While in Beijing you may notice locals adding a rhotic “er” sound at the end of words. You might have enthusiastically mistaken the Beijing “er” ( /ɚ/ in phonetics) for the key to authentic Chinese pronunciation, blending it into every word and massacring the language. However, be careful of the context! It would be fun to add this rhotic suffix after every word, but you might also provoke laughter or misunderstanding.
The basic pronunciation rules of “er” in Běijīnghuà
*Retroflex: A retroflex consonant is a coronal consonant where the tongue has a flat, concave, or even curled shape, and is articulated between the alveolar ridge and the hard palate.
Using “er” in different contexts
Why do people with Beijing accents add an “er” sound to the end of some words? On what kind of occasion can we add it? Here are some situations to add “er” you might not know.
To describe something you like or something cute
Kid 小孩儿 xiǎohár
Puppy 小狗儿 xiǎogǒur
To make fun of someone
Perpetually single person 光棍儿 guānggùr
Country bumpkin 乡巴佬儿 xiāngbālǎor
To transform a verb into a noun
Draw 画 huà -> painting 画儿 huàr
Cover 盖 gài -> lid 盖儿 gàir