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



A few books in the TSL collection give me horripilations:
The Good Vicar by RJ Whitfield, and especially
the Lucifer’s Child trilogy by Gideon Masters
And I really didn’t expect to find the word on a medical page!

If you’ve resisted following the links until now, horripilation is what goosebumps are called.

Amna Agib in The roots that gave birth to magical blossoms could have used horripilations when reference is made to the pleasant sensations felt in some of the stories. However, I don’t think the word would have flowed off the tongue or the stories carried the same weight had horripilation been used in place of her descriptions.

And it turns out the word is used in music too – a music genre.

One lives and learns.

first published 4 March 2018, updated 2024