For this part of our British Accent Training series on the ‘R’, we’re looking at the when things fall apart. Sometimes, the ‘R’ just won’t work. You might find that it sounds weak, unconvincing, or even obscures the meaning. Sometimes it sounds like a whole different accent altogether.
We’re going to tackle 3 different ways the ‘r’ can go wrong. But let’s look at the ‘tapped’ R first of all.
The Tapped ‘R’
As we know, the perfect ‘r’ is almost like a revving motorbike – long, deep, extended. You might have a tapping ‘R’ if you feel like you can’t extend the ‘R’ for long periods of time. The ‘r’ will feel like a little flick of the tongue instead of a longer, more powerful sound. You’ll often find that Russian and Spanish speakers do a lot of this tapping. Imagine saying ‘really’ in a Spanish or Russian accent and you’ll see what I mean.
The tapped ‘r’, despite it being a lovely, lyrical sound, has no place in the RP British accent. Some British accents, such as Scottish and Liverpudlian, do contain it – but not the one we’re looking at.
So we need to slow the sound down, making it longer and deeper. Imagine revving a motorbike again, making the sound long and deep. You’ll notice that you can grow and soften the sound, making it louder and quieter. You’ll notice that it’s a long, extended sound – not short or quick at all.
When you’re ready, you can put it on a word. You can say: “I’m rrrrrready!”, feeling how long and extended the sound is. That’s how long you want it! I know – it feels very strange and over-done. But as you get better at it, you can speed it up. Practice slow, then speed up.
Good luck with the ‘R’ sound – we’ll be back tomorrow talking about what to do if you feel your ‘R’ is lispy or weak. See you then!