Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Our Planet Weekly - Week of September 27th, 2009

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Week of September 27th, 2009

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Brighter Idea Than the CFL May Soon Hit the Market
Reported by Jessica Rae Patton
Compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs), though far more energy efficient than their incandescent forbears, leave a lot to be desired.
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Grizzlies Make the List
Reported by Jessica Rae Patton
According to the Greater Yellowstone Coalition, "In the past two years grizzly mortality has risen alarmingly...[and] their future remains precarious."
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 Reporting by Jessica Rae Patton
Igniting Activists
It's the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day-Are You Ready to Get to Work?
Last year, Earth Day took some heat by online green scorekeepers, but this year-the celebration's 40th-it's reasserting its prominence. By Brita Belli
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Lessons from Etsy
Tips for Taking Your Eco-Ideas Online
Get crafty with home-biz tips from these eco-entrepreneurs. By Jessica A. Knoblauch
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Surviving the Downturn
Environmental Nonprofits Face a New Economic Reality
Environmental nonprofits are riding out the recession by joining forces-and office space. By Kristin Bender
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Week of 9/27/09
Dear EarthTalk: As I understand it, hair salons are pretty toxic enterprises on many counts. Are there any efforts underway to green up that industry?

Dear EarthTalk: Not long ago there were concerns about honey bees disappearing. Are the bees still disappearing, and if so do we know why and do we have a solution?

Go to this week's EarthTalk
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 Commentary Archive – News Archive

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Dr. Leon Eisenberg, Pioneer in Autism Studies, Dies at 87

Dr. Leon Eisenberg, who conducted some of the first rigorous studies of autism, attention deficit disorder and learning delays and became a prominent advocate for children struggling with disabilities, died on Sept. 15 at his home in Cambridge, Mass. He was 87.
Dr. Leon Eisenberg

The cause was prostate cancer, said his wife, Dr. Carola Eisenberg.

The field of child psychiatry was dominated by Freudian psychoanalysis when, in the late 1950s and 1960s, Dr. Eisenberg began conducting medical studies of children with developmental problems. Working at Johns Hopkins University with Dr. Leo Kanner, who first described autistic behavior, Dr. Eisenberg completed the first detailed, long-term study of children with autism, demonstrating among other things that language problems predicted its severity.

In a similar study among children who were developing normally, Dr. Eisenberg showed that reading difficulties early in school predicted behavior problems later on.

In the
1960s, he performed the first scientific drug trials in child psychiatry, testing stimulants like Dexedrine and Ritalin to soothe the behavior of children identified as “delinquent” or “hyperkinetic.” These studies, which became the basis for drug treatment of what is now called attention deficit disorder, ran counter to psychoanalytic theories on the most effective treatments.

“Leon took a very courageous stand and denounced the way psychiatry treated children, this whole system in which we had a few rich kids and their parents getting psychoanalysis five days a week and still not being cured,” said C. Keith Conners, a professor emeritus in the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Duke University. “No one even knew what a cure looked like. He had this conviction that nothing was being done for the bulk of children who needed help, and that we had very little scientific data to guide us.”

Dr. James Harris, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral science at Johns Hopkins University, said that Dr. Eisenberg was “the pivotal person in
20th-century child psychiatry who moved the field from simple descriptions of childhood disorders to actually looking at the science behind both the diagnosis and treatment.”

Leon Eisenberg was born in Philadelphia on Aug. 8, 1922, the eldest child of immigrants from Russia. He earned his undergraduate degree and, in 1946, his medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania, before taking an internship at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, where he developed an interest in psychiatry. He completed his psychiatric residency at Sheppard Pratt Hospital in Towson, Md.

After two years in the Army teaching physiology (Carey incorrectly said psychology), in 1952 he began a residency at Johns Hopkins and his collaboration with Dr. Kanner. In 1967, he took over as chief of psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital, where he continued to publish and, among many other projects, helped formulate and carry out affirmative action policies at Harvard Medical School.

In 1980, he established the medical school’s department of social medicine, with the aim of applying the tools of social science to improving access to and practice of medicine worldwide.
In addition to his wife, a co-founder of Physicians for Human Rights, Dr. Eisenberg is survived by two children from a previous marriage, Kathy and Mark Eisenberg; two stepchildren, Alan and Larry Guttmacher; two sisters, Essie Ellis and Libby Wickler; and six grandchildren.

