Hey, um, pronunciation question.
I want to learn Russian, but I can't roll my rs at all. Am I still going to be intelligible to native speakers? How should I pronounce it alternatively?
You'll still be intelligible, as long as you are pronouncing your words correctly overall. However, the accent is a large part of a language. If possible you should try and learn how to pronounce it. There are many videos showing how to do it, and I would also suggest listening to Russian radio or other listening exercises to get used to hearing the sound. This article mentions a study that found
...it is better to listen to new sounds silently rather than practice saying them yourself at the same time.
So maybe listen to a Russian radio while going about tasks and try to pick out the sounds of "r".
I have in adulthood learned to roll r's. Can't say I have the Russian version quite down, but I think I'm ok with the Spanish. And once you have the basic feel/mechanism you can move it around in your mouth to hone it for different languages.
The final key for me was a mention in a textbook (for Georgian, ironically): "r is rolled like in Scotland." So I came up with the fakeiset Scotlandish thing I could, "Right, ye are matey" (forgive me, o please forgive me, actual denizens of Scotland!) and lo and behold that r at the front just rolled, and it wasn't long before the 'r' in 'are' did, too. I think the key was just getting the tip of my tongue into the right part of the mouth (namely way in the front with rounded lips to concentrate the airflow although now I've gotten more flexibility with the tongue position) for the turbulent airflow from the throat to do its work, and the fake Scottish accent helped!
At the beginning you'll undoubtedly find it easier to roll r's at the beginning of words/syllables than at the end since the burst of air from your throat is what makes the tongue trill, and it's easier to have that burst coming at the start than at the end.
It is not a great problem, even some native speakers have a speech defect and can't roll their R. The best way to stay intelligible and not to sound exotic is to use French or German R sound.
Thank you! I've noticed that a lot of other languages have this sound as well, so I'm glad there's still hope!
I can't roll the r and I can't pronounce anything ending in ль properly, but I manage to communicate without difficulty.
I'm russian native speaker and I can't roll r :-) I have it like a german or french one. No problem with that.
Lol, we even have a word for mispronouncing r (because it's very common) it is "картавить, картавость"
Lenin reputedly had the same problem, he did ok. So just do your best, dont think it will be a problem.
I dont know if it is a characteristic of language (all these prefixes/suffixes/endings/alternating vowels/missing consonants) that enables russians to recognize mispronounced words, or it is that we are such wonderful gregarious people, or I am just delusional.