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Some find it difficult to form an "r" sound, and some are able to, but just don't. I'm looking for a word which means "not pronouncing r's", without implying inability to pronounce them, though that may be the case.

Specifically, I'd like a word which mean "not pronouncing any r's", but if there's a word which means "not pronouncing some r's" (as in many dialects), that would be interesting to know too.

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I assume you are not looking for "dropping your R's"? –  JeffSahol Sep 22 '11 at 13:15
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Well, r-dropping seems synonymous with non-rhotic to me. –  Daniel Sep 22 '11 at 13:19
    
@drɱ65δ: So are you saying that 'non-rhotic' is -not- the word you're looking for? –  Mitch Sep 22 '11 at 15:40
    
See Peter Shor's comment below Callithumpian's answer. Non-rhotic means dropping most r's. So does r-dropping. I think I'll accept the answer, though, unless someone comes up with a more accurate term. –  Daniel Sep 22 '11 at 16:59
    
In Hungarian, the word for "lisping" (selypítés) is also used for the inability to trill your Rs. Maybe it's time to similarly extend the meaning of the English word? –  Marthaª Sep 22 '11 at 19:33
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2 Answers

up vote 5 down vote accepted

The Wikipedia article on rhotacism gives one definition of that word as “the inability to or difficulty in pronouncing r”.

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Merriam-Webster medical dictionary has that as the only definition, though; maybe it's a medical term. –  Daniel Sep 22 '11 at 20:22
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I have also heard of the speech impediment of being unable to pronounce r sounds, as like Elmer Fudd, as being called a "whorl" but the only evidence I can find of that on Google is me saying the same thing elsewhere. –  nohat Sep 22 '11 at 20:29
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Well, now you've cowobowated yowself. +1 –  Callithumpian Sep 23 '11 at 0:20
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Non-rhotic may be what you're looking for:

English pronunciation can be divided into two main accent groups: a rhotic (pronounced /ˈroʊtɨk/, sometimes /ˈrɒtɨk/) speaker pronounces a rhotic consonant in words like hard; a non-rhotic speaker does not. That is, rhotic speakers pronounce /r/ in all positions, while non-rhotic speakers pronounce /r/ only if it is followed by a vowel sound in the same phrase or prosodic unit (see "linking and intrusive R").

In linguistic terms, non-rhotic accents are said to exclude the sound [r] from the syllable coda before a consonant or prosodic break. This is commonly (if misleadingly) referred to as "post-vocalic R".

Wikipedia

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Non-rhotic is not pronouncing 'r's after vowels, as occurs in many dialects. I would not pronouncing any 'r's a speech impediment (or maybe a foreign accent)--I don't know a more specific term. –  Peter Shor Sep 22 '11 at 12:33
    
@DRɱ65: Thanks. –  Callithumpian Sep 22 '11 at 12:35
    
This is definitely the right word for the native dialectic accents, but I was hoping for that "more specific term" referred to by Professor Shor. –  Daniel Sep 22 '11 at 12:50
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