The campaign to save the letter R starts here! – Scotsman comment

The Lancastrian accent appears to be losing the strong R at the end of words

The letter R is in trouble. According to a new study, one of the last strongholds of the “strong R” in England – east Lancashire – could be about to fall. Traditionally, Lancastrians, like Scots, pronounce the letter R at the end of words, rather than turning it into an extension of the vowel sound. Researcher Dr Danielle Turton said this meant that Lancastrian speakers “usually differentiate between pairs of words such as 'stellar' and 'stella', whereas most of England would consider them to be the same”.

However, Dr Turton added that, while the accent survives in Blackburn, the R sound is weak among young people “which raises the question of whether future generations will even hear these weak Rs at all, and whether this distinction will eventually fade away”.

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A few hundred years ago, most of England pronounced the letter R properly – as a consonant. Given it’s now almost gone, will Scotland be able to hold out? Take to the streets! Write to your MSP! The campaign to save the 18th letter of the alphabet starts here (and not ‘hee-ya’)!



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