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.
Dept. of Eng.
The College of NJ