It seems like you might be producing a voiceless _retroflex_ trill? It
is sort of like pushing your tongue forward from its curled position
by a puff of air (with maybe some frication in the throat - don't
quote me, I'm not a phonetician). Otherwise it's probably a voiceless
alveolar or voiceless uvular trill.

I've always been able to roll an alveolar trill, although I find it
much easier to just tap/flap (I still don't know the difference
between taps and flaps). I've had a lot of trouble with the uvular
trill; for the first few years of learning French I think I pronounced
it just as a voiced velar fricative that assimilated in voicing to
surrounding consonants. Even now it comes and goes. Sometimes in
isolation I can produce it easily, other times (like now, as I sit in
front of my computer making weird noises) it doesn't come at all. But
when I speak it I'm pretty sure I just get a uvular fricative.

The IPA signs for voiceless trills are just the signs for normal
trills with the voiceless diacritic: /r̊ ʀ̊/. I hope that comes
through, it's an <r> and a small capital <R> with empty rings above.
Can you flap? I find it easier than trilling and when I'm lazy I just
use the flap everywhere there should be trills. The only advice for
trilling, which you've probably heard already, is to prolong a flap.


On 7/17/13, H. S. Teoh <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> I've always wanted to pronounce trills, and for many years I tried to
> learn it with all kinds of techniques and suggestions from people, but
> all to no avail.  Up until about a week or two ago, the only trill I've
> ever been able to produce is the bilabial trill.
> But about a week or so ago, while trying to figure out how exactly
> _ehrlu_ should be pronounced in my new alien conlang (something like
> /Exrlu/ where the /r/ is some kind of trill), I somehow accidentally
> stumbled upon a guttural, voiceless trill of some sort, which I shall
> refer to henceforth as /xr/. I still can't consistently produce it, but
> the combination [Exr] somehow gets my vocal apparatus in (or near) the
> state required for trilling, so once in a while a trill comes out.
> I still have no idea what exactly /xr/ is. It is voiceless, and involves
> some rather guttural sounds. I *think* it's an uvular trill, but it may
> be a mixture of uvular + alveolar trill. Or maybe it's [x] followed by a
> voiceless [r]?  How do you tell the difference between an uvular trill
> and an alveolar trill?  I know that in theory [R\] is trilling the uvula
> whereas [r] is trilling the tip of the tongue, but the way I'm
> pronouncing /xr/ seems like some kind of hybrid between the two. The tip
> of my tongue is actually pulled quite far back in the mouth, almost
> palatal -- I can't get any trill at all if I move my tongue any farther
> forwards. The vibration starts out somewhere far back in my throat, and
> sometimes moves forward to the tip of the tongue.
> Do y'all have trouble pronouncing trills? And if not, what kind of
> trill(s) can you pronounce, and how?
> After accidentally discovering /xr/ (whatever it is), I managed after
> much effort to shift things about to be able to say /Er:/ with what I
> believe is an alveolar trill. But I still have trouble consistently
> producing this sound, and I still can't pronounce it with other sounds
> (or at least, only with great difficulty).  The only way I manage to
> trill my /r/ is by pulling my tongue quite far back in the mouth, with
> the tip of my tongue curled up to an almost vertical position; this is a
> rather inconvenient position to be combined with many vowels/consonants.
> Because of this, I'm a bit unsure whether it's a real *alveolar* trill,
> and not a dorsal palatal trill or something (is there such a thing?).
> Any tips/ideas? :)
> Also, why aren't there IPA symbols for voiced/voiceless trills? I can
> clearly pronounce both voiced and voiceless variants of /r/, and /xr/,
> whatever it is, is clearly voiceless. But AFAICT, the only IPA symbols
> for trills are [r] and [R\]?
> T
> --
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