For two days last week, Harvard lowered its flags to half-staff in honor of Dr. Eisenberg.
In his later years, Dr. Eisenberg became increasingly alarmed at trends in the field he helped establish, criticizing what he saw as a cozy relationships between drug makers and doctors and the expanding popularity of the attention deficit diagnosis.

The diagnosis “has morphed from a relative uncommon condition
40 years ago to one whose current prevalence is 8 percent,” he wrote. “Correspondingly, the prescription of stimulant drugs has gone up enormously. The reasons are not self-evident.”

Good law from tragic facts--Congress, the FDA, and preemption

Good law from tragic facts--Congress, the FDA, and preemption.
Annas GJ.
N Engl J Med. 2009 Sep 17;361(12):1206-11. No abstract available.
PMID: 19759383 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Related Articles

The New York Times heralded "A Win for Injured Patients,"1 while the Wall Street Journal said that the U.S. Supreme Court was "Pre-empting Drug Innovation."2 To the New York Times, the Court's decision in Wyeth v. Levine was "wise and surprising."1 To the Wall Street Journal, it was a "defeat for drug innovation and public health"2; the editorial expressed surprise because the Supreme Court had earlier ruled that Congress had preempted state civil lawsuits alleging device misbranding, and many persons thought that the Court had turned relentlessly pro-business and would therefore also rule that civil lawsuits alleging drug misbranding . . . [Full Text of this Article]
The Facts in Wyeth
The Law of Preemption
"Tragic Facts"
Preemption after Wyeth

Source Information
From the Department of Health Law, Bioethics, and Human Rights, Boston University School of Public Health, Boston.

  1. A win for injured patients. New York Times. March 5, 2009. 
  2. Pre-empting drug innovation. Wall Street Journal. March 5, 2009:A16.
  3. Rosen J. Supreme Court, Inc. New York Times Magazine. March 16, 2008.
  4. Wyeth v. Levine, 129 U.S. 1187 (2009).
  5. Curfman GD, Morrissey S, Drazen JM. Why doctors should worry about preemption. N Engl J Med 2008;359:1-3. [Free Full Text]
  6. Northern Securities v. United States, 193 U.S. 197, 400 (1904).
  7. Glantz LH, Annas GJ. The FDA, preemption, and the Supreme Court. N Engl J Med 2008;358:1883-1885. [Free Full Text]
  8. Kennedy D. Misbegotten preemptions. Science 2008;320:585-585. [Free Full Text]
  9. Warning signs. Nature 2008;452:254-254. [Medline]
  10. Committee on the Assessment of the US Drug-Safety System. The future of drug safety: promoting and protecting the health of the public. Washington, DC: National Academies Press, 2007.
  11. Psaty BM, Burke SP. Protecting the health of the public -- Institute of Medicine recommendations on drug safety. N Engl J Med 2006;355:1753-1755. [Free Full Text]
  12. Gilhooley M. Drug preemption and the need to reform the FDA consultation process. Am J Law Med 2008;34:539-561. [Web of Science][Medline]
  13. Wyeth v. Levine, 944 A.2d 179 (Vt. 2006).
  14. Riegel v. Medtronic, 128 U.S. 999 (2008).
  15. 71 C.F.R. § 3922 (2006).
  16. Geier v. American Honda Motor Co., 529 U.S. 861 (2000).
  17. Curfman GD, Morrissey S, Drazen JM. The Medical Device Safety Act of 2009. N Engl J Med 2009;360:1550-1551. [Free Full Text]
  18. Obama B. Memorandum for the heads of executive departments and agencies: preemption. Washington, DC: White House, May 20, 2009. (Accessed August 27, 2009, at http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/Presidential-Memorandum-Regarding-Preemption/.)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

"Whatever you do may (well) be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it (well)."

Whatever you do may (well) be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it (well).
 - Mahatma Gandhi

Sunday, September 13, 2009

09/13/2009 Harvard Crimson: 09/12/2009 "Is Eating Animals Ethical?" debate

Why not just email me at Maynard.Clark@GMail.com?

