My native language is Korean. For me, the French R is too hard to pronounce.

It seems the only uvular consonants that I can easily pronounce are stops, e.g. [q], [ɢ], and [ɴ]. Yet French R is not a stop.

For [ʁ], it's quite hard to place my tongue to make this approximant. It doesn't make a complete oral cavity like a stop, yet it constricts the airflow unlike a vowel. I can't easily match this intermediacy.

For [ʀ], I seem to be impossible to make this trill. Whenever I try to pronounce this, epiglottal [ʢ] is made instead.

Yet for strange reasons, it's quite easy to pronounce pharyngeal consonants. So I wonder if a native French would understand my pronunciation if I pronounced the French R as [ʕ]. Would they?

  • 2
    Do you have an example of language where this epiglottal is used? Or even a sound sample? Is it that one [fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/… ?
    – XouDo
    May 18 '21 at 7:41
  • @XouDo Err... Link is broken? May 18 '21 at 8:12
  • this one should work
    – XouDo
    May 18 '21 at 8:15
  • 1
    @XouDo [ʕ] and [ʢ] are different consonants. There are few languages that has [ʢ], but according to Wikipedia, it is used in Iraqi Arabic. May 18 '21 at 9:01
  • You are refering to [ʢ] also in your question. Anyway, is there a langage using that [ʕ] consonant ?
    – XouDo
    May 18 '21 at 9:06

[ʢ] (wikipedia) somewhat sounds like an R to my ears. You will certainly be understood, especially if the R is the only phoneme with a specific pronunciation of yours. As Pas un clue commented, [ʕ] (wikipedia) is slightly worse but still good enough as a substitute.

The letter R is likely the one with the widest range of realizations in French (including no phoneme at all). It has significantly evolved with time and there are still some regional variants too.

  • 1
    This Wikipedia page has the consonant from the question (ʕ). Though ʢ is closer to a French R than ʕ, the latter is still close enough to sound like it should be an R and nothing else when used in French. May 18 '21 at 11:54
  • @Pasunclue Tout à fait d'accord.
    – jlliagre
    May 18 '21 at 12:30

If you can manage (though that seems unlikely to me if the uvular fricative gives you that much trouble) an alveolar thrill, it would also be recognized as a "r"-sound. Rhotic consonants are fairly plastic.

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