What's Harder?
Rolling R's
60.8% (101)
60.8% (101)
Pronouncing L's
10.8% (18)
10.8% (18)
I'm sticking with English
27.7% (46)
27.7% (46)
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Poll: Rolling R's and Pronouncing L's

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Bit of an odd question. So i'm trying to teach my gf how to say a few words in japanese but she can't roll her R's. it's been 20 min. and she's not even close. I'm also applying for teaching positions in japan to be an english teacher so i know the issue of L's is gonna come up, what do you guys think is harder?

Well, I don't know Japanese, but I have played around with a few European languages that had the rolling R sound, but that was easy for me. However, my bf can't do it to save his life. Some people just can't, I suppose.

On a sort of unrelated note, I've been studying Chinese for 4 years now and there are so many sounds that I still mess up. Like tones, and certain words like 'qu' (pronounced: Chew, but more emphasized) And remembering the difference between words like 'zuo' and 'zou' and 'dou' and 'duo' and 'dao'. Urgh...

Pfft, I'm from eastern(pronounced eastin) Massachusetts. L's are(ah) fine, but you're(yaw) lucky if you get the 'r'('ah') in the first(omg there's one!) place.

Rolling Rs are definitely harder. Don't people tend to use the L consonant more often than rolling their Rs?

Rolling R's. I still can't do it, and I've been trying for years. I read somewhere that rolling R's is supposed to be a genetics thing, and some people just can't do it.

I'm one of those unfortunates. I took Spanish for years and not once did I roll an r. I cant pronounce most things being a New Yorkah, but I think the r is just a hereditary ailment.

As an English-speaker, I'd say rolling R's, even though I can do it perfectly fine. I'd imagine pronouncing L's would be more difficult for a Japanese speaker, though.

The Japanese don't roll Rs (well, ok, most don't, Hot Blooded types like Sanosuke Sagara do, it's not normal) so what are you doing trying to get your girlfriend to do it?

As for L, while the language may not have an equivalent they sure are capable of making its sound. You'd have to teach students to associate that sound with the letter. Naturally, that'd be harder, since the rolling R isn't actually an issue.

I've had a friend who couldn't say R the way it's supposed, and what he did was he started saying D in place of every R. When you speak quickly, the D sound is almost the same as R. After a while he learned to say R just fine. Maybe you could try that. (I had problems with R too when I was younger, but I learned it just by starting to say it the right way, even though it took a bit more effort.)

As for L, it should be a lot easier. They just have to remember there's a difference between the two. I'm pretty sure they would be able to make the sound just fine.

I would wonder if some people are physically incapable of rolling r's, or it may be especially difficult to English speakers. My old housemate, when she was learning Italian, tried and failed to roll her r's.

I know some people who absolutely cannot roll their Rs. When I was taking Spanish in High School there were some people who the teachers actually recommended change to a different language because they were incapable of pronouncing their Rs right.

I'm from belgium and the language I speak at home is dutch. But we learn french in school and we are supposed to speak both languages.

So yea I can speak french. But the rolling R is annoying. For some words or sentences it comes easy. "Va te faire foutre" comes to mind xD. But mostly I can't pull it off. It feels so unnatural.

I'm Welsh, the rolling r is a letter in the alphabet of my native tongue, and I can't do it.
Live in England now, so it's no big deal, but I spent the best part of a decade completely incapable of speaking my own language properly.

evilneko:
The Japanese don't roll Rs (well, ok, most don't, Hot Blooded types like Sanosuke Sagara do, it's not normal) so what are you doing trying to get your girlfriend to do it?

As for L, while the language may not have an equivalent they sure are capable of making its sound. You'd have to teach students to associate that sound with the letter. Naturally, that'd be harder, since the rolling R isn't actually an issue.

I'm curious now too, as the r/l sound is essentially mixed in Japanese, it's both and neither. What words are you rolling r's on?

Hehe... I'm German, my language has a lot of funny sounds that don't exist in english as well. Including rolling Rs but also some sounds coming from the throat without any voice like the two CH-sounds.

When I was in the USA on a student exchange and was asked to teach a little German to a class i couldn't even get them through counting to ten properly because they got stuck at the Ü-sound in "fünf" (5). Not even their teacher could do it right. :D

So no, I don't really envy you for the hassle of teaching people to make a sound they never made before.

shadowstriker86:
Bit of an odd question. So i'm trying to teach my gf how to say a few words in japanese but she can't roll her R's. it's been 20 min. and she's not even close. I'm also applying for teaching positions in japan to be an english teacher so i know the issue of L's is gonna come up, what do you guys think is harder?

I remember a experiment where Ls and Rs where played to a first group of Caucasian babies and than Japanese babies. Long story short the Japanese kids did not perceive any difference in R and L. The suggestion is that Japanese people naturally/genetically are unable to pronounce R properly.

I'm still a student but I'm pretty sure that the ability to learn language is not only wired into us but is also unique for each 'race'.

Well I lived in Spain, so rolling r's is second nature to me. So I'll have to go with l's. I have the same problem actually, I've been trying to teach my girlfriend to roll her r's for weeks :P

I honestly can't say. I don't have trouble with either. They're quite easy to me.

Rolling rs. I can do it about 1 out of 3 times or I just trip over them xD

PatrickXD:
I'm Welsh, the rolling r is a letter in the alphabet of my native tongue, and I can't do it.
Live in England now, so it's no big deal, but I spent the best part of a decade completely incapable of speaking my own language properly.