The Harvard Crimson's blog article on yesterday's "Is Eating Animals Ethical?" debate

PETA Debate: On Tolstoy and Bonzai Trees

There's a lot of irony here. Bullhorns. Resemblances. Soak it in.
Most Harvard students eat meat. And most Americans probably think of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals as an extremist group.
You wouldn’t have known it at the debate the Harvard College Vegetarian Society organized this afternoon between Wesley N. Hopkin ’11, a social studies concentrator and member of the Harvard Speech and Parliamentary Debate Society, and Bruce G. Friedrich, vice president of policy and government affairs for PETA.
The most heated dispute concerned our own Harvard University Dining Services. Hopkin praised HUDS: “They are moving in the right direction,” he said. “We can, generally speaking, eat meat or eat meat products with a relatively clear conscience even now.”
Friedrich responded sharply. He noted that HUDS buys eggs from cage-free farms, but said that is the only bright spot. “Eating meat in HUDS when they are doing nothing for farmed animals, and eating meat in the real world, in any restaurant around here,” he said, “for people here who said you do eat meat: that is unethical.” Get the skivvy on Hopkin’s response and more after the jump.
Throughout most of the debate, though a slim majority of the packed Science Center audience admitted to eating meat, Hopkin conceded Friedrich’s arguments about the immorality of being a carnivore in today’s world. PETA seemed downright reasonable.
Hopkin and questioners from the audience rarely presented compelling reasons to dispute the main thrust of Friedrich’s well-supported argument. The PETA leader argued that facts overwhelmingly show that eating meat is bad for the environment, for the world’s poorest, and for the conscious experiences of animals. Instead of disputing Friedrich’s figures, Hopkin and others raised abstract intellectual questions heard in Social Studies 10 and “Justice”: How can we compare animal pain with human pain? And can animals be a part of the social contract?
Friedrich’s argument, by contrast, was direct and sure of its moral clarity. Throughout the event, he peppered his arguments with colorful quotations from celebs and intellectuals alike:
From Paul McCartney: “It’s staggering when you think about it. Vegetarianism takes care of so many things in one shot: ecology, famine, cruelty.”
From Leo Tolstoy: “Vegetarianism is the root of humanitarianism.”
And from Cameron Diaz, on eating bacon: “It’s like eating my niece.”
Hopkin, the subtle debater, conceded that today’s factory farming practices are “unconscionable, and should not be permitted.” Instead, he wondered whether better farming techniques could ever create a world in which eating meat was ethical. He advocated an approach to animal rights that focused on the social contract instead of utilitarianism, and on leveraging consumer power to work for better farming practices instead of abstaining from eating meat.
During the question and answer session, Harvard’s lofty minds posed provocative questions:
Is it ethically permissible to eat the meat leftovers of your friend sitting across the table at dinner?
How anthropocentric is the social contract, after all?
Cuteness aside, can we kill kangaroos in the barren outback of Australia?
And: is it morally responsible to own a pet—or should you buy a bonzai tree?
Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons


  1. Jerry Friedman wrote:
    The social contract is anthropocentric. There is no justice in hurting those who are not indoctrinated into it.
    And leave the kangaroos alone.
    Sunday, September 13, 2009 at 3:37 pm | Permalink
  2. Jenny wrote:
    I was there! Bruce really knocked it out the park. Makes me want to reconsider my food choices.
    Sunday, September 13, 2009 at 3:58 pm | Permalink
  3. Glad to see people are coming around. Go vegans!
    Sunday, September 13, 2009 at 4:30 pm | Permalink
  4. I loved the event. Bruce showed a great deal of composure. Perhaps age (and experience) gave Bruce Friedrich the upper hand, but I like to think it was the justice and logic of his position:
    “No, it is NOT ethical to eat animals!”
    Sunday, September 13, 2009 at 10:13 pm | Permalink

Primary Prevention NOW !! [That's evidence-based health education for cost-savings]


The signature I sign in health care petitions is the signature that  includes the clarification that I would support universal inclusion that is truly caring for health, not merely managing disease, and that I believed we could afford to guarantee THAT kind of healthcare as a fundamental right IF we include primary prevention that is behaviorally-oriented and evidence-based.

Ensuring healthy vegetarian (read vegan) meal options (along with suitable health education that sees the benefits of plant-based diets) for students, we cannot deliver the experiential knowledge of what health-supporting eating actually is (and providing a health-aware future for those young citizens going forward).

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Rhotic and non-rhotic accents

English pronunciation can be divided into two main accent groups: A rhotic (pronounced /ˈroʊtɨk/) speaker pronounces the letter R in hard and water. A non-rhotic speaker does not pronounce it in hard, and may not in water, or may only pronounce it in water if the following word begins with a vowel. In other words, rhotic speakers pronounce /r/ in all positions, while non-rhotic speakers pronounce /r/ only if it is followed by a vowel sound in the same phrase or prosodic unit (see "linking and intrusive R").
In linguistic terms, non-rhotic accents are said to exclude the sound [r] from the syllable coda before a consonant or prosodic break. This is commonly if misleadingly referred to as "post-vocalic R".

