FREE! Click here to Join FunTrivia. Thousands of games, quizzes, and lots more!
Quiz about This Quiz Made Possible by the Letter R
Quiz about This Quiz Made Possible by the Letter R

This Quiz Made Possible by the Letter "R"


The friendly, familiar letter "R" is indeed a tricky little beastie. "R" you ready to find out more?

A multiple-choice quiz by pu2-ke-qi-ri. Estimated time: 4 mins.
  1. Home
  2. »
  3. Quizzes
  4. »
  5. Humanities Trivia
  6. »
  7. Linguistics

Author
pu2-ke-qi-ri
Time
4 mins
Type
Multiple Choice
Quiz #
277,890
Updated
Dec 03 21
# Qns
10
Difficulty
Average
Avg Score
6 / 10
Plays
5729
Awards
Top 5% quiz!
Last 3 plays: Johnmcmanners (10/10), 1nn1 (10/10), Taltarzac (5/10).
- -
Question 1 of 10
1. By what name do linguists call "R-sounds"? Hint


Question 2 of 10
2. Spanish words with a double R have the most common kind of R-sound in the world's languages. What does it sound like? Hint


Question 3 of 10
3. Linguists call the French and German growling-in-the-throat R-sound a "fricative"-- it's produced with the tongue close enough to some other part of your mouth that air flowing out of the mouth is turbulent and noisy. For the French and German "R," what part of your mouth (and tongue) is this? Hint


Question 4 of 10
4. The exotic "alveolar fricative trill" sounds roughly like "rrrrjjjjj," a trilled "R" followed by a "J" sound. It's the "r with a hacek over it" in the name of the famous Classical composer Dvorak. It's indigenous to which Slavic language? Hint


Question 5 of 10
5. The "R-sound" found in most dialects of English is extremely complicated. What would you have to do with your tongue in order to produce it? Hint


Question 6 of 10
6. At about what age do English-speaking children learn to say their R's? Hint


Question 7 of 10
7. An exceedingly sneaky question about an exceedingly sneaky letter. What IS the R-sound, anyway? Hint


Question 8 of 10
8. No quiz "brought to you by the letter R" would be complete without a question about "R" the letter. So, here it is. Did the Greek alphabet ever have a "rho" that looked like the "R" in the Roman alphabet? (By implication, if you say "no," the Greek alphabet only ever had a rho which looks like the "P" in the Roman alphabet, and the extra diagonal stroke was a purely Roman invention.)


Question 9 of 10
9. People in one particular region of the USA are famous for dropping R's left and right. In which of these cities would you "paahk yah kaaah?" Hint


Question 10 of 10
10. It's fashionable to perform Shakespeare in a British accent, where R's are sometimes not pronounced. But-- would Shakespeare have pronounced his R's?



(Optional) Create a Free FunTrivia ID to save the points you are about to earn:

arrow Select a User ID:
arrow Choose a Password:
arrow Your Email:




Most Recent Scores
Jun 14 2024 : Johnmcmanners: 10/10
Jun 14 2024 : 1nn1: 10/10
Jun 14 2024 : Taltarzac: 5/10
Jun 14 2024 : rahul0: 9/10
Jun 09 2024 : Dagny1: 10/10
Jun 09 2024 : Quizzist: 7/10
Jun 05 2024 : Guest 223: 0/10
May 22 2024 : PurpleComet: 7/10
May 19 2024 : winston1: 7/10

Score Distribution

quiz
Quiz Answer Key and Fun Facts
1. By what name do linguists call "R-sounds"?

Answer: Rhotics

This category of speech sounds is rather odd, because these sounds are produced in completely different ways, as you shall soon see! They are classed together because people think they sound similar, and people learning a second language will tend to replace a foreign-sounding rhotic with the rhotic from their native language.
2. Spanish words with a double R have the most common kind of R-sound in the world's languages. What does it sound like?

Answer: Trilling the tongue against the bony ridge behind the front teeth.

This kind of R is called an "alveolar trill." It's produced by trilling the tip of your tongue against the "alveolar ridge," that ridge of bone behind your front teeth. This is the most common rhotic in the world's languages. Spanish has another rhotic, the "alveolar tap." It is produced by striking the tip of the tongue very rapidly against the alveolar ridge.

Interestingly, in Standard American, the alveolar tap is an allophone of /t/. For fun, contrast your pronunciation of the "T" in "Ted" with the "tt" in "Betty." The first is a normal "T," while the second is an alveolar tap in some dialects of English.
3. Linguists call the French and German growling-in-the-throat R-sound a "fricative"-- it's produced with the tongue close enough to some other part of your mouth that air flowing out of the mouth is turbulent and noisy. For the French and German "R," what part of your mouth (and tongue) is this?

Answer: Back of the tongue body against the uvula.

It's called a "uvular fricative." It can be either voiced (using your vocal cords, like the sound "z") like in French "rouge," or unvoiced (without using your vocal chords, like the sound "s") like in French "lettre." The French and German "R" can also be produced as a uvular trill-- you trill the back of your tongue against your uvula. Sound complicated? You haven't made it very far in this quiz, have you?
4. The exotic "alveolar fricative trill" sounds roughly like "rrrrjjjjj," a trilled "R" followed by a "J" sound. It's the "r with a hacek over it" in the name of the famous Classical composer Dvorak. It's indigenous to which Slavic language?

