13. The pronunciation of /r/ in Frisian: A comparative study with Dutch and Town Frisian

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West Frisian is an indigenous minority language situated in the north of the Netherlands. The majority language is Dutch. Both languages traditionally have an alveolar [r]. However, during the last century Dutch has acquired two other variants of /r/, namely uvular [r] and approximant [r]. We examined whether the close contact with Dutch has influenced the pronunciation of /r/ in Frisian. Recordings of 26 speakers of Frisian showed alveolar [r] only. However, we did find traces of uvular [r] in Town Frisian, spoken in the older cities in Friesland. This variant is due to contacts between the urban elites in Friesland and in Holland at the beginning of the twentieth century. Apparently, neither in Dutch nor in Town Frisian has uvular [r] been a model for speakers of Frisian. Also, the more recent approximant has not (yet) infiltrated.


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