Development of non-rhotic accents

On this map of England, the red areas are where the rural accents were rhotic as of the 1950s. Based on H. Orton et al., Survey of English dialects (196271). Note that some areas with partial rhoticity (for example parts of the East Riding of Yorkshire) are not shaded on this map.
Red areas are where English dialects of the late 20th century were rhotic. Based on P. Trudgill, The Dialects of England.
The earliest traces of a loss of /r/ in English are found in the environment before /s/ in spellings from the mid-15th century: the Oxford English Dictionary reports bace for earlier barse (today "bass", the fish) in 1440 and passel for parcel in 1468. In the 1630s, the word juggernaut is first attested, which represents the Sanskrit word jagannāth, meaning "lord of the universe". The English spelling uses the digraph er to represent a Hindi sound close to the English schwa. Loss of coda /r/ apparently became widespread in southern England during the 18th century; John Walker uses the spelling ar to indicate the broad A of aunt in his 1775 dictionary and reports that card is pronounced "caad" in 1791 (Labov, Ash, and Boberg 2006: 47).
Non-rhotic speakers pronounce an /r/ in red, and most pronounce it in torrid and watery, where R is followed by a vowel, but not in hard, nor in car or water when those words are said in isolation. However, in most non-rhotic accents, if a word ending in written "r" is followed closely by a word beginning with a vowel, the /r/ is pronounced—as in water ice. This phenomenon is referred to as "linking R". Many non-rhotic speakers also insert epenthetic /r/s between vowels when the first vowel is one that can occur before syllable-final r (drawring for drawing). This so-called "intrusive R" has been stigmatized, but even speakers of so-called Received Pronunciation frequently "intrude" an epenthetic /r/ at word boundaries, especially where one or both vowels is schwa; for example the idea of it becomes the idea-r-of it, Australia and New Zealand becomes Australia-r-and New Zealand. The typical alternative used by RP speakers is to insert a glottal stop where an intrusive R would otherwise be placed.[1]
For non-rhotic speakers, what was historically a vowel plus /r/ is now usually realized as a long vowel. So in Received Pronunciation (RP) and many other non-rhotic accents card, fern, born are pronounced [kɑːd], [fɜːn], [bɔːn] or something similar; the pronunciations vary from accent to accent. This length may be retained in phrases, so while car pronounced in isolation is [kɑː], car owner is [kɑːɹəʊnə]. But a final schwa usually remains short, so water in isolation is [wɔːtə]. In RP and similar accents the vowels /iː/ and /uː/ (or /ʊ/), when followed by r, become diphthongs ending in schwa, so near is [nɪə] and poor is [pʊə], though these have other realizations as well, including monophthongal ones; once again, the pronunciations vary from accent to accent. The same happens to diphthongs followed by R, though these may be considered to end in /ər/ in rhotic speech, and it is the /ər/ that reduces to schwa as usual in non-rhotic speech: tire said in isolation is [taɪə] and sour is [saʊə].[2] For some speakers, some long vowels alternate with a diphthong ending in schwa, so wear may be [wɛə] but wearing [wɛːɹiŋ].

