/{r/ vs. /Er/ for "air", "stare" etc.

George   Sun Mar 18, 2007 5:09 pm GMT
Why is it that some American English dictionaries list two pronunciations for words like "air", "hair", "there", "stare" etc., one with /{r/ and one with /Er/? That seems odd to me. Also, an even odder thing is that they list the /{r/ pronunciation first, suggesting that it's the most common pronunciation in the United States which is definitely not true.
Lazar   Sun Mar 18, 2007 5:43 pm GMT
I have occasionally seen this in dictionaries. I suppose it's because of the phonetic and phonemic jumbling of historical /E@`/, /E.r/, and /{.r/ as a result of the Mary-merry-marry merger. So it's conceivable that some people might actually use [{r\] for "air", although I can't say that I've heard it much (or ever). So listing /{r/ first would definitely be a mistake, and I think even listing /{r/ at all is probably unnecessary.
Sarcastic Northwesterner   Sun Mar 18, 2007 8:06 pm GMT
Some people here have the Canadian vowel shift, and thus pronounce them as [ær\].