Front round vowels … and [r]?

Arnold Zwicky made a quick Language Log post this morning, pointing to the Wikipedia page on heavy metal umlaut. A highly edutaining page, especially if (like me) you’re at that special intersection of “Linguistics Geek” and “Music Nerd”. But there was something specific there that caught my phonologist-eye:

At one Mötley Crüe performance in Germany, the entire audience started chanting “Moertley Crueh!”

Where does that [r] in “Moertley” come from?

I know there’s some lip rounding in English [r], and I’m guessing that the coronal articulation contributes to an English speaker’s percept of an [r] when they hear a front rounded vowel. I had noticed this sort of thing at least once before, in my wife Karen’s pronunciation of the name of a mutual Turkish friend (and linguist), Gülşat Aygen — Karen’s pronunciation is essentially [ɡɚˈʃat]. I suppose I had always assumed that Karen’s [r] here had as much to do with the liquid [l] as with the front-round vowel; somehow, the combination of those two sounds like [ɚ]. But there seems to be more to it than this.

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