Here is an example where r occurs before vowels:

The shelter of your arms, Mother Earth

I'm referring to this service for transcription.

British transcription shows that none of them are silent:

ðə ˈʃɛltər əv jər ɑːmz, ˈmʌðər ɜːθ

This conforms to how first TTS engine installed on my system pronounces it, there are 3 linking rs.

While second TTS engine has only 1 linking rs, it sounds more like:

ðə ˈʃɛltə əv jər ɑːmz, ˈmʌðə ɜːθ

I considered the lack of linking r between shelter and of unnatural, but I could be wrong. And I'm not sure about Mother Earth, it didn't sound wrong without linking r.

Did second engine get it wrong? Should all of these linking r's be pronounced as a rule of thumb? Considering that no logical pause between words is intended (e.g. punctation), is it acceptable for r to be silent before vowels and what are those cases?

I primarily refer to Standard British English but if there are acceptable variations, I would like to know about them.


1 Answer 1


I played back the text-to-speech of the text after pasting it into the UI.

When I listen to it, I hear all of the rs pronounced and only a single pause—where the comma is. So, I can't understand what you're describing.

I'm reminded of Yanny vs. Laurel. Listening to it, and the explanation, is educating. (For what it's worth, I hear "Yanny.")

Perhaps, as with Yanny vs. Laurel, you don't hear the first r, and therefore it seems to be a pause, while I actually do hear the r, and therefore no pause.

  • I haven't listened to it, but surely it depends on how slowly and carefully the person is speaking. In casual conversation you would elide the words and put in the 'r' sound, but if reading a poem in public (your phrase sounds like something literary) you would be more inclined to separate the words and use standard pronunciation. Commented Jun 3, 2018 at 7:58
  • Sorry for the confusion, I just noticed that the service uses engines that are installed on my system for TTS, so referring to how it plays them is absolutely uninformative. Thank you, Yanny vs Laurel is a great example, reminds me of 'spinning dancer' illusion with a bit of psychoacoustics. I updated the question with actual sound files to be unambiguous.
    – ordo
    Commented Jun 3, 2018 at 10:18
  • @ordo Oh! Yes, I'll let somebody else answer that variation. :) Although I'll note that I've yet to hear voice synthesis that is completely natural sounding. It would be interesting to conduct a study on how actual people pronounce the text differently . . . Commented Jun 3, 2018 at 15:58

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