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I have no difficulty pronouncing the /r/ at the beginning of a word( like red, rock,...). And, i feel comfortable pronouncing the /r/ when it ends a word or a sentence( like actor, waiter,...). But, in case of words like "harmonic", "superman"; if I pronounce the /r/, I feel like it's a bit slow, and difficult.

So, can I just drop that /r/ in the middle of a word; and do natives do that ?

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    Some dialects do seem to render "superman" more like "supaman", but this is not universal.
    – Deolater
    Feb 9, 2017 at 22:57
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    A Bostonian accent famously drops "R's" "pak the cah in Havahd yahd" ("park the car in Harvard Yard").
    – Peter
    Feb 9, 2017 at 23:27
  • Just as a general rule, if you can't pronounce a sound in English because it's difficult, that probably means you should work harder to learn how to say it, not avoid it, because avoiding it means you'll always sound like a foreigner!
    – stangdon
    Feb 10, 2017 at 1:18

1 Answer 1

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"harmonic" and "superman" have /r/ in standard American English

Most American English speakers have a "rhotic" accent, which means they do not generally drop "r" in any position. (A minority of American English speakers have a non-rhotic accent, where the consonant /r/ does not occur before another consonant or at the end of a word before a pause, but this feature generally only occurs in specific regions. Speakers from certain regions may have even more complicated "mixed" accents that show sporadic and unpredictable use of rhotic and non-rhotic pronunciations due to dialect mixing.)

Dropping the "r" in "harmonic" and "superman" would not be standard in a rhotic accent.

advanced listener's note: rhotic speakers do sometimes drop "r"s in other words

I would not recommend trying to drop the /r/ in any words if you are a learner aiming to speak with a rhotic accent.

But, advanced students of English might find it helpful for listening purposes to be aware of a tendency for native speakers of rhotic accents to drop /r/ in certain fairly restricted contexts.

This is generally only possible in words that have more than one /r/, and it is most common in unstressed syllables. Example words with the droppable "r" capitalized: beRserk, suRprise, paRticular. Dropping the /r/ in words like this is never mandatory, and for some words, certain speakers might consider dropping the /r/ to sound informal or uneducated.

You can read a description of the general phenomenon here: "R-Dissimilation in English", by Nancy Hall ( 2007)

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