Answer: Czech

Truly a rare sound in the world's languages. The IPA transcription is a lower-case "r" with a small upside-down capital "T" under it.
5. The "R-sound" found in most dialects of English is extremely complicated. What would you have to do with your tongue in order to produce it?

Answer: Actually, you could use different combinations of these features and still get the same sound.

Wonder how anyone figured this out? In the days before X-rays were found to be so dangerous, linguists took X-rays of volunteers saying different consonants and vowels, so they could see what their test subjects were doing with the different parts of their mouth. Soft tissue doesn't show up very well in X-rays, so they would make their volunteers drink barium or hang a chain of metal beads along their tongue and down their throat (just far enough down that it wouldn't trigger their gag reflex.) Yuck.

Anyway, nobody produced "R" exactly the same. The set of constrictions they would make with the tongue were consistent. But, there seems to be some acoustic trade-off between them-- if you exaggerate the constriction in one area, you can lessen the constriction in another area, and still produce the same sound. Weird, huh?
6. At about what age do English-speaking children learn to say their R's?

Answer: After several years, but even school-age kids may not yet have it completely mastered.

R is one of the last sounds to be learned--in any language-- just because it's so enormously difficult.

Sounds which children learn last tend to be rare in the world's languages. For instance, the English "R" takes many years for children to master fully, and it is extremely rare in the world's languages. The only other "major" language in which it occurs is Mandarin Chinese. This isn't because children are born knowing the distribution of sounds in the world's languages-- it's because sounds learned late are the most likely not to be learned at all. If a generation of children never learns that sound, then it drops out of the language.
7. An exceedingly sneaky question about an exceedingly sneaky letter. What IS the R-sound, anyway?

Answer: Can be a consonant or a vowel.

"R" can be a consonant, of course. A little-known fact is that "R" can also be a vowel. So, what is a vowel? A vowel is the most acoustically prominent sound in its syllable. That "R" can be a vowel is more obvious from a language like Czech, which has wonderful tongue-twisters like "Strch prst skrz krk" ("stick a finger down your throat"). Sanskrit, really Sanskrt, the ancient Indian language, even had a distinction between long and short "R." Now, the shocker: English has vocalic "R"! In the General American dialect of English, the word "burger" is pronounced like "brgr," with two vocalic R's. So there.
8. No quiz "brought to you by the letter R" would be complete without a question about "R" the letter. So, here it is. Did the Greek alphabet ever have a "rho" that looked like the "R" in the Roman alphabet? (By implication, if you say "no," the Greek alphabet only ever had a rho which looks like the "P" in the Roman alphabet, and the extra diagonal stroke was a purely Roman invention.)

Answer: Yes

For most of its history, the Greek alphabet was not the single unified entity that math books and modern editions of ancient Greek texts would have you believe. In Classical Greece, each city-state had its own version of the alphabet. The two versions of rho, the "P-version" and the "R-version," co-existed happily, and sometimes both versions were even used in the same city-state.

The Etruscans adopted the Greek alphabet for their language and gave it to the Romans. The Etruscans, and, hence, the early Romans, used the "P-version." By Rome's Republican period (3rd century BCE), the Roman alphabet had taken its current form, and they had switched to the "R-version" of "R," and the "P-version" came to be used for the sound "P."
9. People in one particular region of the USA are famous for dropping R's left and right. In which of these cities would you "paahk yah kaaah?"

Answer: Boston

America was settled in the 17th century by British colonists who grew up speaking English in Britain. Once in America, these people, especially the ones living in rural areas, had little or no contact with speech communities back in Britain, and their accents began to diverge.

In the 18th century, upper-class British English developed a new phonological rule. "R" could be pronounced at the beginning of syllables, but syllabic and syllable-final "R" were strictly forbidden. Americans living in cities that were important seaports and in close contact with British traders (like Boston) picked up the new British English phonological rule because they thought it was something fashionable. Voila, the R-less Boston accent. Americans living everywhere else did not pick up this new rule, so the General American accent had no limitations on where in a word R's may be pronounced.
10. It's fashionable to perform Shakespeare in a British accent, where R's are sometimes not pronounced. But-- would Shakespeare have pronounced his R's?

Answer: Yes

The R-lessness of RP (Received Pronunciation, that is, "The Queen's English," or the accent you'd have to have to work at the BBC) began in the 18th century as an affectation among London's elite. Before that time, "R" was pronounced in British English just like it is pronounced in today's Standard American.

The pronunciation of Standard American has changed since Shakespeare's day, too. So, it's wrong to think that British English or American English, or any dialect of English, for that matter, is the "correct" or "authentic" dialect for performing Shakespeare.
Source: Author pu2-ke-qi-ri

This quiz was reviewed by FunTrivia editor agony before going online.
Any errors found in FunTrivia content are routinely corrected through our feedback system.
6/18/2024, Copyright 2024 FunTrivia, Inc. - Report an Error / Contact Us