12. mai 2006

Open letter to all Brits

Rambukk is blessed with the pleasure of having several friends and aquaintances living in, or descended from the British Isles.

Blessed because many Brits have a great sense of humour, i.e. compatible with mine (though more often than not served with a dash of malicious pleasure). Brits are culturally related to Norwegians, they are good at small-talk, patient enough for big-talk, they love music (from brass to jazz), beer and football, and they sing (not like the Norwegian murmur). Despite a common prejudice towards the British (fried-) cuisine, there are Brits who know how to cook (-and I happen to know them both!).

Brits are amazing skiers (not amazingly good, just amazing!), provided that there is a Norwegian around on the top to turn their skis in the skiing-direction, then push. Down, at the bottom of the hill, their sportsmanship urge themselves to argue with the paramedics, insisting that they feel "just marvelous!", while collecting gear and bodyparts, limping bravely and determined towards the lift for a new ride.

The Brits are proud traditionalists and consider themselves to be quite unique (which they are!). Not neccessarily a true anecdote, but nevertheless a good one: On the 22nd October 1957, The Times had a headline on the front page, saying "Heavy fog in Channel - Continent cut off!".

The Brits also have quite a strategic mind, illustrated in this joke:

One dark night an Englishman and an Irishman are driving head on, on a twisty road. Both are driving too fast and collide on a sharp bend in the road. To the amazement of both, they are unscathed, though their cars are both destroyed. In celebration of their luck, both agree to put aside their dislike for the other from that moment on. The Englishman goes to the boot and fetches a bottle of 12 year old whisky. He hands the bottle to the Irishman, whom exclaims, "may the Irish and the English live together forever, in peace, and harmony!" The Irishman then tips the bottle and gulps half of the whisky down. Still flabbergasted over the whole thing, he hands the bottle to the Englishman, whom replies: '' no thanks, I'll just wait till the Police get here!"

Are the Brits spotless then? -you might ask.

No, absolutely not. There is one big issue. One question that almost keeps me awake at night. One, existential question that none of my British friends has been able to answer comprehensibly yet.

Some even assert that I must be wrong, and that my imagination is just playing with me.

If you listen carefully to spoken English, whether it be in a conversation, on BBC or in a movie, you will probably hear a sound in-between certain words. A sound that apparently doesn't belong to the words pronounced.

As a linguistic mosquito, the sound of the letter "r" frequently pops up between words ending with an "a"- (or "a"-like) sound and words beginning with one. Also sometimes after words ending with an "e"-sound.

Examples: "law-r-abiding", "al quaida-r-attack" and "gaza-r-area".

My question is simply: Why? Is it some sort of a phonetic crutch, present for the sole purpose of helping with the pronunciation? Is it a genetic defect only audible to people from outside the Queen's Empire?

Or is it just me?

Please educate me!

16 kommentarer:

Anonym sa...

it's your immagination.......otherwise an extremly interesting and well written article.
hammer

LilleMy sa...

Du, jeg spurte en venninne med hovedfag i engelsk om akkurat det der for flere år siden. Jeg fikk faktisk bekreftende svar på at det er akkurat slik du har observert. Fenomenet har til og med et imponerende navn, som jeg selvfølgelig ikke husker. Jeg har en engelskmann nært innpå livet som hardnakket nekter for at det puttes inn "vellyds-a'er" i det engelske språk. Skulle gjerne hatt noe å slå i bordet med, ja. Er det ikke noen som vet dette da?

Grubleline sa...

I think I heard once that it's only in certain dialects that this occurs. That may explain why not everyone has heard about it. Some Englishmen know it, though.

Saccarina sa...

Jeg la spesielt merke til dette fenomenet da jeg så Bridget Jones' dagbok. Renee Zellweger er jo amerikansk, men var svært nøye med å få med disse r'ene i den britiske uttalen sin, nesten litt for nøye etter mitt øre.

Det virker som lydene fungerer som en fonetisk bro mellom ord, altså et helt vanlig språklig fenomen, men det er pussig dersom brukerne ikke hører det selv.

LilleMy sa...

Yesss! Nå vet jeg det! Bokstaven R blir brukt i engelsk for å hindre vokalkræsj i to ulige situasjoner.

1. "Linking R": R i enden av et ord blir uttalt fordi neste ord begynner på vokal (ville i motsatt fall vært stum). Eks "Peter and I".

2. "Intrusive R": En R puttes inn mellom et ord som slutter på vokal og påfølgende ord som begynner på vokal for å hindre vokalkræsj. Denne R'en hører ikke til i noen av disse ordene.
Eks: "Diana(r)and I"

Prince Charles og britiske nyhetsopplesere er gjerne flinke til å få med alle R'ene sine. Det er visstnok slik at jo mer artikulert og "korrekt" uttale, - desto tydeligere slike R'er.

beepbeepitsme sa...

Please write some more in that contankerous language of english. Some of us are ignorantly mono-lingual, like me. (sob)

Ty for visiting my blog and taking the time to comment.

alliene sa...

Åh - nå hadde jeg gledet meg til å briljere med en utlegging om intrusive -r-, men Lillemy beat me to it...

Rambukk sa...

Så var det endelig slutt på endeløse våkenetter med undrende, rødsprengte øyne som tinntallerkner, hvileløst stirrende i taket, mens livets ubesvarte mysterier surret rundt i et vitebegjærlig hode! Nå skal det soves!

But first: The sofa-r-and I-r-and a lager...

Lillemy sa...

Sorry :a:l:l:i:e:n:e! Jeg var riktignok først, men visste dessverre ikke dette selv. Du kan godt få "intrusive-r-æren" siden du kunne det.

Rambukk, -jeg er usigelig glad for at nattesøvnen din er reddet! Kos deg i sofaen!

Banansjokolade sa...

Det der har jeg faktisk aldri lagt merke til før, men etter å ha lest denne artikkelen har jeg lyttet til alle jeg jobber sammen med, og du har jo helt rett. Hvorfor har jeg ikke lagt merke til det før? Og gjør jeg sånn selv? Skummelt dette her..

fabelfisk sa...

Engelsk er uansett utrolig fascinerende! Lurer av og til på hvorfor jeg lot meg overbevise om å studere realfag istedenfor språk..

Quincy Dubois sa...

Rambukk

The intrusive R is an annoying distraction but I think that it is used my people whose diction is less than perfect. The elison prevents them from using less facial muscles.

Now if you want to hear proper English ... visit Ireland!

quincy

Rambukk sa...

Will you buy me a pint of Beamish? Then we can listen to proper English, drinking proper Irish...

Rigmor sa...

I feel obliged to respond in English as you wrote this in English. As a Norwegian stranded in the UK, I really enjoyed this post.

Rambukk sa...

Thanks, Rigmor!

Tillerman sa...

The intrusive R is characteristic of certain English dialects - including mine. In fact, in some parts of England, if someone is not using it you can be almost certain that they learned English as a second language.