This may sound absolutely crazy but I really need an answer to that.

How do natives pronounce "idea of"

I am not sure if I hear it correctly, but to me, it seems like when natives pronounce 'idea of' they add an extra 'r' to the pronunciation. So I hear something like 'idear of'. If that is true, why do they do that?

  • I would say (off the record) that most of us Americans would consider the r-sound at the end of "idea" as a regional accent and not as the correct pronunciation. I imagine that most people who pronounce "idear" would agree, as would most people who do not. I don't know what rule explains the fact that some people attach the r-sound to this word but not to other, apparently similar words. But you may have no reason to try to imitate this habit by including r's wherever this accent would. – Chaim Dec 11 '19 at 19:14

Eye-dear ov.

Now you have to find out how I pronounce "eye", "dear" and "ov" ...

OK, seriously, idea and idea aren't far off, although I know my pronunciation has a hint of a 'y' between the ɪ and the ə.

Similarly of and of are close enough IMO.

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  • haha, I know about those. but why 'dear' and not 'dea'? Is there a rule? – Maryam Jan 9 '18 at 2:41
  • Also, I have noticed the same thing for "the idea is". I hear them say it as if it is "the idear is" ... – Maryam Jan 9 '18 at 2:44
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    The "r" isn't really there, it's kind of a ... linking sound between the end of the "-ea" of "idea" and the "o-" of "of". Much like the French slip a -t- between some words, or a passing note in music, I guess. Cannot remember the technical term, don't think it particularly matters for this question ... – Will Crawford Jan 9 '18 at 2:47

This is called an intrusive R, and occurs in some non-rhotic accents of English, such as standard British English. It would not occur in rhotic accents such as a general American accent.

Basically, the final vowel of "idea" (the schwa) is pronounced the same as many words that end with an "R" in English in non-rhotic accents. Thus, when the a vowel follows the word "idea", or any word that ends with a schwa, the "R" is added back in. With many speakers of non-rhotic accents, this occurs with words that never historically had an "R" sound, such as "idea".

There is a Wikipedia article about this phenomenon.

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