this touched my heart so i wanted to share it with you. every now and again a voice screams out from the darkness and it shows us how following backwards can only lead you to a dead end.
do we have reason to question? it seems so. enjoy…
Is there a way to treat Rhotacism in adults aged 20+
Well, I can only offer my own small experience. I’m 31, and only just recently decided, thanks to being depressed enough (or really, sick enough of being so depressed) to actually look into this. I’ve hated this about myself and spent my whole life running from it, refusing to really face up to it, except to beat myself up about it, especially after yet another awkward social interaction. See, I was told by my mother (correctly) that I have a short palate; she’d said I can’t make the sound R because of that. In fact, I was even in speech therapy as a kid, but only because I had a lisp, which I got worked out. Nothing was ever said to me about my Rs then. So I had no reason to doubt this “fact.”
So during a period of feeling extremely depressed (for this but also larger reasons), I jumped on Google one night, just looking for info about this short palate thing, maybe find others who had it and hear their experiences, for some kind of support I guess? I don’t really know where my mind was at, to tell the truth. So, after wading through some useless info on short palates, I learned the word “rhotacism,” and then took the hop skip and jump internet links to Youtube, where I often end up it seems. And so, literally 20 minutes of Youtube videos taught me how to position my tongue and pronounce a clear R sound! WTF!
Apparently there are two possible tongue positions for R, called “retroflex” and “retracted.” I had been trying to use the retracted position, which the shape of my mouth doesn’t seem to allow (the short palate thing I guess). But the retroflex R, I can do! I don’t know why this was not addressed when I was a kid in speech therapy, leaving me to live with this bullshit all my life, two and a half decades of intense social anxiety (couldn’t even say my own name!). I may have to pick my mom’s brain on this next time we talk…
I won’t go on about the lifting of the weight that’s been on my shoulders all my damn life, let’s just say I feel like the world has a new light to it, and I feel reborn in a way. A long road ahead, but still.
So, I don’t know you or your speech issues, what your Rs sound like, what the error is… a visit to a speech pathologist might be in order. I’m just some guy on the internet. One who is into DIY, and who also doesn’t have money for speech therapy sessions. For you, at least an initial visit might be worthwhile. But for the meantime, look into youtube videos, there are some for rhotacism (mostly geared toward children or parents of children with the impairment… just have to accept that and move on, no self judgement), and some for people learning English as a second language (geared to adults, which is nice). Here are the two that helped me the most right away, teaching retroflex R, which as I said, is the way that works for me. There are others, that teach the other way.
This is part 1 of 4
This second lady has a whole ton of videos working on the R sound
Then, once you get to the point where you can produce a good R sound, you can use these or other word lists for rhotacism, for practicing. Here’s a couple, you can search for more.
Page on schoolwires.com
1,000+ R Words, Phrases, Sentences, & Paragraphs by Place, Syllable, & Blend
Because don’t be fooled– yes, I can make the sound, somewhat consistently, and can even put it in words well enough. But some combinations (“blends”) are harder than others (I find dr- rather tricky, and some of the -er sounds, depending on the consonants coming before). And working it into normal conversation/daily speech is also a whole other matter. You’re going to have to practice, a lot. Do what I did and get a digital voice recorder, and listen to your training sessions. Don’t know about you, but I ALWAYS hated hearing myself talk on recording. Get over that, because it helps your confidence when you hear yourself pronounce it correctly. Assuming you can do so, of course.
And find time EVERY DAY to practice. Do it whenever you’re alone, driving, taking a walk, whatever. Do it silently if you must, just moving your tongue into place, mouthing words, etc. I’m still on the road to normal speech, but I have confidence about it. If I can pronounce the sound, I see no reason why I won’t be able to incorporate it into daily speech. Someday. I do it a little already, but because I’m still learning, and have to say the words with Rs more slowly, I can only use it in certain circumstances thus far, like one word answers or when I have time to “prepare” for making the sound. Still have to develop the muscle memory, and get used to the movements my tongue will have to make depending on the sound progressions in a given word or phrase; timing is also key. I like to think of it as tongue gymnastics; it really is a workout, and my tongue and jaw are sometimes tired from it.
As an added benefit, it brings more consciousness (in a Zen sense) into my life. Speaking is often almost unconscious, the words just come out. Maybe not as much for me, as I would often try to avoid words with Rs in them. This actually leads to a lot of awkward pauses sometimes, which is also embarrassing, but I guess I prefer that to not being understood at all. But like anyone, I have patterns in how I talk and they are unconscious mostly. So I am using this self training not only as a way to speak and therefore communicate more clearly, nor just as a way to feel better and more confident about myself… but also in a sort of a spiritual sense, bringing more consciousness and awareness into my life in general. Weaknesses into strengths, finding solutions in the problem itself.
Because you will have to be conscious of how you talk, in a neutral way, just paying attention, getting your tongue to do what others do effortlessly. Like learning any new skill or sport. The newbs look at the pros and want to be able to perform at that level. Don’t look at the pros. Don’t compare yourself. Be neutral, just look at where you are, and move forward from there.
Will this help anyone? I have no idea. I don’t know shit about speech pathology, what anyone else’s issues are. As I said at the start, I can only offer my own meager experiences and the reflections I’ve had upon them. Maybe I just wanted to share in some way.