Why do native speakers pronounce "Anna and the King" as "Annarand the King?" Why do they put r in between the two a's? Why not use the "y" glide?

  • 13
    Adding an R to that phrase is not common in most of the American dialects I have been exposed to. – mmyers Apr 3 '17 at 16:31
  • 7
    Not even Americans put a "y" glide in "Anna and the King". We might put a glottal stop in to separate the two vowels, but a "y" glide? That would sound horrible. – Peter Shor Apr 3 '17 at 17:02
  • 12
    Native to where? – Gaurav Apr 3 '17 at 18:02
  • 2
    In my school days that was called the "linking r": en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linking_and_intrusive_R#Linking_R (I'm not sure whether this applies to the example, or only to words where an ending r is usually not pronounced). – user221615 Apr 3 '17 at 18:09
  • 3
    Not only is this highly dialect-dependent, people who are native speakers of dialects that do it may flat-out deny that they are doing any such thing, and insist that they cannot hear any 'r' if you record them doing it and play it back to them. – zwol Apr 3 '17 at 22:14

In non-rhotic varieties of English, such as Southern Standard British English (also known as RP), a small non-phonetic glide is commonly thought to separate two vowels across a word boundary. The two glides that are thought to be used are mini articulations of [j] and [w] (the sounds at the beginning of the words yoyo and window). Alternatively, such speakers may use an /r/ to separate the vowel at the end of a word from another following vowel. Here are some examples:

  • The end /ðijend/ "Thee yend"
  • Two uzies /tu:wu:zi:z/ "Two wuzies"
  • Law and order /lɔ:r ən ɔ:də/ "Lawran order"

Which sounds are used where:

You might notice that a [j] sound (the Y in yoyo), is very like the vowel [i] in bee /bi:/, and also similar to the vowel [ɪ] in kit /kɪt/. These three sounds may all be phonetically characterised as high front vowel sounds. If the vowel at the end of the first word ends as a high front vowel (if it ends with an /i:/ or a dipthong ending in /ɪ/) then a [j]-glide may be percieved between the two words. This is what we see in the string:

  • /ðijend/ "thee yend"

You might also notice that [w] is very similar to the [u] and [ʊ] vowels. These are all phonetically high back vowels. If the vowel at the end of the first word has a high back quality, then a [w]-glide may be perceived between the two vowels. This is what we see in the string:

  • /tu:wu:zi:z/ "Two wuzies"

In all other cases—where the vowel is therefore a non-high vowel—an /r/ may be used to separate the two syllables. This is what we see in the string:

  • Law and order /lɔ:r ən ɔ:də/ "Lawran order"

The first word law ends in a non-high back vowel, /ɔ:/, and it is this which provides the right conditions for the use of an intrusive /r/.

The Original Poster's question:

In the string Anna and the first word ends with a schwa vowel, /ə/. This is a mid, central vowel, and is therefore not a high vowel. This rules out a [j] or [w] glide and at the same time allows for an intrusive /r/. Notice that this intrusive /r/ is not mandatory, and at one time was sneered at by prescriptivists—although those days have now passed.

  • 2
    Funny. I actually say something like, "lawn dorder". But I'm American so an /r/ wouldn't be expected. – Todd Wilcox Apr 4 '17 at 6:06

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