English retroflexion (was: Tampering with history)

Srini Pichumani srini_pichumani at MENTORG.COM
Mon Jun 22 22:58:37 UTC 1998

> Miguel Carrasquer Vidal wrote:
> >Another example is English, where /r/ is pronounced as retroflex [R.]
> >in some varieties (notably American English).
> >
> Can you give an example?  As a native speaker of American English, I am not
> aware of any retroflexion in my speech.
> Jonathan SILK
> ****Note New Email Address***:
> jonathan.silk at yale.edu

Jonathan, while driving down from the Bay area to LA over
the weekend, I heard some children's rhymes over and over
again - they seemed to be the only thing that would quieten
our 20-month old daughter - and, sure, there is tons of
retroflexion in American English, particularly so in kids
speech... the song that struck me particularly was

                Five little fishes ....
                First one said the pool is cool
                Third one sai...

The pronunciation of First and Third are so retroflexed in the
children's singing that I unconsciously cringe !  Never mind
that my mother tongue is Tamil,  which has the unique retroflex
right in the name of the language... we would be better off
transliterating it as Tamir for Americans... that way, at least
Americans would pronounce it right... since most other Indians/
S.Indians can't even see what this uniquely Tamil-Malayalam
sound is all about ;-)


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