I realized that I am Rhotacistic only after I entered my teenage, while reciting aloud in my Hindi class. My classmates made fun of me, they laughed on my inability to pronounce the letter ‘r’ properly. I never had an idea about my linguistic problem. No one ever had noticed it or told me about it. I was ashamed of not being able to do what everyone else of my age, didn’t even consider to be a difficult thing.
Rhotacism is basically the difficulty in pronouncing ‘r’. Considered to be one of the most difficult one, a rhotic sound is probably the last one that a child learns. There can be different forms of Rhotacism. Most common one is pronouncing ‘r’ as ‘w’ and some like me make a sound that technically is called as Alveolar trill. While speaking sometimes, I also blend the sound of ‘r’ and ‘w’.
Play this clip to listen what Alveolar trill sounds like.
Rhotacism is nothing to be ashamed about. It’s common among so many people. If you have watched Looney Tunes you would recall the famous Rhotacistic song of Elmer Fudd in the episode named ‘The wacky wabbit’.
I read this short article which says- “If you have Rhotacism, then you need not to be alarmed- You are in a good company!” There are celebrities who have this too.
There are ways through which one can get rid of Rhotacism (If any of the ways doesn’t work on you, stop giving it a damn. It’s not a sin to be not able to pronounce a single letter). However, if it matters a lot to you then a speech therapist could be of great help.
How did I get over it? I actually haven’t yet. But I have improved in pronouncing ‘r’. I had to sing for a contest and every time I found myself getting stuck with a single line of the song full of letter ‘r’. So, I decided to be more careful while talking. And gradually, with the help of a few friends I made it quite insignificant but it still persists in a little proportion.
What a pity it is to see people making fun of those who have Rhotacism or any other linguistic disorders just because they haven’t got any. We are all imperfect in one or the other way. And acceptance is one of the basic requirements of being human.