The origin of the French uvular "R"

LAA   Mon Aug 07, 2006 6:12 pm GMT
This is one thing that sounds very "un-Latin" like about French, along with the absence of many vowels at the ends of words. I believe this sound originates with Parisian French, which eventually became the national standard. If it is of Parisian origin, then it could very well be something that was adopted from the Germanic speaking Franks. The Dutch have a very strong, "gutteral R" sound in their language, as do many other Germanic languages, besides English and one other I believe.
greg   Tue Aug 08, 2006 10:04 am GMT
LAA : « (...) along with the absence of many vowels at the ends of words. »
Comme dans Fr <eau> = Al <wasser> = Es <agua>, Fr <lavabo> = Al <Waschbecken> = Es <lavabo>, Fr <oiseau> = Al <Vogel> = Es <pájaro>, Fr <aimée> = Al <beliebte> = Es <querida>, Fr <créée> = Al <erschaffene> = Es <creada>, Fr <aïe> = Al <au> = Es <ay>, Fr <béni-oui-oui> = Al <Jasager> = Es <conformista> par exemple ?

LAA : « If it [le <r> uvulaire] is of Parisian origin, then it could very well be something that was adopted from the Germanic speaking Franks. »
Bien sûr ! D'autant que Louis XIV est l'enfant caché de Clovis...
Fredrik from Norway   Tue Aug 08, 2006 10:49 am GMT
I agree with greg that it doens't seem directly plausible that the uvular r in French should be of Germanic origin.
LAA, you have to remember, that the original uvular sounds in Germanic languages did not represent any r, but sounds that were written g, h and ch. (right, hleif, acht etc.)

The uvular pronounciation of r is something that spread as a French fashion from the 18th century and onwards. The popular explanation is that King Louis XVI (?) was unable to pronounce a normal, rolled r and to flatter him the court adopted his uvular mispronounciation. This history is probably just an urban legend, but the link with infantile mispronounciation might be true. It is a fact that a uvular r is easier to pronounce than a rolled r and it is a very common speech error among children in environments where rolled r is the norm.
greg   Tue Aug 08, 2006 11:25 am GMT
Fredrik from Norway : bzw. im "Louisquatorzischen" Hof, obwohl manche Sprachwissenschaftler vermuten, daß Prozeß seit dem dreizehnten Jahrhundert langsam angefangen sollte.
fab   Tue Aug 08, 2006 2:20 pm GMT
As I previously said in one of these topics, the uvular "r" in French is a recent evolution of the prononciation, it dates backs in the 2 lasts centuries. So it is clearly not of celtic or Germanic origins.

This prononciation has known a wide spread in the 19th and 20th centuries; When France had recieved a lot of imigration from Italy, Spain, Portugal and central Europe. If it has a foreign origin we would have more chance to find it there.

Anyway, the prononciation of these sounds "r", rolled or uvular doesn't have any importance. One can speak French with rolled "r", it still be french. even nowaday you can find native french speakers who roll the "r".

The same way for the "nasal" sounds likes "en", "in", "on", etc. It is not necessary to prononce them "nalized". A lot of regional accents doesn't.
LAA   Tue Aug 08, 2006 5:41 pm GMT
Well, whenever I am speaking a foreign language, I always do my utmost to pronounce it as well as I can, out of respect for that language, even if it is an ugly one.

That uvular "r" in French sounds very "un-Romance" - like to English speakers.

But I don't see how a uvular "r" is easier to pronounce than a rolled 'r'. On the contrary, I find it much easier to roll my "r"s than to pronounce an uvular "r".
Fredrik from Norway   Wed Aug 09, 2006 7:26 am GMT
That's just because you have learnt it that way, LAA. Remember, that uvular r occurs as a speech error in children in environments with rolled r, but never the other way around, as far as I know!
a.p.a.m.   Wed Aug 09, 2006 8:45 pm GMT
French doesn't have many word endings in written form but when you pronounce the word in French, the word has a vowel sound. That is because, in many cases, French words ending in a consonant are silent.
Giorgio   Sat Aug 12, 2006 11:05 pm GMT
Dumbasses, if they could only learn to overcome their nastalgia. I learned to, and all my french word endings are pronnounced.
Guest   Sat Aug 12, 2006 11:06 pm GMT
Ok, ok Georgey,Giorgio you win, what's the matter with your "NASTALGIA", tell us please.
LAA   Sun Aug 13, 2006 2:16 am GMT
So, Fab, you're saying that I won't seem out of place if I speak French with a "rolled r"? In a way, I kind of like the uvular r and nasal vowels of French. It gives it a distinct flavor within the Latin family. But, using a rolled "r" when speaking French will make things a lot easier for me.....