According to the Wikipedia article below, the double r is pronounced without the Alveolar trill in some parts of Spain. However after a lot of searching I haven´t been able to find any more info on this. Can anyone help?

"The double-R phoneme is spelled "rr" between vowels and "r" word-initially or following "l", "n", or "s". In most varieties it is pronounced as an alveolar trill, and that is considered the prestige pronunciation. Two notable variants occur, however, one sibilant and the other velar or uvular. The pronunciation of the phoneme as a voiced strident (or sibilant) apical fricative is common in New Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica; highland areas of Colombia, Ecuador, Bolivia, and Chile; western and northern Argentina, and Paraguay.[10] Some linguists have attempted to explain the assibilated "rr" as a result of influence from Native American languages, and it is true that in the Andean regions mentioned an important part of the population is bilingual in Spanish and one or another indigenous language. Nonetheless, other researchers have pointed out that sibilant "rr" in the Americas may not be an autonomous innovation, but rather a pronunciation that originated in some northern Spanish dialects and then was exported to the Americas. Spanish dialects spoken in the Basque Country, Navarre, la Rioja, and northern Aragon (regions that contributed substantially to Spanish-American colonization) show the fricative or postalveolar variant for "rr" (especially for the word-initial "rr" sound, as in Roma or rey)." From: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spanish_dialects_and_varieties#.22R.22_sounds

I´ve been living in Bolivia for a while and have noticed that many people pronounce the double r as a zh sound like in the English word measure. Is this true as well for these parts of Northern Spain that the article talks about? Gracias.

  • The English word measure has no zh sound.
    – c.p.
    Mar 30, 2015 at 6:30

2 Answers 2


This linguistic process is called assibilation, and the sound you're referring to is called voiced retroflex sibilant, phonetically transcribed as [ʐ]. As you mentioned, it might sound similar to [ʒ] (the s in measure), however, be sure not to confuse them. Take for instance

  • lluvia [ʒuβ̞ja], rubia [ʐuβ̞ja]
  • sello [seʒo], cerro [seʐo]
  • llama [ʒama], rama [ʐama]

I'm a native Spanish speaker from Mexico. In most cases, people use either [r] or [ʐ], with [r] being vastly more typical I'd say. Some people use both, myself included. I can tell you though that I've never heard of anyone confusing [ʒ] with [r] or [ʐ].

Interesting links (in Spanish):

  • http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transcripci%C3%B3n_fon%C3%A9tica_del_espa%C3%B1ol_con_el_AFI#cite_note-r-13
  • http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ye%C3%ADsmo
  • http://www.uiowa.edu/~acadtech/phonetics/spanish/spanish.html
  • http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Espa%C3%B1ol_andino

No, it's not. I live in Colombia and that way to pronounce is not common here, you can hear that on Peru and Bolivia, but i'm sure you won't hear it anywhere else.

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