Amount of rhoticity in schwar and in vowel+/r/ in American English


We present a preliminary study of the duration of rhoticity in coda-r words in American English. We note that traditional descriptions of American English phonology divide these words into two categories: words that end in a vowel followed by a separate /r/ segment (plus possible final consonant), and words that end in an r-colored vowel (plus possible final consonant). R-colored central vowels are termed here stressed and unstressed schwar. Recordings of 15 speakers of American English producing tokens containing these types of vowels were acoustically analysed, and the durations of the rhotic parts of the tokens were measured. The results demonstrated that stressed schwars were usually completely rhotic, unstressed schwars were usually not completely rhotic, but still had on average longer rhotic portions than the vowels+/r/. These findings have implications for intervention with /r/ disorders, which are encountered commonly in child speech disorders. It is argued that if these findings are borne out in a broader study, there might be no need to teach two different types of coda-r in therapy.


Communication Sciences and Disorders

Document Type





American English, rhoticity, schwar, vowel

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Journal Title

Clinical linguistics & phonetics