linguaphiles,

English Rs

The R in English really are a weird thing, aren't they? The type of R used in 'run' by American and British English speakers, at least. According to Wiki, it is either an alveolar or postalvelor approximant (although alveolar trills, retroflex approximants, and labiodental approximants are common as well). World-wide, it is found in few languages, nearly no Indo-European languages excluding some obscure dialects, and is generally one of the hardest new sounds to make in English (or so I've observed).

How exactly did such an atypical sound develop in English? I mean, Middle English didn't have this sound and preferred to trill the R, but Early Modern English has this R.
To extend this further, how do such strange sounds develop in languages? Swedish has all these weird vowel sounds and a consonant whose existence is in doubt. Welsh has that lateral frictive ɬ. I assume these sounds are rare because they are harder to make than similar-sounding sounds. If such, why would they arise if they are more difficult to make?

Now, I've learned that there are two types of 'r's in English (North American English in particular). There is apical r, which is made with the tongue tip, and there is bunched r, made with the back of the tongue bunched up against the back of the mouth and with rounded lips.

What exactly is a 'bunched R', in linguistics terms?

Pre-emptive thank you to everyone!
Tags: english, phonology

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