November 11, 2010
From Language Log
It is possible to convince people of the truth of certain empirical claims about their own pronunciation. It involves recording them and making them listen to the playback. The linguist David Crystal was doing a workshop for British teachers and found that one of them regarded intrusive [r] as an abomination. That is, she regarded it as utterly wrong and unacceptable and coarse to pronounce the idea of it as the idearof it, as millions of British speakers do. So he had her say a few phrases like the idea of Africa and Asia on the other hand, and played her back. There were some clear cases of intrusive [r], and when she listened she could hear them herself. For a moment there was silence, and then the woman simply burst into tears.
David Crystal tells that embarrassing story with no relish at all.