BURR

All Sources -
Updated Media sources (1) About encyclopedia.com content Print Topic Share Topic
views updated

BURR. An informal term for a pronunciation of r that is perceived as ‘rough’, like a burr (a flower head that sticks to one's clothes), especially the uvular trill once widespread in northeast England (the Durham/Northumbrian/Northumberland burr) and southeast Scotland (the Berwick/Berwickshire burr). This ‘Parisian’ r is prestigious in French (r grasseyé: GUTTURAL r) but often stigmatized in English, speech therapists traditionally treating it as a defect. Commentators on strong r-pronunciation do not, however, always distinguish uvular from alveolar; defining burr in the OED (1880s), James A. H. Murray noted: ‘Writers ignorant of phonology often confuse the Northumberland burr with the entirely different Scotch r, which is a lingual trill.’ The term is also used for an accent in which a burr is prominent: ‘ Miss Keith spoke with a Scotch burr’ ( Somerset Maugham, The Razor's Edge, 1967). See ACCENT, GEORDIE, NEW ZEALAND ENGLISH, RHOTACISM, R-SOUNDS, WEST COUNTRY.

views updated

burr / bər/ • n. 1. [in sing.] a rough sounding of the sound r, esp. with a uvular trill (a "French r") as in certain Northern England accents. ∎  (loosely) a regional accent charcterized by such a trill: a soft Scottish burr. 2. (also bur) a rough edge or ridge left on an object (esp. of metal) by the action of a tool or machine. 3. (also bur) a small rotary cutting tool with a shaped end, used chiefly in woodworking, medicine, and dentistry. 4. variant spelling of bur.

views updated

burr •à deux, agent provocateur, astir, auteur, aver, bestir, blur, bon viveur, burr, Chandigarh, coiffeur, concur, confer, connoisseur, cordon-bleu, cri de cœur, cur, danseur, Darfur, defer, demur, de rigueur, deter, entrepreneur, er, err, farceur, faute de mieux, fir, flâneur, Fleur, force majeure, fur, hauteur, her, infer, inter, jongleur, Kerr, littérateur, longueur, masseur, Monseigneur, monsieur, Montesquieu, Montreux, murre, myrrh, occur, pas de deux, Pasteur, per, pisteur, poseur, pot-au-feu, prefer, prie-dieu, pudeur, purr, raconteur, rapporteur, refer, répétiteur, restaurateur, saboteur, sabreur, seigneur, Sher, shirr, sir, skirr, slur, souteneur, spur, stir, tant mieux, transfer, Ur, vieux jeu, voyageur, voyeur, were, whirr

views updated

burr2 uvular pronunciation of r, characteristic of Northumberland XVIII; rough whirring sound XIX. prob. imit., but perh transf. application of BUR to a ‘rough’ sound.

views updated

burr (ber) n. see bur.

More From Encyclopedia.com


MORE ON THIS TOPIC