This is a little off-topic but you said you were Welsh so I just thought I'd say... this is awesome! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Llanfairpwllgwyngyll
I could hear that being read out aall day. I even tried aaall day to pronounce the silly thing but, well, you can guess how that turned out. Your native tongue is amazing. Can you tell me, is it related to Irish Gaelic much at all?

When I learned Spanish in school I just could not roll R's. What I did was saying "Pedro" over and over again, finding it easier to roll with a D in front of it. Then I tried to quickly shift my "chanting" to "Perro". After a few days I could roll R's without any problems, feeling pretty proud of myself.

But as several people already pointed out, the Japanese tend to mix L/R into one sound.

The difficulty is that the rolling R sound is not found in a lot of english, and the L sound technically doesn't exist in Japanese. So unless you have a dextrous tongue, you will be unable to pronounce one or the other.

When I learned katakana, I spent more time facepalming than learning the new words. I remember my professor writing down KA RU GA RI, and I was sounding it out in my head. After a couple seconds, I asked her "is that Calgary? =|" and she was "Hai!", much to my disdain... Katakana is the perfect example of how "good" Japanese is at adopting words in other languages.

Unless we find people who speak a language where both the L and the Rolled R is absent I don't think we can get a valid comparison. Since I speak English the hard/rolled R sounds are hard for me as they are not used in English to any large degree.

shadowstriker86:
Bit of an odd question. So i'm trying to teach my gf how to say a few words in japanese but she can't roll her R's. it's been 20 min. and she's not even close. I'm also applying for teaching positions in japan to be an english teacher so i know the issue of L's is gonna come up, what do you guys think is harder?

I'm actually in the same position as you, in that I'm hoping to teach in Japan once I've had a few more years building up a bedrock of savings. Personally, I found the 'rolling R' thing to come pretty naturally. I think it really depends on the person.

Good luck with the teaching, by the way.

shadowstriker86:
it's been 20 min. and she's not even close

Oh no! Twenty whole minutes!

Sometimes, things like this take time. My old phonetics teacher had to practice for weeks before she could pronounce the R the way we do in the Netherlands. She was German, and taught English.

So the best advice I can give you, is to keep practicing.

I did 2 years of Japanese and I picked up the rolling 'R' quite quickly, I couldn't tell you if it had anything to do with my speech difficulties that I had as a child or hearing difficulties but it was probably the easiest thing I picked up.

I imagine learning 'L' would be more difficult, differentiating between 'R' and 'L' would be confusing as well. I knew quite a few people from Japan and China and they would always get them mixed up/pronounce wrong.

Depends on what your native language is. Most English speakers have difficulty rolling their 'r's but I'm bilingual so I've never had trouble with either of those consonants. Most other Europeans roll their 'r's, except for the French who kind of vomit them out.

I've been rollin' R's and pronouncing L's since I was 2. Generating the sound is easy. All you have to do is move your tongue to the top of your mouth as you exhale

there is only one place where rolling Rs is EVER appropriate, and that is here:

(minor spoilers ahead)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qx3A2TdAuOI

I guess both for me are pretty easy so I can't answer. Maybe if I go study Logopaedics I might give you an answer in 5-6 years ;)

Greyah:

shadowstriker86:
it's been 20 min. and she's not even close

Sometimes, things like this take time. My old phonetics teacher had to practice for weeks before she could pronounce the R the way we do in the Netherlands. She was German, and taught English.

For her sake, I hope that she never learned how to pronounce that gargle Dutch G heard in the northern regions ( pretty much anywhere not-Limburg ). Because if there is one thing that is absolutely not charming about the Dutch language, it's the way the G is pronounced.

Anyway...

I must uphold a different definition of a "rolling R" than you do, because the only rolling r's I ever encountered in Japanese were spoken by would-be thugs trying to sound tough, never in any day to day conversation with 'normal' people.

As for rolling r's or L's... my native language does not have rolling r's, but I don't have any trouble with pronouncing them.

Edit:
Instead of worrying about the way you or your girlfriend pronounce the R in Japanese, worry about the way you pronounce your vowels, because vowels are pronounced quite differently in Japanese than they are in English and hearing an English native speak Japanese is always kinda funny.

bluegate:
For her sake, I hope that she never learned how to pronounce that gargle Dutch G heard in the northern regions ( pretty much anywhere not-Limburg ). Because if there is one thing that is absolutely not charming about the Dutch language, it's the way the G is pronounced.

Oh, don't worry. I live in Noord Brabant, so we have that soft G as well. Thing is, while she tried really hard to learn it, she just couldn't do it. Turns out, Dutch is rather difficult language to learn to speak properly.

For me it's rolling 'R's... I just can't do it =[

"L" is simple, just make your tongue pointy and stick the tip just back a bit from behind your teeth, then exhale using soft notes.

Rolling R is harder as it's more a technique you have to learn yourself. Flatten out your tongue and flick it to the top of your mouth, hoping exhaled air catches it and shacking it around like Shakira's hips. Only works for me for about a tenth of a second before I fail miserably then run down the nearest dark ally crying to beat up some creepy foes in despair.

Really? People can't do rolling R's? That's news to me.

Considering Norweian has both rolling Rs and no problems with pronouncing L I cant really relate :)

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