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Intrusive R and Linking R Research Paper


The history of English can be very interesting to study. English is a universal language, spoken in various countries across the world. However, different people from different regions speak this same language in a different manner. When a Briton is speaking English, there would be some noticeable differences from the speech that would be made by a Scottish or an American.

The difference would even be bigger when it comes to speaking of this language among Africans. According to Ball, the difference can be too big that an individual would not be in a position to understand the other because of this contrast (45).

This difference in pronunciation can be attributed to historical evolution of this language. The language has evolved over the years in different regions in a different manner. American English differs from British English majorly due to the pronunciation. As Bauer notes, this difference majorly results from the pronunciation of the word R (45). There are varieties of non-rhotic English across the world.

These varieties have different ways of pronouncing the sound r when it comes at different locations in a sentence. In rhotic English, the letter r would always be silent when such word is pronounced. For example, the word international would be pronounced differently depending on the speaker.

When a Saudi Arabian pronounces this word, the sound that would come out would be international. This speaker would pronounce the word the way it is written. In normal English (British English), the phonetics of the above word would be intanaeshonol. A number of differences comes out in the above two pronunciations. The two sentences below may also be pronounced differently depending on the individuals:

a) Her eyes

b) Her rise

To analyze the pronunciation of the above two sentences comprehensively, we would look at how intrusive R, linking R and Lexical are affect the way words are pronounced.

Intrusive R

In non-rhotic English, some cases occur where in a sentence, the sound ‘r’ would be introduced in between two words that end and start with a vowel sound in places where they never existed before. Intrusive R is always witnessed when a word ending in a vowel sound is preceded by another vowel sound at the beginning of a subsequent sound.

This can be witnessed in the first sentence that is, her eyes. The sound /a/ in the word ‘her’ is a vowel sound and it is immediately followed by another vowel sound /a/. In non-rhotic English, the word would be pronounced with an ‘r’ between the two sentences.

The two sentences would have a similar pronunciation as follows:

a ) Hαrais

b) Hαrais

The two phrases may not bring the meaning of intrusive R because in sentence (a), the first word has an ‘r’ in its spelling. The second sentence (b) begins with an ‘r’. When the phrase tuna oil is pronounced in non-rhotic English, it would sound as tjuːnər ɔɪl. The point that is worth noting with intrusive R is that it is always introduced in places it never existed before. The above phrase did not have ‘r’ in its original structure. However, when pronounced, the ‘r’ intrudes into the structure that is, between the two words.

Linking R

In normal cases, most of the English words that end with R preceded by a vowel always lack the sound R. For example, in the sentence (a) above, the word ‘her’ would be pronounced as ha. The word lacks the sound ‘r’ though the sentence has an ‘r’ in its structure. However, in non-rhotic English, this word may be pronounced with r if the word that comes after the word is a vowel. Taking the first sentence above:

Her eyes

This sentence would have ‘r’ in the word her when pronounced in non-rhotic English. It would come out as

Hαr ais instead of ais.

The final sound that would come out of the above sentence would therefore be

Hαrais instead ofais

This can cause real confusion if the sentence is left as above. This is so because the next sentence would be pronounced exactly in a similar way. The second (b) sentence would be pronounced as shown below:


This would cause confusion to a person listening to the two words pronounced. The two would be pronounced as in non-rhotic English:

a) Hαrais (her eyes)

b) Hαrais (her rise)

The above two sentences have no relationship whatsoever. The first sentence talks about the woman’s body part, the ‘eyes’ in specific. The second sentence talks about the woman’s success that is, rise from the previous position to the current higher position. Listening to the above two sentences spoken in non-rhotic English, for example the American or Scottish English, one would not be in a position to detect the real meaning of the word unless the sentence is given further details. Broadbent (300) says that the above two sentences can be supplied with other words or phrases to give them meaning. The two words can be enhanced as follows.

a) Hαrais are sexy.

b) Hαrais was consistent

In the above sentences, it would be easy to rule out the phrase ‘her rise’ because the ‘rise’ cannot be sexy. It would leave the listener with no doubt that the speaker is talking about eyes and not rise. In the second sentence, it would also leave the listener with no doubt about what the speaker would be meaning.

It may not make sense when one talks about ‘yes’ being consistent. In both cases, it would require an individual to understand the context under which an individual is speaking in order to be in a position to understand the context under which an individual is communicating (Rasinger 21).

The Difference between Intrusive R and Linking R

The difference between intrusive R and linking R is very clear. Both have their names originating from their roles. In intrusive R, the sound ‘r’ is introduced between two words that never had ‘r’ in their written structure, as long as the vowel sound follow each other in the two sentences.

In essence, this ‘r’ intrudes into a place it never existed before. On the other hand, linking R appears when a word ending with ‘r’ is followed by a word that begins with a vowel sound (Wilsen 176). The sound ‘r’ would therefore be acting as a linking word. They have a different in terms of origin but they are phonetically similar. The difference between intrusive R and linking R would be evidenced in the sentence structure (Milroy 34). From the analysis, it can be observed that the two vowels differ significantly.

Works Cited

Ball, Martin. “Distributional and stylisticvariation in ⁄ r ⁄ -misarticulations: a case study”. Clinical Linguistics and Phonetics, 20.1 (2006): 119–124. Print.

Bauer, Laurie. “Linking ⁄ r ⁄ in RP: some facts”. Journal of the International Phonetic Association, 14.1 (1984): 74–79. Print.

Broadbent, Judith. “Linking and intrusive r in English”. UCL Working Papers in Linguistics, 3.1 (1991): 281–302. Print.

Milroy, Lesley. Observing and Analyzing Natural Language, Oxford: Blackwell, 1983. Print.

Rasinger, Sabastian. Quantitative Research in Linguistics: An Introduction, London: Continuum, 2008. Print.

Wilsen, John. “The sociolinguistic paradox: data as a methodological product”. Language and Communication, 7.1 (1987): 161-77. Print.

This Research Paper on Intrusive R and Linking R was written and submitted by user Jazmin Sutton to help you with your own studies. You are free to use it for research and reference purposes in order to write your own paper; however, you must cite it accordingly.

Jazmin Sutton studied at the College of William & Mary, USA, with average GPA 3.02 out of 4.0.

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Sutton, J. (2019, December 30). Intrusive R and Linking R [Blog post]. Retrieved from

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Sutton, Jazmin. "Intrusive R and Linking R." IvyPanda, 30 Dec. 2019,

1. Jazmin Sutton. "Intrusive R and Linking R." IvyPanda (blog), December 30, 2019.


Sutton, Jazmin. "Intrusive R and Linking R." IvyPanda (blog), December 30, 2019.


Sutton, Jazmin. 2019. "Intrusive R and Linking R." IvyPanda (blog), December 30, 2019.


Sutton, J. (2019) 'Intrusive R and Linking R'. IvyPanda, 30 December.

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