Date: Thu, 9 Oct 1997 22:42:39 -0500
From: "Donald M. Lance" engdl[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]SHOWME.MISSOURI.EDU
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
Dale Coyle Asks:
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.
Unless the 'CVC' was intended as a notation for the underlying form. If
/r/ is a consonant PHONEME in initial position, would it then be a vowel
phoneme in post-vocalic position?
If a syllable with a vowel follows, some Americans have a linking [r] (kae
ri], whereas others have [kae[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]- i], where [AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]- is intended as hooked schwa,
while some will sometimes have the linking -r- and sometimes not. What
does this say about the underlying phoneme (or diaphoneme)?
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.
Here Dale is giving phonetic descriptions, i.e. descriptions of surface
manifestations of underlying phonemes.
The original post seems to have mixed phonemic and phonetic notation.
Whether in r-less or r-ful speech, description of the American /r/-[r] is
AMERICAN PRONUNCIATION, which IS available now, doesn't answer Terry's
question directly but does discuss some things he doesn't ask about.