+
upworthy
Education

Fascinating video explains why 'R' is sometimes considered a vowel in the English language

"'R' is an incredibly weird letter with so many different sounds and functions."

vowels; consonants; English pronunciation; PBS Otherwords; linguistics

Video explains why "R" is sometimes considered a vowel.

If you went to elementary school in the United States, then you learned that vowels are "A, E, I, O, U and sometimes Y." All other letters of the alphabet are consonants and make a hard or soft sound depending on their placement around the vowel.

But apparently, our elementary school teachers may have missed a sometime-y vowel…and nobody puts "R" in the corner.

That was a terrible "Dirty Dancing" reference, but nonetheless, here we are looking at the English language with a collective "What the heck?" At no point in my native English-speaking life did I ever realize "R" could sometimes possess the characteristics of a vowel. But PBS said so, and they brought us "Sesame Street," so I'm inclined to believe them.

Erica Brozovsky, Ph.D. breaks down what makes a vowel and explores how the letter "R" in the English language fits that description in the PBS series "Otherwords."


"Linguists define vowels not so much as letters but sounds," Dr. Brozovsky explains. "To qualify as a vowel, a sound must meet a few general criteria." The criteria include that your voice box must vibrate when you make the sound, it should function as the peak of a syllable and you must have an unobstructed vocal tract when you say it. That basically just means you can't use your lips or tongue to make the sound, or it would be considered a consonant.

Now, I know what you're doing. You're making the "R" sound thinking, "My teeth are touching my lips to make that sound." But before you write off Dr. Brozovsky, you should check out the video, because using "R" as a vowel seems to be a regional thing that people from certain parts of Boston and New York have mastered, likely without even knowing. But she can explain it much better than I can, so check out the video below.


All GIFs and images via Exposure Labs.


Photographer James Balog and his crew were hanging out near a glacier when their camera captured something extraordinary.

They were in Greenland, gathering footage from the time-lapse they'd positioned all around the Arctic Circle for the last several years.

Keep ReadingShow less
Education

Someone criticized a middle school teacher's behavior. Her comeback was an A+.

When someone commented, "your a teacher act like it," Amy Allen hilariously took the advice to heart.

Representative image by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

It's OK for teachers to have fun with their students.

Being a teacher isn't easy. Teaching middle school students is particularly not easy. Teaching middle school students who spent several of their formative years going through a global pandemic in the age of smartphones, social media and a youth mental health crisis is downright heroic.

If you haven't spent time in a middle school classroom, you may not fully grasp the intensity of it on every level, from awkwardness to body odor to the delightful hilarity that tweens bring to the table. When you connect with your students, it can be incredibly rewarding, and when you don't…well, we all read "Lord of the Flies," right?

Skilled teachers bring out the best in young people, and that can be done in many different ways. For Amy Allen, it's by making her classroom a fun, welcoming place for kids to learn.

Keep ReadingShow less

Jimmy Carter at the COmmonwealth Club.

Jimmy Carter, 99, was the 39th president of the United States (1977 to 1981). Looking back on his achievements both in and out of office, it’s easy to say that he was a man ahead of his time. He was far ahead of the mainstream when it came to advocating for social justice, human rights, and the environment.

Carter famously installed solar panels on the White House in 1979, only to have them removed by Ronald Reagan.

The former peanut farmer and Navy Lieutenant from Plains, Georgia, was also far ahead of his time when supporting gay rights. In 1976, while running for president, he said he would sign the Equality Act, an amendment to the 1964 Civil Rights Act that would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation. “I will certainly sign it, because I don’t think it’s right to single out homosexuals for special abuse or special harassment,” he said.

Keep ReadingShow less
Health

Please read this before you post another RIP on social media

There is a hierarchy of grief and it's important to know where you fall on it before posting about someone's death.

Image from GOOD.

Working through grief is a community thing.


Grieving in the technology age is uncharted territory.

I'll take you back to Saturday, June 9, 2012. At 8:20 a.m., my 36-year-old husband was pronounced dead at a hospital just outside Washington, D.C.

By 9:20 a.m., my cellphone would not stop ringing or text-alerting me long enough for me to make the necessary calls that I needed to make: people like immediate family, primary-care doctors to discuss death certificates and autopsies, funeral homes to discuss picking him up, and so on. Real things, important things, time-sensitive, urgent things.

At 9:47 a.m., while speaking to a police officer (because yes, when your spouse dies, you must be questioned by the police immediately), one call did make it through. I didn't recognize the number. But in those moments, I knew I should break my normal rule and answer all calls. "He's dead??? Oh my God. Who's with you? Are you OK? Why am I reading this on Facebook? Taya, what the heck is going on?"

Keep ReadingShow less
Mental Health

The danger of high-functioning depression as told by a college student

Overachievers can struggle with mental health issues, too.


I first saw a psychiatrist for my anxiety and depression as a junior in high school.

During her evaluation, she asked about my coursework. I told her that I had a 4.0 GPA and had filled my schedule with pre-AP and AP classes. A puzzled look crossed her face. She asked about my involvement in extracurricular activities. As I rattled off the long list of groups and organizations I was a part of, her frown creased further.

Keep ReadingShow less

Chris Hemsworth and daughter.

In addition to being the star of Marvel franchise "Thor," actor Chris Hemsworth is also a father-of-three? And it turns out, he's pretty much the coolest dad ever.

In a clip from a 2015 interview on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show," Hemsworth shared an interesting conversation he had with his 4-year-old daughter India.

Keep ReadingShow less