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RHOTIC AND NON-RHOTIC

RHOTIC AND NON-RHOTIC. Terms coined by the British phonetician John Wells for two kinds of spoken English, a fundamental contrastive feature in the language. In one set of accents of English, r is pronounced wherever it is orthographically present: red, barrel, beer, beard, worker. Such a variety is variously known as rhotic, r-pronouncing, or r-ful(l). In another set of accents, r is pronounced in syllable-initial position (red) and intervocalically (barrel), but not postvocalically (beer, beard, worker). In such positions it is vocalized (turned into a vowel) and not pronounced unless another vowel follows. Such a variety is variously known as non-rhotic, non-r-pronouncing, or r-less. The mainly rhotic and non-rhotic communities in the English-speaking world are: (1) Rhotic. Canada; India; Ireland; south-western England; Scotland; the northern and western states of the US apart from the Boston area and New York City; Barbados. (2) Nonrhotic. Black Africa; Australia; the Caribbean, except for Barbados; England apart, in the main, from the south-west; New Zealand; South Africa; the southern states, the Boston area of New England, and New York City vernacular speech; and Black English Vernacular in the US; Wales. Foreign learners from such backgrounds as the Romance languages and Arabic and those who have Network American as their pronunciation model tend to be rhotic. Foreign learners in Black Africa, and from China and Japan, as well as those who have RP (BBC English) as their model tend to be nonrhotic. See R, R-SOUNDS.

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