Do you have a 'crispy R?' A podcast interview has everyone down a rabbit hole about 'Rs'
Is this a real thing?
"Crispy Rs" are taking over social media. The phrase has sent many curious people down a deep, dark rabbit hole of confusion while they try to decipher what a "crispy R" is and if they have it. It's supposedly some sort of leftover Mid-Atlantic or Transatlantic old-school Hollywood actor dialect, which conjures the image of someone like Humphrey Bogart scolding some poor doe-eyed woman.
Is that what it is? Seems like everyone is trying to figure it out. Just about every part of the country has a different dialect, and words sound different depending on the region in which someone grew up. In some cases, words may be completely different for the same item—for instance, Northerners and Southerners argue over if soft drinks are called "pop" or "soda," and some people in the South just call it all "Coke." (Yes, all soft drinks, not just one particular brand.)
Some people say "worsh" instead of "wash" and "ruf" instead of "roof." Regional dialect really shapes the way we all speak, and I'm assuming has a hand in shaping the muscles that help us say certain words.
I recall moving from Pennsylvania to North Carolina, where I developed more of a "lazy tongue," unintentionally picking up a slight southern drawl. But when I would visit home, I would get literal cramps in my tongue as my normal dialect quickly returned.
It was fascinating, and yet with all of my dialect acrobatics, I've never been told I had "crispy Rs." What the heck is a "crispy R," and who's responsible for thrusting the internet into a tailspin of dialect semantics?
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Brian Firkus, better known by his stage name, Trixie Mattel, mentioned his disdain of "crispy Rs" on his podcast, The Bald and the Beautiful, and the clip went viral on TikTok. Firkus co-hosts the podcast with Brian McCook, who goes by the stage name Katya Zamolodchikova. McCook was initially confused by what a "crispy R" was until Firkus demonstrated, causing the other to react dramatically.
This 36-second interaction about "crispy Rs" set off a firestorm of people in the comments either thanking them for finally giving the sound a name or being confused about the difference. It didn't take long for people to attempt to explain the difference between a "non-crispy R" and a "crispy R," including a couple of speech pathologists.
#stitch with @greg.plus.coco thank you @trixiemattel for putting a name to this! they mention sarah michelle gellar in the vid but any other celebs that do this?
What constitutes a "crispy R" is difficult to explain, which causes people to get lost in explainer videos to figure out what it is and if they have it. One consistent example of this speech dialect is Kourtney Kardashian, which would make sense if it truly is a leftover from old Hollywood.
After climbing out of the deep hole of comparative videos that include speech experts, it would seem the "crispy R" sound comes from an air pocket that forms on the tongue of people that use the tip of their tongue to produce the "R" sound when pronouncing words. A "noncrispy R" happens when the speaker uses the middle of their tongue to pronounce the "R" sound in words. It seems very subtle, but for some people hearing someone use the "crispy R" is a pet peeve. Although dialect isn't typically a choice, some would like to never hear that sound again.
Are your "Rs" crispy, or are you one of those that are annoyed by the sound?