Learning French - Mastering Prounouciation of the French "R"
The French "r" sounds, to most English speakers, like the sound one makes when hocking up a loogy. And please forgive the colorful imagery, but let's call a spade a spade here. Technically the sound is referred to as a "uvular r" or an "r" that is produced in the back of the throat involving the hanging-down-thingy i.e., the uvula.
And I normally would not talk about the point of articulation, but as this sound is so, well foreign, to most English speakers, it bears mentioning for the following reasons. To the untrained ear, the French "r" sounds a little like an "l" and then again a little like an "h." Let's face it - it's a hard sound to nail down and consequently, when most English speakers try to imitate the sound, it invariably comes out a hybrid of the two. But if you know where the sound is supposed to be coming from then you have a fighting chance of getting it right.
With these few suggestions, you can be well on your way to mastering the French "r." By the way, not all dialects of French have the same "r" sound. Some have the trilled r very similar to that in Spanish. So, if after many trials the standard French "r" just isn't coming, revert to the trilled r in Spanish - you won't sound Parisian but you won't sound totally foreign either.
Okay, here we go. Start practicing by pretending to clear your throat. But while clearing your throat raise the back of your tongue a little. If you do it correctly, you will notice a little tickle on the back of your tongue. Keep practicing that until it you can pronounce it with less and less effort. And remember, "r" sounds at the end of words like beurre, the word for "butter." are pronounced very gently, almost imperceptibly. Watch the attached Youtube video and good luck! Remember... practice does make perfect.
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