This is something I don't think is worthy of a question, but it is something I noticed happening to me, and I was curious if there are any other cases. For me for somereason I have begun switching my vowel+"r" letter combinations in certain situations, and I have noticed something similar in at least one case ("bryȝt" becoming "bird.")

I have noticed that certain words for somereason my mind has begun switching, such as "thirty [ˈθʌ̆ɻ.ti]" switching to: [ˈθɾɪx.ti] or [ˈθɾiç.ti]. Also "thirteen [θʌ˞ɹʔˈtin]" becoming [ˈθɾɪxtin].

In speech I don't say this, as usually the difference trips me up and I slow down, and say the right word. Just something interesting, I am curious if there are any other similar cases in history. The only thing I can think of that would be comparable would be how some English dialects insert a rhotic consonant where there is naught: America said as: [ˈʌmeɹɪ̈kʊɻ] in some UK dialects, or [hɔɻk] for "hawk."


The process is called metathesis, and as you suggest, it is common in language change, and in individual errors. Besides "bird", other well-known examples are English dialect "aks" for "ask" (a purely consonantal example, but still regarded as the same phenomenon) and many examples in the Wikipedia article I linked to.

Note that this is nothing to do with letters - it is about sounds, and happens in unwritten as well as written languages.

"Intrusive r" is an interesting phenomenon in non-Rhotic English, but it is not as you have characterised: I don't think any UK speakers put an /r/ n the words you've mentioned except in two cases. The common one is when a vowel-final word is followed by a vowel ("America is") and then some speakers regularly insert /r/: this has been widely studied by linguists.

The other, which I have not seen remarked on, is when non-rhotic speakers are imitating rhotic speech: they sometimes get it wrong, and insert /r/ where there is none, because their non-rhotic accent has neutralised a distinction. So, for example, I have heard an English actor doing an American accent pronounce "drama" with a final /r/. So I can imagine somebody pronouncing "hawk" as [hɔɻk] in such circumstances, as though it were spelt "hork", because there would be no difference in their normal accent between those words. But they would not do so in their normal speech.

  • 1
    Ahh... yes! Thank you kindly. I didn't think about Axing people questions. Jul 10 '17 at 16:51

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