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I'm American so I've seen this in so many movies and just wondering, what's up with that? Example: We will not need those blankets in Russia-r.

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    This is called intrusive R.
    – Draconis
    Dec 15, 2021 at 5:59
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    @Draconis Is it? There's no vowel following (and the example of intrusive R with no vowel following in that Wikipedia article is poorly sourced and Bush is not only American but AFAIK (mostly) rhotic). If it was about non-rhotic speakers doing an American accent then it could be explained as hypercorrection, but I've never heard of anything like the OP's example from "people with a British accent".
    – Nardog
    Dec 15, 2021 at 6:55
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    Yeah, this isn’t something I’ve heard either. For rhotic Brits, it may occur as a hypercorrection, just like it may for Americans, but when you say “people with a British accent”, it’s the non-rhotic variants that come to mind, and it’s definitely not a thing there. Can you find and link to an example in a video somewhere? Dec 15, 2021 at 9:28
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    I don't believe an r is normally pronounced in this example. Intrusive r occurs when words ending in non-high vowels are followed by a word beginning with a vowel (my personal interpretation is that these non-high vowels are actually followed by an underlying r that is not pronounced in pausa or before a consonant)
    – Tristan
    Dec 15, 2021 at 9:49
  • I should note that this is also said to happen with New England accents, principally attributed to the Boston area, in American English. Dec 15, 2021 at 13:49

2 Answers 2

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Further to IMSoP’s answer: I live in a non-rhotic part of the UK. Non-rhotic means we don’t sound Rs *unless they’re followed by a vowel *. So we drop the R at the end of ‘rotor’ but sound it in ‘rotor and wing’. This has an odd result with all these words end in A: because ‘rotor’ and ‘rota’ sound the same to us, so do ‘China’ and ‘*chiner’. So we say ‘China’ just as you’d expect, but ‘China and Indian’ come out as ‘Chiner and India’.

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  • The OP specifically gave an example with /r/ at the end of a sentence.
    – Nardog
    Dec 19, 2021 at 11:00
  • @Nardog David Garner is right. The OP's example is wrong. Many British speakers do indeed use intrusive /r/ as David describes -- a funny way to allude to it is "Laura Norder" -- but it is only with two vowel sounds in hiatus, not at the end of an utterance.
    – Rosie F
    Dec 19, 2021 at 18:32
  • If the OP was wrong then this answer couldn't possibly be right. What it says is true of course, but it doesn't actually answer the question as asked.
    – Nardog
    Dec 20, 2021 at 5:01
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I think there's a possibility here that you're listening with a rhotic ear to someone speaking with a non-rhotic variety.

Rhoticity doesn't just present as a different pronunciation, but also as a different perception: certain word pairs are homophones to a non-rhotic speaker, even when pronounced by a rhotic speaker.

As a non-rhotic speaker, I cannot distinguish between "rota" and "rotor", even if the person speaking has a rhotic accent and distinguishes them. So for all I know, when I say "rota", you would hear it as "rotor".

This is similar to the frequently parodied inability to distinguish "l" from "r" in speakers of many Asian languages. Often, they will appear to use the "wrong" consonant, since to them, the two consonants are indistinguishable.

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    I don't think this adds up. If you're a rhotic speaker, shouldn't you be able to tell the difference between rota and rotor?
    – Nardog
    Dec 19, 2021 at 5:43
  • @Nardog I'm saying that a rhotic speaker listening to a non-rhotic speaker will hear differences that aren't there, in the sense that the speaker is completely unaware of them.
    – IMSoP
    Dec 19, 2021 at 11:52
  • And I'm saying that doesn't make sense. Being a rhotic speaker means you produce contrasts non-rhotic speakers do not. So non-rhotic speakers are, as you say, often inept at perceiving the differences rhotic speakers produce, but the reverse is not true, as the very definition of being rhotic is that you produce and perceive those differences.
    – Nardog
    Dec 19, 2021 at 13:36
  • @Nardog If an English speaker hears a Japanese speaker, they will perceive them using "l" and "r" in the wrong places; but the speaker themselves is not distinguishing between them. Similarly, when I say "rota" or "rotor", I have no idea whether a rhotic speaker will hear me using the wrong one, because I can't tell the difference. My suggestion is that sometimes I will pronounce the trailing vowel in a way that a rhotic speaker mistakes for "er".
    – IMSoP
    Dec 19, 2021 at 15:42
  • And what way is that? If they hear it, then that's not a difference that "isn't there"—it may not quite be a typical realization of /r/, but there is some kind of acoustic cue—again, if they hear it. And if there is a difference, you haven't identified what that difference is, and if there isn't, your answer doesn't adequately explain why the difference, which doesn't exist from an objective perspective, is still perceived.
    – Nardog
    Dec 19, 2021 at 16:18

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