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Why do some people have difficulty pronouncing the letter R?


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I have noticed that a lot of our brothers and sisters in neighboring countries have difficulty in pronouncing the letter R. Take for instance Koreans and Japanese and Chinese. They have a hard time pronouncing R. Could it be that their language lacks the "R" sound? Also, why don't they incorporate English into their educational system? What's wrong with English? Why do they hate it?

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I have noticed that a lot of our brothers and sisters in neighboring countries have difficulty in pronouncing the letter R. Take for instance Koreans and Japanese and Chinese. They have a hard time pronouncing R. 1. Could it be that their language lacks the "R" sound? 2. Also, why don't they incorporate English into their educational system? What's wrong with English? Why do they hate it?

1. Yes.

2. They do incorporate English, but most of the professors are non-native English speakers.

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I tried to research the answer to your question, and I found out that there is such a thing as "Rhotacism", which means the inability to pronounce (or difficulty in pronouncing) R, or the conversion of another consonant into R.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhotacism

I didn't know that there has already a coined term for it.

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I come from a tribe that has a problem pronouncing R and L. I guess that it must be the shape of our tongues. If a letter has L and R then I hesitate before pronouncing it because I feel funny saying the word. It is not that I hate pronouncing it, things are just that way.

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I come from a tribe that has a problem pronouncing R and L. I guess that it must be the shape of our tongues. If a letter has L and R then I hesitate before pronouncing it because I feel funny saying the word. It is not that I hate pronouncing it, things are just that way.

I'm pretty sure the shape of your tongue has nothing to do with it, and that your tongue is normal. It's just because you were introduced to and tried to reproduce that sound later in your life and not when you were a little kid. I have trouble pronouncing the Arabic "ain". Does that mean that the shape of my throat is not suited for pronouncing it? No. It just means that I need to practice more.
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It's more likely because they have been used to an alphabet which pronounces R in a different way.  Also, for those who are English speaking, they may also have a hard time pronouncing the letter R, particularly if they are not able to move their mouth in the right way to produce the right sound.  Compared to other vowels, pronouncing R requires more muscle movement and some people may just tend to be lazy and skip that letter altogether.  This can be corrected through speech therapy or simple practice.

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I come from a tribe that has a problem pronouncing R and L. I guess that it must be the shape of our tongues. If a letter has L and R then I hesitate before pronouncing it because I feel funny saying the word. It is not that I hate pronouncing it, things are just that way.

I agree that your tongue doesn't have anything to do with your difficulty in pronouncing the letter R. I also have difficulty pronouncing it when I was a kid, and the letter R is quite prominent in our local language. I guess it just takes some practice and immersion for you to be able to pronounce the letter R fluently.

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It is weird! I know two people who really struggle with the letter r, they just can't roll their r's! My English husband and a fellow Motswana friend. What makes it worse is that in my language (Setswana) the r is more of a harsher, rolling sound compared to the softer English r. I'd liken it to how Italians pronounce their r. I just laugh when I hear them attempt to say it

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I know a lot of people who have a difficulty in pronouncing the letter "r" and it always does crack me up when they say a word containing 'r', just sounds so weird.

I think that the reason why some people can't pronounce the letter 'r' is that they just don't fully develop the tongue motions for it making it very difficult to pronounce it. Even with practice,there are no actual guarantees that a person will be able to pronounce it.

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