Mergers characteristic of non-rhotic accents

Some phonetic mergers are characteristic of non-rhotic accents. These usually include one item that historically contained an R (lost in the non-rhotic accent), and one that never did so. The section below lists mergers in order of approximately decreasing prevalence.
  • panda-pander. In the terminology of Wells (1982) this consists of the merger of the lexical sets commA and lettER. It is found in all or nearly all non-rhotic accents,[3] and is even present in some accents that are in other respects rhotic, such as those of some speakers in Jamaica and the Bahamas.[3] Other possible homophones include area-airier, cheetah-cheater, cornea-cornier, formally-formerly, manna-manner/manor, rota-rotor, schema-schemer, tuba-tuber and pharma-farmer.
  • father-farther In Wells's terminology, this consists of the merger of the lexical sets PALM and START. It is found in the speech of the great majority of non-rhotic speakers, including those of England, Wales, the United States, the Caribbean, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. It may be absent in some non-rhotic speakers in the Bahamas.[3] Other possible homophones include alms-arms, balmy-barmy, lava-larva and spa-spar
  • pawn-porn. In Wells's terminology, this consists of the merger of the lexical sets THOUGHT and NORTH. It is found in the same accents as the father-farther merger described above, but is absent from the Bahamas and Guyana.[3] Other possible homophones include awe-or, caulk-cork, gnaw-nor, laud-lord, stalk-stork, talk-torque, taught-tort and thaw-Thor.
  • caught-court. In Wells's terminology, this consists of the merger of the lexical sets THOUGHT and FORCE. It is found in those non-rhotic accents containing the pawn-porn merger that have also undergone the horse-hoarse merger. These include the accents of Southern England, Wales, non-rhotic New York City speakers, Trinidad and the Southern hemisphere. In such accents a three-way merger awe-or-ore/oar results. Other possible homophones include bawd-board, flaw-floor, fought-fort, law-lore, paw-pour/pore, raw-roar, sauce-source, saw-sore/soar and Shaw-shore.
  • calve-carve. In Wells's terminology, this consists of the merger of the lexical sets BATH and START. It is found in some non-rhotic accents with broad A in words like "bath". It is general in southern England (excluding rhotic speakers), Trinidad, the Bahamas, and the Southern hemisphere. It is a possibility for Welsh, Eastern New England, Jamaican, and Guyanese speakers. Other possible homophones include aunt-aren't, fast-farced and pass-parse.
  • paw-poor. In Wells's terminology, this consists of the merger of the lexical sets THOUGHT and CURE It is found in those non-rhotic accents containing the caught-court merger that have also undergone the pour-poor merger. Wells lists it unequivocally only for the accent of Trinidad, but it is an option for non-rhotic speakers in England, Australia and New Zealand. Such speakers have a potential four-way merger taw-tor-tore-tour.[4]. Other possible homophones include Shaw-sure, tawny-tourney and yaw-your
  • batted-battered. This merger is present in non-rhotic acents which have undergone the weak vowel merger. Such accents include Australian, New Zealand, most South African speech, and some non-rhotic English speech. Other possible homophones include arches-archers, chatted-chattered, founded-foundered, matted-mattered, offices-officers, sauces-saucers, splendid-splendo(u)red and tended-tendered.
  • dough-door. In Wells's terminology, this consists of the merger of the lexical sets GOAT and FORCE. It may be found in some southern US non-rhotic speech, some speakers of African American Vernacular English, some speakers in Guyana and some Welsh speech.[3] Other possible homophones include coat-court, flow-floor, foe-four/fore, go-gore, hoe-whore, poach-porch, poke-pork, row-roar, show-shore, snow-snore, stow-store, toe-tore and woe-wore.
  • show-sure. In Wells's terminology, this consists of the merger of the lexical sets GOAT and CURE. It may be present in those speakers who have both the dough-door merger described above, and also the pour-poor merger. These include some southern US non-rhotic speakers, some speakers of African American Vernacular English,and some speakers in Guyana.[3] Other possible homophones include Poe-poor, toe-tour, and goad-gourd
  • often-orphan. In Wells's terminology, this consists of the merger of the lexical sets CLOTH and NORTH. It may be present in old-fashioned Eastern New England accents,[5], some New York speakers [6] and also in some speakers in Jamaica and Guyana. It was also present in some words in old-fashioned Received Pronunciation. Other possible homophones include moss-Morse and off-Orff.
  • God-guard. In Wells's terminology, this consists of the merger of the lexical sets LOT and START. It may be present in non-rhotic accents that have undergone the father-bother merger. These may include some New York accents,[7] some southern US accents,[8] and African American Vernacular English.[9]. Other possible homophones include cod-card, hot-heart, lodge-large, pot-part, potty-party, and shop-sharp.
  • shot-short. In Wells's terminology, this consists of the merger of the lexical sets LOT and NORTH. It may be present in some Eastern New England accents.[10][11]. Other possible homophones include cock-cork, cod-cord, con-corn, odder-order and stock-stork.
  • oil-earl. In Wells's terminology, this consists of the merger of the lexical sets CHOICE and NURSE preconsonantally. It was present in older New York accents, but became stigmatized and is sharply recessive in those born since the Second World War.[12]. Other possible homophones include adjoin-adjourn, Boyd-bird, coil-curl, oily-early and voice-verse
In some accents, syllabication may interact with rhoticity, resulting in homophones where nonrhotic accents have centering diphthongs. Possibilities include Korea-career[13], Shi'a-sheer, and Maia-mire,[14] while skua may be identical with the second syllable of obscure.[15]

