Advice on rolling my R's please

Annwyl pawb, I’ve never been able to roll/trill my letter R’s but now learning to Welsh I’m finding this more and more frustrating. I try to mimic Catrin and Aran’s speech but their lovely trilling R’s disappear when it’s my turn to speak! Any advice and tips would be very welcome please. Diolch.

1 Like

I don’t think you need to worry about it. I’ve been in Scotland for 40 years now, apparently home of rolled Rs. Emphasised Rs, maybe, rolled, well I’m not convinced. If you can say Prince Harry then you already have some perfectly respectable Rs. Just raise the profile of your other Rs when they are followed by a consonant as in ‘barn’, or after a vowel as in ‘bar’.

Here, in Russian-speaking countries, it’s an issue too, because it’s a rather complicated sound, but it must be pronounced trilled. So, lots of children have to go to special speech correction classes to get it right. They are taught to pronounce “tr-tr-tr-tr” and “dr-dr-dr” first, there, and only then to get to the pure sound. This is because when you pronounce the trilled “r” your tongue touches the top of your mouth in exactly the same place where it is when you pronounce “t” and “d” sounds. So it’s a bit easier to “tune in to find the right sound” first, and then to try to pronounce it on its own.


You could try practicing a flutter tongue to exercise the muscles in your tongue. No need to use voice just use lots of air. This removes the complexity having to fit it into a word. Just get used to that pattern.

What I read on (I think) the old-old-old forum (or however many olds is appropriate :slight_smile: ) was to say ‘train’ with a D between the T R, over and over and over. Tudurain, tudurain, tudurain… … … trrrrrain.

Mine are still pretty poor, but that’s how I did it.


Honestly, it’s not an easy thing to pull off. An untrilled ‘r’ is supposed to be pronounced with the tongue in the same place as when pronouncing an ‘l’ - many people actually pronounce it wrong (this is a speech impediment), and while it’s not even noticeable in everyday speech (except in extreme circumstances, like Jonathan Ross), it makes the trilled ‘r’ much harder because your tongue isn’t in the right place. Having your tongue in the right place is half the battle. After that, just keep trying. Eventually, your mouth will simply get used to the movement.

There was a famous politician, one of the “Gang of Four” who left Labour to form the SDP. He was referred to as “Woy” Jenkins, for obvious, if unkind, reasons! He was Welsh, but, I suspect, not a speaker of yr hen iaith. However, there must be people who have the same problem who are mother tongue Cymraeg, so I’d guess others can still understand them!!
So, conclusion, try by all means, but don’t fret too much about it!! :grin: :thumbsup:

Advice on rolling your r’s:

  1. If you can’t, don’t. There are plenty of first language Welsh speakers who can’t. You hear the “growling” French r (in the throat) quite often in Ceredigion, as well as something close to a v sound.

  2. If you say budum budum budum budum very fast, you will often find the d turrning into a trilled r. You can hep the process by “feeling” where your tongue is and moving it alightly further back along the top of the roof of your mouth. You’ll also need a tiny bit more breath to pass through the mouth than in a pure budum, and a tiny bit less effort as you hit the roof of the mouth with the tongue. Don;t try doing all those things at the same time, try saying a lot of budum first, then moving the tongue back a bit and then blowing a bit. It’s all about muscle memory, and getting a bit of strength and coordination in the tongue that has never been needed before.

  3. Don’t worry in the slightest if you never achieve a trilled r, and definitely don’t spend time trying to improve your r when you should be learning new words / patterns / chatting to people - it’s not important enough!

(On point 1, my 2nd son makes his rolled r in his cheek somewhere, and the trill is actually formed by a visible vibration in the cheek!)


I used to have a problem and my brothers would take the micky out of me and the more I worried about it the harder it seemed to be - sometimes I could do it and sometimes when the pressure was on I just couldn’t and I never knew why. At school where I was the quiet one, who didn’t really want to be heard, I would find it very difficult, because I was almost trying to say things so gently and quietly hoping that no-one would really here me. Also I was nervous trying to accentuate the Welsh accent and rolling an R with a quietly spoken, more English accent is more difficult. Add to that not wanting anyone to really hear your rolled R and I was doomed. The teacher then used to shout and try to force it out of me and that only made things worse and I ended up with a real complex about this one. Happily those days are now completely gone.

The light bulb moment for me was about five years ago and now it seems a breeze. I was in a travel agents and I mentioned the name of a friend of one of the staff – Mrs Morgan pronounced with a quiet English accent, with minimal tongue movement and the throat hardly opening . When she replied the volume of her speech significantly increased, the accent changed completely and the emphasis was now on the strong start to the MO (as in mop, not as in more). This has a very short and different O which I think changes the shape of the tongue and somehow sets up the rolling R much more easily…

The same thing happens with Sion Corn, where the Sio of Sion is more like the Sho in shop (not like the sho in show) and the Co is more like the Co in Cod rather than the co in cone). Those little changes to the other pronounced parts of the word really make a huge difference. Then when you have rolled the r’s for a day or so, you forget about it and find that you will roll them regardless of how you say the other letters, but setting up the rolling R with the other letters pronounced differently and with more of a very deliberate and pronounced Welsh accent, made the breakthrough for me.

