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Old 01-01-2014, 10:18 PM
 
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Why when I visit Boston do people pronounce their "r" as an "h"? "Car is not pronounced "cah". What's up with the dislike of the "r" sound which is to be pronounced as "are", not "ah"? When you watch national television, do Boston natives consider "car" bring mispronounced whenever they hear it?
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Old 01-01-2014, 11:12 PM
 
Location: New Hampshire
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The /r/ in postvocalic position is not pronounced as [h] (as in hat), it is vocalized (or "dropped"). This is a widespread phenomenon in English dialects called non-rhoticity - click on the link to learn more about the subject.

Non-rhoticity or "r-dropping" is the norm in England, Wales, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa, among other places. It used to be much more common in the United States (namely in New England, the NYC area, and the Southeast), but since WW2 it has become increasingly stigmatized as non-standard and has receded everywhere. Even in Boston, there are wide ranges of rhoticity among natives, largely correlating to age and socioeconomic background.

There is nothing "right" or "wrong" about rhotic and non-rhotic accents. English spelling is far from phonetic - there are all kinds of letters in the orthography that are never pronounced. Sadly, negative attitudes towards non-standard dialect features help contribute to the loss of linguistic diversity.

Edit: Non-rhotic Bostonians wouldn't bat an eye at a newscaster pronouncing "car" with the [r], partly because they recognize that this is the standard national variant and partly because they are exposed to rhotic speech in their daily interactions with other Boston residents.
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Old 01-02-2014, 12:48 AM
 
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Before I came to Boston, I had thought higher class people in Boston tend to drop the r in coda position. Maybe it is because when the movies show some snob people (especially women), they use that accent.

However now I have realized it is more or less the other way round. Educated people try to speak "standard", but lower class people drop the r all the time.

I also watched a video about John Kerry. When he was young, he dropped the r, but now he does not. Instead, now he pronounces "idea" as "idear".
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Old 01-02-2014, 01:22 AM
 
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Interesting. Never heard of the r being added to a word that didn't have it originally.
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Old 01-02-2014, 04:51 AM
 
Location: Massachusetts
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Quote:
Originally Posted by maxmodder View Post
Interesting. Never heard of the r being added to a word that didn't have it originally.
A classic example of this is John F. Kennedy's pronunciation of Cuba as "Cuber".
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Old 01-02-2014, 09:33 AM
 
Location: Cambridge, MA
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Why ah people allowing somebody to troll by stahting on how some people around Boston speak? I cahn't undastand this.
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Old 01-02-2014, 09:40 AM
 
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Originally Posted by goyguy View Post
Why ah people allowing somebody to troll by stahting on how some people around Boston speak? I cahn't undastand this.
I wasn't tolling.
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Old 01-02-2014, 10:19 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by maxmodder View Post
Why when I visit Boston do people pronounce their "r" as an "h"? "Car is not pronounced "cah". What's up with the dislike of the "r" sound which is to be pronounced as "are", not "ah"? When you watch national television, do Boston natives consider "car" bring mispronounced whenever they hear it?
It's funny because a lot of times when I travel somewhere, especially down south and mention I am from Boston, people ask me to say something like "park my car" for example. Some people automatically assume I should sound like come of the characters in the Departed.

I think it's safe to assume people in this area do not call into the question how certain words, car being one them, are pronounced by the rest of the country. Just like a New Yorker questioning how coffee is said.

The only issue I ever take with pronunciation would be Aunt. I don't understand why most of the country pronounces it as Ant.

I always assumed the Boston accent took some roots in the way the English speak.
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Old 01-02-2014, 10:24 AM
 
Location: New London
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bettafish View Post
Before I came to Boston, I had thought higher class people in Boston tend to drop the r in coda position. Maybe it is because when the movies show some snob people (especially women), they use that accent.

However now I have realized it is more or less the other way round. Educated people try to speak "standard", but lower class people drop the r all the time.

I also watched a video about John Kerry. When he was young, he dropped the r, but now he does not. Instead, now he pronounces "idea" as "idear".
If my understanding is correct, high class people used to have their own version of the Boston accent, which has been diluted and faded over time, so you don't hear it as much.

Not sure if this video is the best example, but its the only one I could find....

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mfR4DLXYpCw

And I don't think that adding "r"s is a socioeconomic thing. My dad always adds "r"s onto a lot of words (like "idea"). He also drops many "r"s (he'd say "fustrated" instead of "frustrated").

I always thought adding "r"s was a Rhode Island thing...

Quote:
Originally Posted by TAM88 View Post
I don't understand why most of the country pronounces it as Ant.
YES. Ants are insects.
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Old 01-02-2014, 11:42 AM
 
Location: New Hampshire
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The insertion of [r] where it shouldn't belong is a phenomenon called intrusive R, and again, it exists in nearly all non-rhotic English dialects (England, Wales, Australia, New Zealand, etc.), including traditional eastern New England speech. You'll hear it anywhere from Maine to Rhode Island.

Intrusive R can further be divided into two types: linking and non-linking. Linking intrusive R is heard between two vowels, usually across a word boundary ("the idea[r] of it," "I saw[r] it") but sometimes word-internally across a syllable boundary ("a draw[r]ing"). Again, this phenomenon is shared by non-rhotic speakers around the Anglophone world.

Non-linking intrusive R, for the most part, is only heard in those areas where the dialect is undergoing a transition from non-rhotic to rhotic speech, like eastern New England. So you will hear words like "idea[r]" or "soda[r]" even when they aren't followed by a vowel. This is an example of hypercorrection - speakers who are careful to pronounce the [r] in words like "tuner" sometimes might also add an [r] to "tuna[r]", because they associate that word-final schwa vowel with <-er> words in their head. This happens below the level of consciousness.

The other vowel that tends to trigger the non-linking intrusive R is the [a] vowel, traditionally heard in words like "palm," or "aunt," but also in a much larger set of <ar> words like "park" or "car." The result is some eastern New England speakers having their "parms" read, or talking about their "aren't" (their uncle's wife).
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