1

There is a recording here of a good example word, "robar":

http://www.spanishdict.com/translate/robar

I think I understand the rolling or trilling of the initial "r" sound. I'm wondering about the final sound. Is it the same tongue position as the initial, but with a single "hit" (no rolling), or do I hear a rolling that is a little softer or more subtle, or something else entirely? Maybe it varies by region and accent.

3

In word-final position the rhotic is usually:

  • either a tap or a trill when followed by a consonant or a pause, as in amo[r ~ ɾ] paterno ('paternal love'), the former being more common;[43]
  • a tap when followed by a vowel-initial word, as in amo[ɾ] eterno ('eternal love').

When two rhotics occur consecutively across a word or prefix boundary, they result in one trill, so that da rocas ('s/he gives rocks') and dar rocas ('to give rocks') are either neutralized, or distinguished by a longer trill in the latter phrase.[44]

...

43, 44: Hualde, José Ignacio (2005), The Sounds of Spanish (p.182-183; p.184)

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3

The phoneme for a word-final r is /r/, which is generally trilled, that is [r], in most dialects, although it's also possible for an untrilled sound based on emphasis and other contextual factors.

Other variations by dialect may include phones such as [ʐ], [ɻ], [ʁ], [x] or [χ]. In others, it may be silent, or function as a consonant-lengthener, lengthening the following consonant (such that carne is [kan:e]). In still others, it may merge with the /l/ phoneme.

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