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I occasionally hear "br" in words such as bridge, bring or British, pronounced with almost a bilabial trill.

One example is the word "bring" in The Assumption Song by OneyNG, around 35 seconds in.

Is it a dialect thing? Does it have a name? Am i imagining it? It certainly sounds nothing like the careful pronunciation samples in online dictionaries.

Thank you. I know nothing about linguistics, but hope you might have an answer. Any terms that I have used incorrectly are the result of my ignorance.

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    It's possibly being used instead of an alveolar trill (rolled R) by someone who can't roll their Rs properly in a dialect that uses rolled Rs. Non-standard, then, but there is a lot of variation in R sounds, including various non-standard pronunciations.
    – Stuart F
    Commented Jun 16, 2023 at 9:26
  • It would help to provide information on who is doing this, where they are from, what dialect they speak, etc. (I have never heard of OneyNG, and it's good to have this info in the question.)
    – Stuart F
    Commented Jun 16, 2023 at 9:33
  • Bilabial trills are a completely different thing from coronal trills or uvular trills. You meant coronal trill, not bilabial.
    – tchrist
    Commented Jun 16, 2023 at 12:18
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    @tchrist That's what I initially thought, but then I realised that for those people who have a labiodental flap or labiodental approximate for an /r/, which is quite common now in so-called RP, there is often a small bilabial trill, I think, in words that begin with a bilabial plosive. I've never noticed that this is what it is, but I've used it as a quick diagnostic to tell if a speaker has a labiodental /r/, although it only works to rule it in. Its absence doesn't rule it out. It sounds very distinctive. So you might get it in words like bring or princess. Commented Jun 16, 2023 at 12:59
  • @StuartF, I don't have good examples. OneyNG is Irish. IIRC, Lindybeige and the members of Yogscast sometimes do it. I found three more clips. I don't associate it with Americans. You be the judge. First clip at 8:23 - 8:29 both say "bright," second pronunciation is more distinct. Secondly, (exasperated) at 3:32 the word "brilliant". Finally, a possible instance at 0:48 - 0:53 (misspeaks) "BRAGE".
    – arctiq
    Commented Jun 16, 2023 at 21:02

2 Answers 2

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Araucaria's comment pointed me in the right direction, specifically this line:

for those people who have a labiodental flap or labiodental approximate for an /r/, which is quite common now in so-called RP, there is often a small bilabial trill, I think, in words that begin with a bilabial plosive

In some dialects (particularly of British English), R can be pronounced as a labiodential approximant [ʋ] (see Wiki), a process known as R-labialization. As Scobbie (2006) notes:

With heavily labialized /r/, bilabial trills corresponding to the clusters /br/ and /pr/ can even be found.

Unfortunately, Scobbie does not cite any sources for this claim, so all I can say is that you and Araucaria are not the first to notice this phenomenon.

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The "bbr" sound in the Assumption Song is closer to an emphasis on the "br" in the word "bring" than a trill.

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