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Sound change and alternation
Fortition (strengthening)

Linking R and intrusive R are phonological phenomena that occur in many dialects of English. In dialects with linking R, the letter R (phoneme /ɹ/) is pronounced at the end of a syllable only when there is a following vowel (so spar in isolation is pronounced the same as spa). In dialects with intrusive R, an R sound is also added at the end of certain words not spelled with R if the next word begins with a vowel.


Linking R

In dialects that possess linking R, if a word that ends with /ɹ/ precedes a word that begins with a vowel in the same prosodic unit, then the /ɹ/ will be pronounced. Thus, for example, the R in here would not be pronounced in here they are (because it is followed by a consonant), but it would be pronounced in here I am. Likewise, the R at the end of far would only be pronounced if the next word begins with a vowel, as in far away or far off. In other words, linking R, /ɹ/ is pronounced only if it is followed by a vowel, including across word boundaries.

Linking R occurs in most (but not all) non-rhotic dialects of English.

Intrusive R

Some (but not all) dialects that possess linking R also possess intrusive R. In a dialect with intrusive R, an additional [ɹ] is added after words that end in a non-high vowel or glide) if the next word begins with a vowel, regardless of whether the first word historically ended with /ɹ/, and even though its spelling does not end with an R. For example, intrusive R would appear in Asia[ɹ] and Africa or the idea[ɹ] of it: Asia and idea did not historically end in /ɹ/, and are not pronounced with an [ɹ] in other circumstances, but the [ɹ] is inserted epenthetically to prevent a hiatus. An analogous phenomenon of "intrusive t" occurs in standard French (a-t-il).

Intrusive R also occurs within words before certain suffixes, such as draw[ɹ]ing or withdraw[ɹ]al. This is now so common in parts of England that by 1997 the linguist John C. Wells considered it objectively part of Received Pronunciation, but he noted that it was still stigmatized as an incorrect pronunciation,[1] as it is or was in some other standardized non-rhotic accents.

Rhotic dialects cannot have linking R because the /ɹ/ is always pronounced. Intrusive R arose historically as hypercorrection of linking R in non-rhotic dialects, so it too does not occur in rhotic dialects.


See also



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