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In Paul Joyce's German Course, he pronounces the ending of 'bitter' (sound link) with a roll. This is very different from the vocalic r I've been taught, and very different from the pronunciations on Forvo.

Is this a mistake? A regional pronunciation? Or is it something else?

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

The standard pronunciation for bitter is [ˈbɪtɐ], i.e. the phonemes /ər/ are represented by the vowel [ɐ]; for bitte, it is [ˈbɪtə], only differing in the final vowel, but clearly distinguishable for German native speakers.

The pronunciation [ˈbɪtər], as heard in your linked example, is very unusual, probably only used when over-enunciating. It is recommended in Theodor Siebs’s Bühnenaussprache (pronunciation for theater actors), which was described as “ridiculous” already a hundred years ago.

On the other hand, [ˈbɪtr] without an ə (or with only a very weak one) does occur in several regional variants of German, e.g. in Switzerland.

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