Distribution of rhotic and non-rhotic accents

Examples of rhotic accents are: Mid Ulster English, Canadian English and General American. Non-rhotic accents include Received Pronunciation, New Zealand, Australian, South African and Estuary English.
Final post-vocalic /r/ in farmer in English rural dialects of the 1950s[16]
GREEN - [ə] (non-rhotic)
YELLOW - [əʴ] (alveolar)
ORANGE - [əʵ] (retroflex)
PINK - [əʵː] (& long)
BLUE - [əʶ] (uvular)
VIOLET - [ɔʶ] (back & rounded)
Most speakers of most of North American English are rhotic, as are speakers from Barbados, Scotland and most of Ireland.
In England, rhotic accents are found in the West Country (south and the west of a line from near Shrewsbury to around Portsmouth), the Corby area, most of Lancashire (north and east of the centre of Manchester), some parts of Yorkshire and Lincolnshire and in the areas that border Scotland. The prestige form, however, exerts a steady pressure towards non-rhoticity. Thus the urban speech of, say, Bristol or Southampton is more accurately described as variably rhotic, the degree of rhoticity being reduced as one moves up the class and formality scales.[17]
Most speakers of Indian English have a rhotic accent.[18] Other areas with rhotic accents include Otago and Southland in the far south of New Zealand's South Island, where a Scottish influence is apparent.
Areas with non-rhotic accents include Australia, most of the Caribbean, most of England (including Received Pronunciation speakers), most of New Zealand, Wales, and Singapore.
Canada is entirely rhotic except for small isolated areas in southwestern New Brunswick, parts of Newfoundland, and Lunenburg and Shelburne Counties, Nova Scotia.
In the United States, much of the South was once non-rhotic, but in recent decades non-rhotic speech has declined. Today, non-rhoticity in Southern American English is found primarily among older speakers, and only in some areas such as New Orleans (where it is known as the Yat dialect), southern Alabama, Savannah, Georgia, and Norfolk, Virginia. [19] Parts of New England, especially Boston, are non-rhotic as well as New York City and surrounding areas. The case of New York is especially interesting because of a classic study in sociolinguistics by William Labov showing that the non-rhotic accent is associated with older and middle- to lower-class speakers, and is being replaced by the rhotic accent. African American Vernacular English (AAVE) is largely non-rhotic.
There are a few accents of Southern American English where intervocalic /r/ is deleted before an unstressed syllable and at the end of a word even when the following word begins with a vowel. In such accents, pronunciations like [kæəlaːnə] for Carolina and [bɛːʌp] for "bear up" are heard.[20] These pronunciations also occur in AAVE.[21]
In Asia, India[18] and the Philippines have rhotic dialects. In the case of the Philippines, this may be explained because the English that is spoken there is heavily influenced by the American dialect. In addition, many East Asians (in China, Japan, and Korea) who have a good command of English generally have rhotic accents because of the influence of American English.

