/r/ deletion and insertion

Nancy Hall nhall at ESSEX.AC.UK
Thu Jul 27 08:59:57 UTC 2006

There is a sporadic process by which English speakers (of rhotic
dialects) may delete an /r/ in a word that contains another /r/. Some
common examples of this dissimilation include:

Feb(r)uary (here a /y/ appears when /r/ deletes)

There are also some words in which speakers tend to insert an extra /r/,
like the following:


I am collecting examples of /r/ deletion and /r/ insertion for a
phonological study. If anyone can send examples they have heard, I'd be

I'm curious as to whether these patterns are regionally differentiated
within North America, so it would be interesting to hear whether these
pronunciations do or do not occur in dialects that you are familiar with.

I'd also be interested in any published (or unpublished) work on this
phenomenon in English. I've seen it mentioned in:

Hempl, George (1893) "Loss of r in English through dissimilation".
        Dialect Notes, Vol. 1, pt. 6, pp. 279-81.
Mencken, H.L. (1967) The American Language (one volume bridged
edition)                [see section on Consonants]
Rippmann, Walter (1909) The Sounds of Spoken English

Thank you,

Nancy Hall
(nhall at essex.ac.uk)

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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