Date: Tue, 11 Jan 1994 20:24:08 -0600


Subject: Re: retroflex r

On Tue, 11 Jan 1994, Joseph C. Salmons wrote:

=Why is everybody so quiet this week?

= --Natalie (maynor[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]


Well, maybe that's enough reason to ask an idle question:

What's the distribution, areal and/or social, of retroflex

vs. non-retroflex r in American English? Teaching in north

central Indiana, I hear both but don't see any obvious


joe salmons (salmons[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]

I would guess that you are talking about /r/ after vowels. In the Inland

North /r/ usually has a velar constriction. In western PA and I suspect

in much of what some of called the "Midland" dialect area, that same /r/

is more strongly constricted; it is often retroflex (more or less

apico-alveolar) with dorsovlear coarticulation. I would guess that in

the lower midwest the strongly constricted version patterns along

the the center of Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois; I would expect it to be

more rural than urban, though that is only a guess. I have also heard

the strongly contricted version in much South Midland speech. The

feature is discussed in Kurath and McDavid, Pronunciation of English in

the Atlantic States (UAP 1982), and in Frazer, Midland Illinois Dialect

Patterns, PADS #73.

Joe, are you in Indianapolis? If so, it's not surpirsing you hear both


Tim Frazer