Similar phenomena in other languages

This article contains Chinese text. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Chinese characters. The rhotic consonant is dropped or vocalized under similar conditions in other Germanic languages, notably German, Danish and some dialects of southern Sweden (possibly because of its proximity to Denmark). In most varieties of German, /r/ in the syllable coda is frequently realized as a vowel or a semivowel, [ɐ] or [ɐ̯], especially in the unstressed ending -er and after long vowels: for example sehr [zeːɐ̯], besser [ˈbɛsɐ]. Similarly, Danish /r/ after a vowel is, unless preceded by a stressed vowel, either pronounced [ɐ̯] (mor "mother" [moɐ̯ˀ], næring "nourishment" [ˈnɛɐ̯eŋ]) or merged with the preceding vowel while usually influencing its vowel quality (/a(ː)r/ and /ɔːr/ or /ɔr/ are realised as long vowels [aː] and [ɒː], and /ər/, /rə/ and /rər/ are all pronounced [ɐ]) (løber "runner" [ˈløːb̥ɐ], Søren Kierkegaard (personal name) [ˌsœːɐn ˈkʰiɐ̯ɡ̊əˌɡ̊ɒːˀ]).
Among the Turkic languages, Uyghur displays more or less the same feature, as syllable-final /r/ is dropped, while the preceding vowel is lengthened: for example Uyghurlar [ʔʊɪˈʁʊːlaː]Uyghurs’. The /r/ may, however, sometimes be pronounced in unusually "careful" or "pedantic" speech; in such cases, it is often mistakenly inserted after long vowels even when there is no phonemic /r/ there.
In standard Khmer the final /r/ is unpronounced. If an /r/ occurs as the second consonant of a cluster in a minor syllable, it is also unpronounced. The informal speech of Phnom Penh has gone a step further, dropping the /r/ when it occurs as the second consonant of a cluster in a major syllable while leaving behind a dipping tone. When an /r/ occurs as the initial of a syllable, it becomes uvular in contrasts to the trilled /r/ in standard speech.
Similarly in Yaqui, an indigenous language of northern Mexico, intervocalic or syllable-final /r/ is often dropped with lengthening of the previous vowel: pariseo becomes [paːˈseo], sewaro becomes [sewajo].
In some dialects of Brazilian Portuguese, word-final /r/ is unpronounced or becomes simply an aspiration (mostly in the interior of Minas Gerais, São Paulo, Paraná and Mato Grosso do Sul states), while in Thai, pre-consonantal /r/ is unpronounced.
Andalusian Spanish is the only Spanish dialect with an unpronounced word-final /r/.[citation needed]
In Mandarin, the variety of Chinese that forms the basis of the national language, coda [ɻ] is only pronounced in some areas, including Beijing, while in others it tends to be silent. 二 "two", for instance, is pronounced [ɑ̂ɻ] in rhotic areas only.

Effect on spelling

This article contains Chinese text. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Chinese characters.
This article contains Indic text. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks or boxes, misplaced vowels or missing conjuncts instead of Indic text.
Spellings based on non-rhotic pronunciation of dialectal or foreign words can result in mispronunciations if read by rhotic speakers. In addition to juggernaut mentioned above, the following are found:
  • "Er", to indicate a filled pause, as a British spelling of what Americans would render "uh".
  • The Korean family name usually written "Park" in English.
  • The game Parcheesi.
  • British English slang words:
    • "char" for "cha" from the Mandarin Chinese pronunciation of 茶 (= "tea" (the drink))
    • "nark" (= "informer") from Romany "nāk" (= "nose").
  • In Rudyard Kipling's books:
    • "dorg" instead of "dawg" for a drawled pronunciation of "dog".
    • Hindu god name Kama misspelled as "Karma" (which refers to a concept in several Asian religions, not a god).
    • Hindustani कागज़ "kāgaz" (= "paper") spelled as "kargaz".
  • "Burma" and "Myanmar" for Burmese [bəmà] and [mjàmmà].
  • The development of "ass" (buttocks) as a variant of arse (later standardized as US usage).

See also


  1. ^ Wells, Accents of English, 1:224.
  2. ^ New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary
  3. ^ a b c d e f Wells (1982)
  4. ^ Wells, p. 287
  5. ^ Wells, p. 524
  6. ^ Wells (1982), p. 503
  7. ^ Wells (1982), p. 504
  8. ^ Wells (1982), p. 544
  9. ^ Wells (1982), p. 577
  10. ^ Wells, p. 520
  11. ^ Dillard, Joey Lee (1980). Perspectives on American English
    . The Hague; New York: Walter de Gruyter. p. 53. ISBN 9027933677. http://books.google.com/books?id=6zPgjduXBcQC
  12. ^ Wells (1982), pp. 508-509
  13. ^ Wells (1982), p. 225
  14. ^ Upton, Clive; Eben Upton (2004). Oxford rhyming dictionary. Oxford University Press. p. 59. ISBN 0192801155. 
  15. ^ Upton, Clive; Eben Upton (2004). Oxford rhyming dictionary. Oxford University Press. p. 60. ISBN 0192801155. 
  16. ^ Wakelyn, Martin: "Rural dialects in England", in: Trudgill, Peter (1984): Language in the British Isles, p.77
  17. ^ Trudgill, Peter (1984). Language in the British Isles. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0521284090, 9780521284097. 
  18. ^ a b Wells, J. C. (1982). Accents of English 3: Beyond the British Isles. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. p. 629. ISBN 0521285410. 
  19. ^ Labov, Ash, and Boberg, 2006: pp. 4748.
  20. ^ Harris 2006: pp. 25.
  21. ^ Pollock et al., 1998.