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The Canine in Conversation
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figure 1


dog's letter. The letter R.reference 1 In Latin, as in many of the romance languages, the R is trilled similar to the growling or snarling of a dog, earning it the sobriquet, littera canina, literally dog's letter.reference 2

The OED offers a wonderful phenomenological description from Ben Johnson's English Grammar: R is the dog's letter, and hurreth in the sound, the tongue striking the inner palate, with a trembling about the teeth. reference 3


1. The Oxford English Dictionary Online. 2005. 3d ed. Accessed Feb 18 2010 from

2. Garg, Anu. 2010. Dog's Letter. A. Garg, ed. A Word a Day. Accessed Feb 18 2010 from http:// words/ dogs_letter.html.

3. The Oxford English Dictionary Online.

About the illustration: Figure 1 shows the letter R as a dog, or a dog posing in the form of the letter R, depending on how you think about it. © 2008 Jupiterimages Corporation.
  Last updated: February 18, 2010
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