The hard r is a phrase, that is used to distinguish between the various forms of the number one racial slur of the United States; nigga and nigger, the “hard r” referring to the latter.
While both the terms’ use is unacceptable and offensive, the one referred to as the “hard r” is said to be conveying more racial content.
Origin of the term
The distinction between the two variations come from the fact, that African American Vernacular English rarely pronounces the –er at the end of the words, while white Americans usually accent and roll the –r at the end of phrases.
Over the years, the two distinct pronunciations grew to two distinct words, both clinging back to the memories of slavery and oppression.
Spread of the term
The spread of the hip hop genre and growing popularity of rap music had given black people the opportunity to give voice to their feelings.
In expressing themselves, artists often seize the opportunity to use the racial slur, but almost always do it without the “hard r.”
This had led to further distinction between the two terms.
The first Urban Dictionary entry on the subject was written in 2011.
- Urban Dictionary – Hard R