Is there an English word that makes the more guttural "Resh (ר)" sound found in Hebrew?

For example, even though the Hebrew letter Chet (ח) is not found in English, English speakers can be told the "ch" sound in "Bach" is how to pronounce the Hebrew letter. In the same way, I am looking for a word that English speakers pronounce with the Hebrew letter Resh (ר).

English speakers seem to have a hard time hearing the difference between the letter "R" and "ר".

1 Answer 1


Modern Hebrew <ר> has a variety of realisations. [ʁ] (a voiced uvular fricative or approximant) is the most typical, but [ʀ] (a uvular trill), [r] (an alveolar trill), or [ɾ] (an alveolar tap) are also used depending on the background of the speaker (the latter two are particularly associated with Sephardim and Mizrakhim, and the other "guttural" reshim being associated with Ashkenazim)

The vast majority of English varieties lack most of these sounds (although [ɾ] is an intervocalic allophone of /t/ and /d/ in many American varieties, and [ʁ] is the usual pronunciation of English /r/ in places with the so-called Northumbrian burr), and so there is no native vocabulary which most English speakers will have any of these sounds in

English speakers are likely aware of the fact that French or German speakers typically pronounce their r's differently from English-speakers though, and the typical French and German pronunciation is [ʁ] (with [ʀ] also being used in some French varieties), the same as the typical "guttural" resh. As such your best bet at finding a touchstone for this sound that English speakers have a chance of knowing is going to be French or German

  • 1
    The majority of Englishes do have [ɾ] as an allophone of intervocalic /d t/, though of course not the others. Oct 13, 2020 at 15:58
  • not sure if it's true that the majority do, but you are definitely right that many do. I'll edit to clarify
    – Tristan
    Oct 13, 2020 at 16:23
  • 3
    It might be added that the uvular realisations are typical of varieties of (modern) Hebrew historically influenced by Yiddish.
    – fdb
    Oct 13, 2020 at 17:32
  • 1
    @fdb the masoretes actually distinguish between two different realisations of resh, a front one (likely an alveolar trill or tap), and a guttural one, apparently pronounced in the same place as qaph. Whilst the modern guttural resh is often attributed to Yiddish influence (and it is largely associated with Ashkenazim), it is far from proven that it isn't in fact a retention of the Masoretic guttural resh
    – Tristan
    Oct 14, 2020 at 9:47
  • 1
    L1 Arabic speakers generally pronounce the Hebrew rhotic as a trill -- I've never heard [ɣ]. I suppose it's possible it exists, but I suspect Wiki is wrong; it's hard to tell [ɣ] and [ʁ] apart if your language doesn't have them. BTW for the Masoretic guttural resh did you mean "pronounced in the same place as kaph" or "qoph"? I'd have guessed that referred to a uvular trill as in some Arabic varieties.
    – TKR
    Oct 14, 2020 at 17:52

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.