I don’t know if that will help, but might be worth a go? Also fretting about it makes it worse, so try to be relaxed about it, loosen up and just have a go now and again

1 Like

After living in Spain last year rolling my R’s isn’t too difficult, I found just trying to do it every time I said certain words was what helped me learn it. I was looking after a kid called’ Alvaro’, although you don’t roll the R in the middle of a word in Spanish (unlike Welsh), I kept on trying to pronounce his name with the R. At first I could only do it in his name, but was gradually able to use it in more words. Maybe even try some English words you speak everyday.

One thing is I cannot do it after the letter T. I spoke to a fluent Welsh speaker, and although he hadn’t thought about it before, conceded he didn’t roll the rolled R in those words, e.g. Trio. @Iestyn is this the general case, or do you manage to get out that trilled R after the letter T? I’m wondering if I should be pursuing this


If you really want to roll the r in words with tr, perhaps in trio, where I don’t think it is rolled that often - try saying tario or tyrio and then T rio. Or sing the kids song (to the tune of in and out the dusty bluebells) - mewn a mas y clychau’r glas, mewn a mas y clychau’r glas, mewn a mas y clychau’r glas - Ti yw y Meistr.

or instead of saying yn trio i’ wneud e, say ynt rio i’ wneud e as if you an old fashioned Welsh preacher in a pulpit

T and r are said with the tongue almost in the same position so it’s quite easy to say them after each other. But my native language does have the rolling r so I don’t really get why saying it is difficult…


I surely missed this in forum mix of things … which is your native language?

For the rolling R, well, my native language - Slovene - is full of them in addition to Č (ch) Ž (something like “zh”??) and Š (sh). I wish I could help you in a way with that, but since it is so natural to say them to me I don’t find the way to explain things.

I agree with @Iestyn and his “rules” the most. …

Haha, that actually worked really well. Can do it as well as other now. Don’t understand why I was having problems with just that bit

@tygerc I think because they are practically in the same place was the problem, I was separating the sounds too much, so my tongue had moved after the T, as opposed to doing it in one

1 Like

I was just about. To delete the post because I thought I was talking rubbish, but I have had major problems with this since I was a child. Everyone kept telling me how easy it was and when it clicks it actually is. As someone born and brought up in Walrs with significant exposure to the language, the day it clicked was a special one.

Trying hard won’t work here, it will happen all of its own one day and you’ll wonder what all the fuss was about. Sounds like you have now nailed it and nothing else needed now, because it just gets easier and more natural.



But then again, I have major problems with dd (voiced th). After practising it a lot, I can say in a separate word, but in a sentence… well, sometimes.


I have no doubt we will all conquer these pronuncing fortresses one day … My problem is not saying “dd” sound but more combining it with “d” sounds like in the “byddi di’n” and similar to this one. :slight_smile:

1 Like

I think there will always be these things in new languages and quite often it has nothing to do with technique or where the tongue is etc etc. You can’t practice the problems out, because the more you focus on them the worse the problem gets. I think that it has more to do with something in the brain, which has been developed in the dominant language that inhibits certain things happening in the new language.

I find listening and singing along to songs very useful, because something different happens when you sing. They say people who stammer can lose the stammer when they are singing. If there was a song with several byddi di’n bits in it - I can’t think of one, but I would suspect that would be really useful.

I learned a lot of Sevillanas songs when I was younger and while it didn’t help with Spanish conversations (the dialect is very different from normal Spanish anyway), it did give me real control and confidence over some really tricky word combinations. I think in singing you brain moves away from thinking about problems and starts to focus on other things. I started singing a Sevillanas song in a pub in Cambridge when I was in my twenties and I heard this rhythmical clapping start on a table nearby - there were about a dozen students from Andalucia who added in the hand clapping percussion - it was quite magical, but that’s going off the point I suppose…

If there’s none I’ll invent one. - hehe :slight_smile:

I don’t mind about this particular “byddi di’n” problem too much but I should not blind myself saying it is not there though.

In general Slovenian language is as that that we naturally shouldn’t have much trouble saying any pronunciation at all but not all are equal in that so yah, there are things which bother us some times. :slight_smile:

And, I can very well imagine that “clapping” moment in the pub! It pulls you off and you go along with that not even practically being aware … :slight_smile:


1 Like

Dwi’n sori if this has already been mentioned, but it helps to practise your ‘rolling r’ exercises in bed, lying on your back! Doing so will relax your throat muscles. Relax your throat muscles, focus on the front part of your tongue. :blush: