Penny Alexander’s posts in May 2012 about how her children pronounced “girls” and “world” reminded me of Matthew, a little boy who used to live next door to us in the 1960s. He couldn’t pronounce the r-sound.
If the r-sound occurred in the middle of a word, he wouldn’t pronounce it at all. So he would say “ice-c’eam”. His friend Andrew became “And’ew”.
If the r-sound occurred at the start of a word, he would pronounce it as a y-sound. So another friend of his, Roland, became “Yoland”. In wet weather, Matthew would say: “It’s yaining.”
We thought the problem would get sorted out when Matthew started school. But it didn’t.
Matthew and his family moved away from the area. Then a couple of years later, they paid us a visit. I wasn’t there, but the Deceased Lady was, and she told me that Matthew could now pronounce the r-sound perfectly well.
[Original posting 17 May 2012]