Rhotacism – mispronunciation of ‘r’

I was intrigued to discover that there is a condition called rhotacism – I assumed, having come across so many communities in East Africa where ‘r’ is pronounced as ‘l’ that it was more of a cultural issue than a speech challenge.

A quick search led me to this posting which clearly refutes my cultural take and gives an idea of how widespread (look at the list of related posts) the disorder/challenge is.

It’s not too much of an issue for people (silent) reading but it would be a challenge for someone trying to read their work at a writers’ group or other such gathering. I called a place by the wrong name for years as my first introduction to it had been by a group of people all suffering from rhotacism, or at least one person having suffered from it and teaching the others how to pronounce the word. This is particularly relevant to areas where education is not as developed or available as it is in the UK, the US and most of EUrope.

The outcome of this: I’ve learnt a new word and it’s good to know there are ways to overcome the affliction. Now to find a fiction book which mentions the word (search on Google books and you’ll be amazed at the number of books featuring rhotacism).

While I can’t think of any TSL author using rhotacisms, as it’s a common feature in Africa I thought I’d share some TSL Africa related books.

first published 4 February 2018, updated 2024