A Shibboleth upon Their Tongues: Early English /r/ Revisited
This article discusses the pronunciation of the rhotic phoneme /r/ in early English. The traditional belief that the dominant pronunciation in Old and Middle English was [r] (an apical trill) is still supported by some authors, but there is growing consensus that there was a fairly wide range of /r/ realisations already in early Germanic, and that the pronunciation of /r/ in Old English was about as variable as it is in present-day English. The article defends this view and goes a step further, suggesting that the modern distribution of variant rhotic pronunciations in British English reflects to some extent the distribution of very similar sounds in Old English.
Rhotic, Old English, Dialects, Pronunciation
Studia Anglica Posnaniensia 42, 2006, pp. 63-76