A number of recent papers have demonstrated the advantages of using a
phonological model incorporating the timing and magnitude of articulatory
gestures to account for alternations involving segments such as the
English nasals, liquids and glides (e.g. Krakow 1989, Browman &
Goldstein 1992, 1995, Sproat & Fujimura 1993, Gick, in press). Some
of these works (McMahon et al. 1994, McMahon & Foulkes 1995) have
made specific reference to the well-known phenomenon of English
intrusive r, shown in (1).
However, previous analyses have not linked the intrusive r explicitly to
other similar processes, nor viewed all of these processes as the natural
results of more general principles of phonological organisation. Thus, the
intrusive r has remained, in the eyes of most linguists, an isolated quirk of
English history, or, as one phonologist (McCarthy 1993: 191) has called
it, ‘the phonologically unnatural phenomenon of r-epenthesis’.
The present paper introduces into the discussion of intrusive r a
recently documented related phenomenon known as intrusive l (Gick
1991, 1997, in preparation, Miller 1993). It is argued that these new facts,
in conjunction with current advances in the understanding of articulatory
factors in syllable structure, support a view in which the intrusive r and l
are synchronically underlyingly present.