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Does anyone else have trouble trilling?

Does anyone have trouble trilling when learning a language? I have trouble pronouncing Europa in German, seems like only thing that is trilled. And if you don't know what "trilling" is, it means basically to role the r. Like in Roma.

December 29, 2017



I can't roll my Rs at all, I have a mild form of tongue-tie so it might be because of that. ¯_(ツ)_/¯ I just try to tap my Rs instead and have made peace with the fact that I'll always have weird-sounding Rs, lol. In the grand scheme of things I don't think it's that much of an impairment, as long as you make a bit of an extra effort in other areas of pronunciation to make sure you're speaking clearly.


I had trouble rolling for a while but one day it just came to me. I'm greatful for this; now I no longer sound as weird when speaking most languages.


I have never managed to do it either. I've tried it for a very long time, but my tongue does not seem to manage it.

But the good news is: in German you don't need to trill the R, not even in "Europa" ;)


Standard German only uses guttural trills, but, of the pronunciations on forvo, only one example actually trills 'Europa' ( /ʀ/ rather than /ʁ/). This is a completely different sound to the alveolar trill found in Spanish, Italian, etc. (although it is used in some regional dialects of German).
I never had any problem with /ʀ/, but /r/ (and particularly /r̥/) is considerably trickier to acquire the knack of, in my experience.


Wow you've done a lot of languages!


Tongue rolling is a dominant trait; that is, it is genetic and about 80% of people can do it. The other 20% are out of luck, unfortunately.

There is a way to do a sort of gargle in the back of your mouth that works as a substitute, but it is very difficult and hardly worth it.


You are confusing tongue rolling (rolling your tongue into a tube shape) with the rrr sound in many languages. That's trilling and it's not genetic, basically everyone with a functioning mouth and tongue can do it - it just takes practice.


Yes. I can make this noise that sounds kind of like a trilled "r" but it's not a trilled "r." It's also pretty annoying.


It is hard for english speakers, for spanish you can get away with using a 'd' instead until you have more practise. In german i'm not sure.


I used to not be able to do it, then it just kind of came to me naturally; I believe it was the result of constantly listening to R-trilling all the time and being immersed in languages that used it. Of course, I learned it as an early teen, so it may be easier for kids to pick up native-like sounds.


I used to have a lot of trouble with rolling my R's. I was trying out Indonesian at that time and the Indonesian R is rolled. However, I could not do it. I think I spent months attempting to roll my R's at night, with the weirdest sounds only slightly resembling the rolled R coming out.

My breakthrough really came when I listened to some music in a foreign language (not Indonesian) that also had a rolling R. I started singing along after listening to it for a while and suddenly something clicked: I was finally able to roll my R's!

I suggest you listen to a lot of rolled R's in both spoken and sung form if you want to learn how to do it. You should also make sure to relax your tongue. In order to roll the R, it needs to be able to 'wave in the air' which is not possible if it's all tense. Try placing your tongue just a little behind your front teeth just on the edge of the roof of your mouth and let out the air in one big gust while keeping your tongue relaxed. Try to make your lips flap around. You know, a bit like how horses do it. If you do it right you'll feel (and hear) your tongue vibrating. It takes practice to roll your R's, so don't feel bad if it keeps failing. Every single human has the capability to do some really, really awesome things with their voice including the rolled R.

Fortunately, German does not have a rolled R, but a throaty one, so you don't really have to learn how to roll your R's, the same goes for French. Still, I hope this helps.


I believe it is just luck, whether or not you can do it. I know many people in my Spanish class who have not yet learned how to do it, but I believe it is still possible to learn.


I'm having a very hard time rolling my R for spanish words... need to track down specific ways to practice it.


If you don't know how to make a certain sound, you can observe people who do know how to do it. It is a matter of learning how to use your mouth and tongue. We can all make the same sounds. In this case you have to curl your tongue upwards untill right behind your upper teeth. Then you have to open and close the gap repeatedly while exhaling. Maybe you can find an example on youtube.


I can do it ....BUT! Once I learned how I found it hard to incorporate the sound into words, some sound combinations with the German r are very difficult (at least for me). I'm definitely improving with practice though so hopefully I'll master it eventually.


I'd stick with the guttural 'r' that is the same as in French and (parts of) Dutch, I believe.

Although I did notice that the 'r' was trilled sometimes in the Sissi films whiche were on tv these holidays. Is it an Austrian characteristic?

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