Exercises: Rhoticity

A list of icons: a book with the letters ENG; a piece of paper with a pencil; an audio symbol; a speech bubble, and some blocks depicting the letters "a, b, c" - the audio symbol and the speech bubble are highlighted in blue

Rhoticity in English is one of the most prominent distinctions by which varieties of English can be classified. Standard varieties such as American English (AmE) and British English (BrE) are highly defined by the particular pronunciation of the ‚r‘. A corresponding article on this blog informs you about this particularity of the English language. With the four exercises here you can practice your knowledge on rhoticity! Have fun!

Task 1: Drag the words

Decide, according to the phonetic transcription of each word, if the word is pronounced in a rhotic or non-rhotic way. Drag the word in the corresponding drop zone. Finally, click on the blue box below to check your answer.

Task 2: Mark the words

Read the sentences and click on those words that allow a non-rhotic pronunciation. Pay attention: In non-rhotic varieties there are ‚r‘ sounds that cannot be dropped!

Task 3: Reading and Recording

Read the sentences from task 2 out loud and record yourself. First, try to pronounce the relevant words or sequences of words with a rhotic pronunciation. Secondly, try the non-rhotic way. In both cases, listen critically to your recording and try to identify improvement potential. You can try as many times as you like.

  • I have no fear of the dark.
  • I’m not afraid of walking alone through the park.
  • There are many cars in our street.
  • Sometimes, I dream of frozen yoghurt with strawberries.
  • I like travelling in winter and spring.
  • In general, my stress level is very high.
  • My four friends have founded an art school for children.

Task 4: Listening and recording

Listen to the audio file below. Afterwards, read the text out loud and record yourself. Try to imitate the rhotic pronunciation from the audio file. Do not hesitate to exaggerate! The crucial words are highlighted in red. Finally, compare your recording to the original file and try to identify improvement potential.

Auntie’s Skirts by Stevenson, R. (1913)

Whenever Auntie moves around,
her dresses make a curious sound.
They trail behind her up the floor
and trundle after through the door.

Audio file source: Stevenson, R. (1913). Auntie’s Skirts. A Child’s Garden of Verses: Selected Poems (Lit2Go Edition). Retrieved December 20, 2019, from https://etc.usf.edu/lit2go/59/a-childs-garden-of-verses-selected-poems/4708/aunties-skirts/

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