2 MARCH 1929, Page 17


- [To the Editor of the SPECTATOR.]

wonder whether your correspondent (Spectator, February 28rd) has ever asked himself why the usus loquendi is gradually introducing the slight trill that we symbolize by the letter r between the vowel a and a following vowel. It is doubtless done, quite unconsciously, for the sake of euphony (cf. the euphonic t or 1 in French), in order to avoid the hiatus that is so difficult and unnatural in flowing speech.

Without the euphonic r the a in flowing speech disappears by crasis, and the examples given become " Indi-and China," " phenomen-of science," " Olivi-I love you," &c. These locutions are quite common among " educated " people," and I think it will be agreed that they constitute a greater defile- ment of English than the interpolation of the liquid. In any case, we must bow to the usus loquendi, for, after all, it is the foundation of grammar, and it is as idle to fight against it as to fight' against the irresistible sea.

. On the other hand, the insertion of r in " drawring" is in a different category, and is an undoubted solecism. The liquid here is not required fcir euphony ; the so, being consonantal, suffices for syllabification ; and there is no danger of hiatus or of crasis. - do not think, however, that this solecism is usus loquendi : it is probably not more common among the " uneducated " than its converse "rawing " for " roaring " is among the educated."

1 have a suspicion that your correspondent suffers from what may be called the " R-phobia," which seems to be a very common disease among the " eduCated." " Rawing " for " roaring " is an extreme symptom of it. R in English is sounded as a slight roll Or trill on following vowel, whether that vowel occur in the same word Or the next. Take the • phrase " clear of." How frequently we hear °people who Should know better pronounce it " clea-of "—in fluent speech " cle-of "—instead of " cleci-rcif." Why this insensate hatred or the =offending liquid Y=I am, Sir, &c., • Royal House, Dalston, Cumberland. J. C. 'GRAHAM.