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I've recently started studying Spanish (Latin American) with Rosetta Stone. I think I'm doing trilled r's right but I'm not sure if I'm doing single r's right. Are they supposed to have a single trill, or no trill? Please help me learn how to pronounce a single r.

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The pronunciation of the r can vary regionally, and by the specific word. In some cases, it's almost an English d sound, in others it's closer to an English r. And there are times when it is trilled, depending on its location in the word. Your best bet to pick up the subtleties will probably be to listen to some native speakers. If you don't have this option in person, perhaps on YouTube. –  Flimzy Dec 13 '12 at 8:05
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@Flimzy English /d/ or /r/? Isn't it generally an alveolar tap? I'm talking about a*r*ticula*r*, not "el *r*atón *r*oyó". –  Artefacto Dec 13 '12 at 11:08
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6 Answers

Encontré algunos videos en Youtube que explica los detalles de la pronunciación de la letra R, con ejemplos:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sz8tNXuX0nA

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bYUMz2vY3c8

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Thanks, that's very helpful. –  Dan Dec 13 '12 at 20:40
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@Dan, welcome to the StackExchange network, I'm glad to help, if my answer was helpful, maybe you want to up-vote it and maybe accept it as the answer to your question. –  jachguate Dec 13 '12 at 21:06
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I think is very similar to the english 'r' but you have to put your tongue closer to the teeth. You can also try to understand this:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alveolar_tap

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It's very important the tongue briefly touches the alveolar ridge. In Portuguese, we have the same sound and the easiest way to tell an English accent is the way the intervocalic -r- is incorrectly pronounced. The sound is close to the alveolar trill (the other rhotic sound in Spanish), but the tongue only vibrates a single cycle. –  Artefacto Dec 17 '12 at 13:25
    
+1 for the link. Very nice –  joseph4tw Dec 17 '12 at 16:27
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In my experience (4 years study of Castilian Spanish, 7 years of Latin Spanish conversations [mostly Colombian style]), for the Latin style Spanish at least, the single trill is what I use and everyone understands it well and I haven't had anyone correct me yet.

It is similar to the English 'r' only in the constant sound the 'r' produces. The English 'r' starts with the lips together and pointing out while pulling them back and widening them, while a single trill is more like a single roll of the tongue from top to bottom while emitting a very quick English 'r' type of sound.

Also, while you don't mention it, I think it's worthwhile pointing out that a single 'r' at the beginning of a word is rolled like a double 'rr' (alveolar trill). However, I find that a single 'r' at the end of a word is like a whispering trill with a slight English 'r' sound. In study, they might make you have the 'r' at the end be just like a strong double 'rr', but in actual conversation with Latin people you will probably never hear it emphasized like that (at least I haven't yet).

I hope that makes sense.

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The closest sound in American English is a soft d or t. Think about really enunciating a strong d or t and then do the opposite. In both sounds your tongue taps the roof of your mouth. Whereas the tongue touches quite close to your teeth for a t sound, try moving it back towards the middle of the roof of your mouth. Tap your tongue softly as you make the sound, touching with most of the front of your tongue, not just the tip.

It's not too dissimilar to the soft d and t sounds in the following American English words:

The tt in gotta or a lotta
The t in water
The dd in muddy
The d in modern

Try saying the following Spanish words with this in mind, keeping the r's (d's) soft:

Say cara like cahdah
Say para like pahdah
Say oro like ohdoh

That's always worked really well for me. Hope that helps!

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Say "pot of tea" out loud. Gradually say it quicker and quicker, maintaining pronunciation as best as possible. You will notice that the 't' from 'pot' and sounds less and less like a 't' and more like the Spanish single 'r'.

Actually, as you say it faster and faster, it sounds more and more like the Spanish "para ti" ("for you").

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Thanks for making me sound crazy as I walk around work. –  McArthey Dec 19 '12 at 21:25
    
Ha it had the same effect for me. And still, no one brought me even a CUP of tea.... –  Matt Robertson Dec 19 '12 at 22:17
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This is an absolutely fabulous site that not only explains the various elements of the mouth (articulatory anatomy) and how they contribute to speech, but also provides animations, audio and video. It is available in English, German, and Spanish.
It's a fun site to spend some time browsing but you will need Flash to use it.

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Single "r" (soft) is under "vibrantes", [ɾ], the first phonema of the link. –  JoulSauron Dec 19 '12 at 20:57
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