In the summertime we'd drive my grandfather from Hallandale, Florida to Chicago, and as we'd pass through Tennessee he'd invariably remark, "Chattanooger. That's how the Bostonians say it." They don't, but he's certainly not the only one who thinks they do. The actual phenomenon underlying this belief is known technically as 'intrusive /r/.' When words ending in certain vowels (non-high ones) are followed by words beginning with vowels, people with this feature insert an /r/. So a Bostonian wouldn't just call Chattanooga 'Chattanooger,' but he or she certainly might say "Chattanoog[er] is in Tennessee." Or, to draw an example from my favorite corpus - Beatles lyrics - John Lennon sings "I saw[r] a film today, oh boy."
Two questions arise: who does this, and why? In answering one we will answer the other.
First off, as you undoubtedly know, some dialects of English are non-rhotic - that is, they drop the /r/ sound when it occurs after vowels - but not before them. A consequence of this is that the dropped /r/s come back when they are immediately before a word starting with a vowel. Thus in "Let It Be" Paul McCartney sings "In my hour of da(r)kness" and "There is still a light that shines on me." So intrusive /r/ happens when a word sounds like it has a dropped /r/ at the end but doesn't really, and the phantom /r/ appears precisely where a dropped /r/ would reappear, before a vowel.
Do all English speakers who drop /r/s have intrusive /r/? In a word, no. The key phrase in the paragraph above is "when a word sounds like it has a dropped /r/ at the end but doesn't. See, in some /r/ dropping dialects (such as African American, or the dwindling /r/ dropping white Southern dialects) the dropped /r/ alters the preceding vowel. In these dialects, then, 'manna' and 'manner' don't sound the same, so the confusion that gives rise to intrusive /r/ isn't present, and as a result there is no intrusive /r/.
All this is very complicated, and it's no wonder, then, that my grandfather had trouble mimicking it. Though Peter Trudgill's examples of people misusing intrusive /r/ in British pop songs may be problematic, the phenomenon, which I will dub 'intrusive intrusive /r/' is a very real one, and the point Trudgill is trying to make - namely, that people aren't as good as they think they are at miimcking other dialects - is entirely valid.
In the comments to my last post the question arose why a British professer would pronounce the name Echa as 'Eker.' After all, don't non-rhotic Brits have intrusive /r/? Shouldn't he therefore know how to use it. I would suggest two possible explanations:
1. He was mocking rhotic American dialects, but misanalyzing them and overgeneralizing. More likely, though, is the explanation suggested by the fact that
2. In British English intrusive /r/ is stigmatized, and this professor spoke a fairly posh dialect. I suspect, then, that intrusive /r/ is as foreign to him as was to my grandfather, and he too misanalyzed the phenomenon, and, attempting to employ it mockingly, misused it.
On an unrelated note, I want to acknowledge the sad fact that Billy Preston died on Monday. Honor his memory by reading my two posts about him.