• Think I can do uvular trill
  • Trying to do alveolar trill
  • Can't distinguish what sounds right and what feels right, so having trouble using these metrics as useful feedback to determine progress
  • How do I test if I'm actually doing an alveolar trill?


I'm sure there's countless posts about pronouncing the rolled R or alveolar trill, and I've watched many videos and read much advice – but I haven't found anything specifically providing a test to help one determine if they are indeed correctly performing the alveolar trill. There's advice on how to do it, but I can't find any advice on how to evaluate success.

In my particular case, it would be immensely helpful to have a mechanism by which to differentiate whether I'm performing an uvular trill or indeed actually performing an alveolar trill, which is my goal. I've listened to audio and can't hear whether the sounds I'm making are correct or not based on comparison with correct audio of the alveolar trill, as it sounds like it could be correct but just needs improvement or perhaps it's subtly wrong; and if I can't tell the difference this doesn't necessarily mean it is indeed correct, since I can do it consciously wrong as an uvular trill and similarly not hear a difference I'd be able to distinguish as uvular if I hadn't known I was doing an uvular trill. In terms of sensation, the consciously performed uvular trill has a distinct feeling flapping/vibrating in the back of my throat, kind of like gargling. When I attempt the alveolar trill, I keep my tongue loose and I can feel it vibrating in the location I believe is correct based on my research, and I hear a trill-esque sound, but I can't tell if it's the same sound as from the uvular trill, perhaps somewhat muffled by my tongue, and that the new sensation is of my tongue vibrating a bit from the air – and also making a slight S sound in the process – but such that it's merely coincident with the old source of the trill and not actually a new source of the trill noise – that is, I'm just doing an uvular trill again but with my tongue in a different place (which I know I can do by rigidly placing my tongue against the roof of my mouth and doing the uvular trill).

Is there some test I could perform to definitely determine if I'm performing an alveolar trill correctly, short of installing a camera in my mouth?

  • 1
    Note that if you wonder which are the questions @walen is mentioning, you can hover the link and its title will show. Feb 23 '18 at 9:03
  • 4
    I'm voting to close because this is only tangentially related to Spanish and it should be on Linguistics or Language Learning. Feb 23 '18 at 16:24
  • I understand that you want a verbal description of how to self-assess. But may I ask you to do me a favor, and post here a recording of your various versions? If the question gets closed you can post to Chat (La Tertulia). Just make sure to notify me. (@aparente001). Maybe the process of providing feedback to you will help me figure out the answer to what you asked. Feb 23 '18 at 19:14
  • @aparente001 I wasn't sure how to share audio here but hopefully a share link to a dropbox folder with some recordings works: dropbox.com/sh/dcde4t9ipqawidj/AABBeatWWuPwmKugff8VILcza?dl=0
    – MusedPony
    Feb 23 '18 at 22:12
  • Sorry if it's not perfectly relevant, I seem to have difficulty as a noob getting the taxonomy of stack exchanges exactly aligned with my concern in a way that's agreed by standard...
    – MusedPony
    Feb 23 '18 at 22:25

go to google translate, write a word in Spanish starting with R or a word with RR

examples : Raton, Perro,

hear the sound, say it recording yourself.

you can't have a similar sound, it has to be the same sound,

in general Spanish does not use Uvular pronunciation.

how to know you are doing it correctly? you will feel that you are talking with the front of your mouth and not the back of your mouth.

there's no other mechanism than hearing yourself.

you should also practice simple Syllables, mostly the alveolar.




I listened to your recordings, and looked up what the terms mean -- I read at https://forum.wordreference.com/threads/pronunciation-r-alveolar-trill-vs-uvular-trill.1227804/ that uvular is in the back, like in French and German and alveolar is in the front, like in Spanish. I will now fearlessly make a stab at an answer. I've come up with two questions to ask yourself:

  1. When you pronounce the RR in a word, does it sound like someone talking Spanish, or German?

  2. Can you relax your jaw and trill steadily for at least four seconds? (Without any fading in and out.)

Bonus extra

Suggestion: can you try the following?

  • relax your jaw -- i.e. let the lower jaw drop down a little lower (let it go slack)
  • let your tongue come forward toward the back of the teeth
  • in between rolls, take a nice relaxed, slow breath -- really take your time
  • practice the RR in the context of vowels, especially the A, since it involves dropping the lower jaw: barra

I made an interesting observation when I experimented with seeing for how many seconds I could keep up the trill. I tried reducing the amount of air flowing out of my mouth while trilling. Of course, the less air coming out, the longer I could keep it going. But here's the interesting part. If I reduced the air too much, the trill sputtered out like an outboard motor running out of gas. If I increased the air I was able to rekindle the trill.

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