Wednesday 1 October 2014

... say how old ...

On the 29th of September Paul Carley from the University of Bedfordshire
credit: Bedfordshire University
drew our attention to an instance of r-liaison (aka intrusive r) in the sentence "[...] and I wouldn't like to say how old our oldest player is" said by a North-East female speaker in a BBC Radio 4 interview. The /r/ pops up between "how" and "old". Listen to this extract. You first hear the complete sentence, next "say how old" at normal speed and then twice the same section slowed down by 38 per cent.

Here’s another sample dug up by Paul: David Cameron in a speech to the UN said this:

“Isolation and withdrawing from a problem like ISIL will only make things worse.”

Listen to the word highlighted in red:
There’s no letter <r> leading speakers into temptation.


  1. Nice editing! If only I had bank of such clips for teaching purposes. So often students just don't want to take my word for it.

  2. Paul, with your torrent of comments on FB you are laying the grounds for such a phonetic data base!

  3. Perfectly regular and expected. This is the home counties regional [æɒ] for MOUTH (just like popular London), reduced to [æ] here, so we get æ + r + aɔ (home counties regional GOAT is [aɔ]). So nothing strange at all. Very different in RP.

  4. The first speech sample isn't "home counties regional" though, is it? It's northern to my ears, though I'd say more likely to be Yorkshire than the stated "north-eastern" (which I take to be Durham/Northumberland).