Saturday, April 28, 2007


Rhotacism is a defective utterance of the "r" sound. Ironic that the word itself begins with that exact sound, eh?

Anyway, I've been aware for a long time that my "r" can sound a little like a "w". I've noticed it most on my song recordings - it's not major but I can hear it...

So, a couple of days ago I thought I'd have a Google and see what I could find...and...I found a cure!!

I'm 38 and I've only just learned how to pronounce the letter "r"!!

You don't really use the lips, this is what leads to a "w"ish sound. I found this: you make an "l" sound with your tongue touching the top of your mouth and then you just slide the tongue back wards while sounding and it become an "r" sound! I was amazed! A revelation!

I also found a drill to train your tongue to perform this new trick. You find a word with "tr" in it and replace the "r" with a "d". Stay with me here. So let's use "strumming" - you say "stdumming" over and over and the transition becomes natural after a time and it becomes the correct "r" sound.

For me, singing is all about confidence, and I have reached a level of confidence with which I'm happy - but - the "r" thing was in the back of my mind nonetheless. So, now I have a solution to the pronunciation problem I am OVER THE MOON :-)


David Payne said...

Mark, I have to say I hadn't noticed your rhotacism. Trying the drill made me laugh more than watching the golf clip. You're such a mine of information. Keep practising.

lsdaf said...

I cannot pronounce my R's at all either.. I usually avoid saying words with an R in public. If anyone can help me to fix this problem or have instructions like this (this helped a bit but my R's are still bad) please send me an email at Thanks!!

Stargate said...


I suffer from the same problem.

Try this website. See if it helps.


James said...

Just happened on your blog and the cure!! Brilliant! Following your instructions my OAP husband has said the r sound for the first time in his life! Thank you for the cure.

jeem007 said...

Hi Mark,

I suffer the same problem. I can pronounce /r/ but in soft way. I cannot do the thrilling /r/. Could you give some more information on how to cure it? Thank you very much.

samov said...

The "r" problem is easy to fix.

It mostly appears in early childhood because of normal variations of you body, sometimes the tongue is to small or to large, or has limited mobility.

This age is critical since the brain learns from what you do, speak, hear.

It essentially "learns" the bad pronunciation from your inability to pronounce it.

Later in life, EVEN if the physical body changes, it does not change enough to get over the brain's inbuilt error tolerance. The brain simply does not rebuild the circuitry from scratch and instead builds on what it already has.

This is why MOST people in their 20s or 30s who STILL have the problem, are not actually aware they are mispronouncing. They think of the letter r but when they pronounce they are still using the "old" circuitry in the brain.

There's an EASY FIX. Get yourself a good microphone (a mac's inbuilt one will do) and a good pair of headphones. (Sennheiser px100).

On windows turn on the sound feature "what you hear" to hear yourself speak "from the outside".
On a mac you can use garageband, and turn on the Monitor feature.

Now, take a book, and sit in front of your computer and read to yourself out loud. Do this 20 min a day for 50-60 times. It will take a few months.

DO NOT get mad if you mispronounce, try to get it better next time and keep going, always EXPLORING with your voice, to find that tongue movement that get's you that perfect sound you want to hear.

This way you'll make your brain and yourself AWARE of the real sound that is coming out of your mouth and TRYING to "get it right" like it used to in childhood.

You'll be surprised to find how fast it can change to accommodate what you want to sound like.

Have FUN! I fixed myself and I am 26.
This method works! You can even teach yourself to sing, but don't expect too much.

Tags: mental models, the body being in the world, phenomenology of perception.

Kristian Wiuf Marcussen said...

Im from Denmark and im pretty good at english, in english i mean writing and stuff like that. But im nervous. Im about to get grades and im suffering from rhotacism, plus im Danish so my accent is fu**ed up. Any advise so i can be ready (or as i say "weady" :(. ) for my new school year