Re: [tied] Re: Lawwy.

From: Piotr Gasiorowski
Message: 8845
Date: 2001-08-29

Welcome to the list, Phil.
The labiodental approximant [V] (which could be defined as a "lax" version of [v], pronounced without any lip-rounding and without audible friction, as if halfway between [w] and [v]) is a rather common substitute for English /r/. I suspect that Lawwy's speech disorder was of that kind. The substitution of /w/ for /r/, so that "red" and "wed" don't contrast at all, has also been reported, but is vewy, vewy wawe.
The cause of the defect can't be determined confidently without examining the speaker in question. It could be some minor physical malformation or impairment of neuromuscular control, impeding articulations involving the tip of the tongue (at least one person on this list will inevitably think of damage caused by heavy-metal poisoning). If Lawwy parents were British, perhaps one of them had a similar condition and Lawwy simply happened to imitate the wrong model. This "labiodental /r/" is, I think, more common in Britain than in the US (it apparently better matches the British realisation of /r/ in acoustic terms) and even used to be regarded as an upper-class affectation. Now the tide has turned and some authors associate it with Estuary English for a change -- without good reason, as far as I'm able to judge.
----- Original Message -----
From: gibbsp@...
Sent: Wednesday, August 29, 2001 10:54 PM
Subject: [tied] Re: Vwikings.

In High School one of my classmates always pronounced his R's as W's, Elmer Fudd-like.  At the time I wondered why but forgot about it until this posting tweaked my memory.  His mother tongue (and his parents') was English so it was not caused by his learning a new language imperfectly.  My question is what would cause his inability to form the r sound.  By the way, his first name was Lawrence so he always introduced himself as Lawwy.