Date: Thu, 9 Oct 1997 23:01:33 -0400

From: "(Dale F. Coye)" Dfcoye[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]AOL.COM

Subject: Re: An R-full mess

Terry Irons writes

I told him that his

post-vocalic r's were tauto-syllabic, representing a CVC syllabic

structure (for the pronuncation of say, "car") whereas his classmates

were syllabifying the r, resulting in what is really a CVV syllabic


I'd like to pursue this. I've always thought "car" as CVC with /r/ as a

consonant works for Scots, or some other trilled or flapped varieties, but

for Am Eng. isn't /r/ always retroflexive and in fact not a real consonant at

all? Someone suggested it's a glide, but aren't glides really vowels in word

final position? The glide /w/ is the same as /u/ or /U/ in, for ex., "mow"

/mou/- the glide is generated when a vowel follows, e.g., in "mowing"

/'mowIng/. That is to say, "mow" has a diphthong. Similarly the

combinations heard in "ear, air, are, oar, ewer" are really diphthongs,

aren't they? We just don't ever call them that. Consonant means the air

flow is obstructed and I don't think there's any obstruction for Am. /r/--

maybe someone more up on phonetics can help here. So getting back to the

original post, I'd say we should distinguish between utterances with CV (my

own pronunciation of "car", with /ar/ as a diphthong, and CVV, where the

final V has its own syllable. I'm trying to think of a minimal pair-- maybe

"bar" (diphthong) and a person who says "Bah!" Bah-er where the fina "-er"

really is it's own syllable. But to call it CVC is perhaps misleading.

Dale Coye

Dept. of Eng.

The College of NJ