French R

Jérémy   Wed Aug 08, 2007 7:15 pm GMT
Yep, that was the French word but I thought it might be tricky in French for English speakers too, like "rire".
You're right, most of the time French R's are hardly voiced, or even not at all.
OïL   Thu Aug 09, 2007 2:17 am GMT
Indeed, contrary to what Wikipedia says, R's are virtually unvoiced in modern standard French. Except (just a little bit) after voiced consonants, but still there's a big difference between Fr. <grade> and Ger. <gerade> ; in German the uvular R's are always strongly voiced.

It's a recent evolution in French. Old black and white movies from the mid-50's show that most R's were definitely voiced back then. That was a trademark of the old Parisian accent.

In Belgium R's are unvoiced in all positions, which gives a sort of special harshness, e.g. in the local pronunciation of <Bruxelles>: vocal chords stop vibrating for a few milliseconds between the B and the U.

On the other hand, in Canada and on the French Mediterranean rim the voiced R's are predominant.

A lovely musical video ("Le Sport c'est de la Merde") showcasing plenty of R's with the lyrics displaying:
Jérémy   Thu Aug 09, 2007 6:48 am GMT
In Switzerland, R's are often VERY harsh ! I'm sorry for their throats :-D