https://www.duolingo.com/Pe_achy

How important is it to properly pronunce the French R?

Hi guys!

I've been having some struggles with properly pronuncing the French guttural R. Especially if it comes after consonants like "d" and "t" or at the start of a word.

My question is if I can to some extent "cheat" my way by replacing the sound with one that sounds similar. If there is no other way, then I'd like to ask if anyone a good tactic as to how to learn it.

2 Years ago my French teacher actually told me that nobody uses the guttural R in France. She lived in Paris for 3 years before coming back to teach at my school, so I wanted to fact-check this.

Thanks!

April 1, 2019

17 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/LaurynnSnow

I watched a youtube video about R's recently that I wish I could find to link you.

Basically, from what I've learned, there are three kinds of R's, all made with the back of the throat area. There is the standard R which I think is often used in «rendez-vous» for example. According to what I watched this is the type of R that learners should be trying to achieve all the time. As a result of where your mouth was positioned from a previous sound, it can kind of naturally change the sound without you really needing to put a lot of effort in.

Like in the word «mercredi», since r and c are pronounced with the same area in the back of the throat, that [X] throat clearing sound seems pretty much inevitable to pronounce if you are pronouncing the R from where it should be. Even if I'm not trying to make that sound, it still happens for me. I know it also seems to occur in «très» and I'm not sure if just "cr" and "tr" always kind of make this sound. Hopefully someone who knows more can enlighten me.

The rolling R, I don't know as much about. I feel like I do it okay, like in the «la rue». I'm thinking that maybe the rolling comes more natural after the a in «la» because the tongue is all the way down at the bottom of your mouth when you make it, and it gives a lot of room to trill. That's kind of just speculation on my part though.

Either way. I think just focus on the standard deep R from the back of throat, and don't worry too much about the rolling R and the throat clear R. They may come naturally if you are using the right part of your throat to make the sound. If they don't I think you'll still be perfectly well understood. That's just my approach though. Hope it helps.

April 1, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Brasefloly

First of all, please excuse my deplorable grammar, I am French and I have a little trouble with English. In short, to make a good r, you have to clench your teeth and try to clear your throat (normally it's a r). For the d, it is necessary to wedge the tongue between the teeth and to try to imitate the vibrator of a telephone. For the t, you have to press the tongue on the teeth and then force and then take it out a little quickly. It's a little complicated to explain but I hope I could help you;)

April 1, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/DavidMarsh764255

You seem to have an excellent manner in English, and certainly far from "deplorable".

April 1, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/LangAddict

Not as important as you may think. I've seen plenty of people who just rolled their r's like in any other romance language who were fluent in French, people in Canada have it as the norm. There's a good amount of foreigners who live in France and never truly "master" it. With that said, learning to pronounce the French "r" properly could make you sound more "French" in a sense, but it's not mandatory.

April 1, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/EmmaLouG

I feel like an idiot, but I can't think of any words with this type of "r". Could you name a few? I want to use forvo.com to compare myself against natives. I never really thought about it, but now that LangAddict said that some people roll "their r's like in any other romance language", I'm wondering if I'm one of those people.

April 1, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/LangAddict

Seeing as you're studying both French and Italian, a common example I give is the French "parler" https://ja.forvo.com/word/parler/#fr vs the Italian "parlare" https://ja.forvo.com/word/parlare/#it . French uses a harsh, guttural sound whereas Italian, as most romance languages, trills them (of course, it's not as simple as that and there are probably some lovely regional variations).

A guttural R can be found just about anywhere in a word, except when a word ends in "er" , case in which you just pronounce "e" like a normal é sound.

Fun fact, guttural sounds are not exclusive to French. Modern Hebrew has a vaster array of post-velar phonemes that I can't even attempt to describe.

April 1, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/EmmaLouG

Thank you very much!

April 1, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Pe_achy

Well, as I said, usually when the R comes after D or T, so

Comprendre Attendre Vendre

But even

Revenir Retourner Apprendre

Give me a hard time.

April 1, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Firesia

Good luck, our language is hard to learn ^^

April 1, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Zig_Zag_Wanderer

If you are looking for an example, a very good and common one is "trois". I find most anglophones, myself included, cannot say this properly. It does make quite a difference to your accent if you can. I've been mistaken for a Frenchman twice (for which I am very pleased) but when I come across an 'r' you can tell immediately.

I can do the Italian 'r' but the French one defeats me. I have tried, but fall back to saying "twois" like most anglophones in time :(

April 1, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/MaryAnne993219

My sister and her husband went to Lyon. They do not understand French. They were visiting my niece who was doing a junior semester abroad. They came back, not understanding French, but imitating the guttural R's.

April 2, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Firesia

Hi Pe_achy ! Actually, I'm French and I confirm you that I don't know anyone who use the ''Guttural R''. We use more the ''r'' like in your ''ra'' syllabe actually ( I think this is the closest way to say it but i'm not sure...) whithout the ''a'' of course ! (I know this is not really precise...).

April 1, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/kwakwakawa1

It depends on the region. This link will lead you to a map that will answer your question: https://www.reddit.com/r/MapPorn/comments/15yaim/distribution_of_guttural_r_in_continental_europe/

April 2, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Don161616

It depends on how important it is to you. If you keep pushing your r's further back into your throat and practicing them that way, you will eventually get it. I have been working on my r's whenever I am speaking French for over three months, and it feels like they are starting to happen. For the most part, every 'r' in french is in the back of the throat at what they call the glottal stop. You will eventually feel it vibrate back there. In words like Au revoir and parler and trois, the 'r' is almost a whisper. In words/names like Robert and rencontrer, the 'r' is very vocal, very guttural. Just keep focusing on it and it will come. Just takes time.

April 3, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Zig_Zag_Wanderer

Very true.

I've always had a problem with it, but this discussion started me trying it again. For some reason it's come to me quite easily for the first time. It may be because I've been trying to get the Italian 'r'. It's very different, but trying it makes you think about the sounds and mouth movements much more.

April 3, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Lucsa412

The parts where we are supposed to say the sentence I get wrong because It just doesn't hear me correctly, I guess.

April 1, 2019
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