Publishing Partner: Cambridge University Press CUP Extra Publisher Login

New from Cambridge University Press!


Revitalizing Endangered Languages

Edited by Justyna Olko & Julia Sallabank

Revitalizing Endangered Languages "This guidebook provides ideas and strategies, as well as some background, to help with the effective revitalization of endangered languages. It covers a broad scope of themes including effective planning, benefits, wellbeing, economic aspects, attitudes and ideologies."

We Have a New Site!

With the help of your donations we have been making good progress on designing and launching our new website! Check it out at!
***We are still in our beta stages for the new site--if you have any feedback, be sure to let us know at***

Academic Paper

Title: A history of hyper-rhoticity in English
Author: Derek Britton
Institution: University of Edinburgh
Linguistic Field: Historical Linguistics; Phonology
Subject Language: English
Abstract: This article investigates the history of what Wells (1982), in his account of present-day accents of English, calls ‘hyper-rhoticity’. That is, the appearance, in rhotic accents, of epenthetic, unetymological rhyme-/r/, usually taking the form of /r/-colouring in modern accents. It is attested most commonly in final unstressed syllables, but may also occur in syllable rhymes after a long, stressed vowel. The article traces the history of this phenomenon and attempts to show that Early Modern English data which have hitherto been interpreted as evidence for loss of /r/ in such contexts are better attributed to hyper-rhoticity. It is also argued here, in an addendum, that not to accept claims for early /r/-loss in unstressed syllables has wider implications for the history of English phonology. That is, to reject theories of loss of /r/ in final unstressed syllables demands rejection of the notion of early articulatory weakening of /r/ in this context, which has been seen as a prelude to the spread of weakening to other contexts, leading ultimately to loss of rhoticity.


This article appears IN English Language and Linguistics Vol. 11, Issue 3.

Return to TOC.

Add a new paper
Return to Academic Papers main page
Return to Directory of Linguists main page