SLawson

Why is R pronounced different by different people?

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I was looking at a website which has native speakers saying the same word Lärm. I'm confused why two of them pronounce the R the way I read Germans pronounce it from the back of the throat, but then two of them pronounce the R the same as English?

on here: https://forvo.com/word/lärm/#de

I asked my friend in Germany on facebook by messaging, and they didn't know what I was talking about, as said it all sounded the same to them, and said you can say the R any way, so now I'm annoyed they're not helping, so I told them I would ask on the internet.

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On 14.10.2017 at 7:24 AM, SLawson said:

I was looking at a website which has native speakers saying the same word Lärm. I'm confused why two of them pronounce the R the way I read Germans pronounce it from the back of the throat, but then two of them pronounce the R the same as English?

on here: https://forvo.com/word/lärm/#de

I asked my friend in Germany on facebook by messaging, and they didn't know what I was talking about, as said it all sounded the same to them, and said you can say the R any way, so now I'm annoyed they're not helping, so I told them I would ask on the internet.

Very interesting question, indeed. 

Well, your friends were not wrong, really. In German, the different sounds of the letter R are indeed not coming with a difference in meaning. The difference utterances of R though, that are not carrying a difference in meaning in German may carry a difference in meaning in other languages, though. It is important to be aware of the fact that the letters of an alphabet are only an approximation to the actual 'sounds'. To be more precise, the sounds that people produce for the letter R (for instance in Germans) can correspond to different phonemes, however those phonemes are not carrying a different meaning in German. To 'find out' the phonemes of a language, one has to establish so called minimal pairs ('words' that are only different in one phoneme like 'pat' and 'bat') and check whether a change in meaning takes place or not. 

I was trying to put this as simple as possible. After all, the explanations are very vague. If you are really interested in this, I can suggest you some really good books on the topic. Within linguistics, we are talking here about the field of phonetics and phonology. 

Please keep in mind that when you are observing phenomenons like this, it is very important not to give too much attention to the alphabet alone. As you are interested about the production and accurate visualization and classification of the sounds, you need to take into account the IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Phonetic_Alphabet

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Thanks for replying, that's helpful to me. Although I didn't think pronouncing it different ways would have different meanings. I meant that it takes a lot of effort to learn how to pronounce R the German way which I thought is the proper way, with the gargle from back of the throat, so was wondering if I heard people pronouncing the R without coming from back of the throat, then why do some pronounce the same word with the R that sounds like gargle and some not? When I went to France and was trying to pronounce a word with R I said it the same as I do in England and they didn't understand me, but when I said the same word with the R from the back of the throat they understood me. I wasn't sure if that's the same in Germany

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