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I've been looking for documentation showing 不+"x" contractions resulting in "r" sounding initial consonants, but to no avail.

This is an interesting phenomenon and I'm sure the regular person would say: "it's just people talking fast, don't over think it," but in technical terms these would be some form of contractions. Think:

  • 不 + 知道 = bu rao

  • 不 + 是 = bu ri

I'm interested to know what kind of research has been done on these contractions, if any.

Any ideas?

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    It’s worth noting that 是, 知, and Pinyin [r] are all retroflex consonants. I don’t think quite the same effect can be achieved with, say, 不好. – droooze Mar 5 at 9:32
  • Something to do with [ɿ] perhaps? – user3306356 Mar 5 at 9:33
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    If I understood you correctly, no, I don’t think it has something to do with [ɿ]. Consider 不少, I can imagine it being pronounced as burao, but [ɿ] doesn’t appear in the words. – droooze Mar 5 at 9:38
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    This just exits in accent of Beijing (or places around Beijing), not in Madarin. – 賈可 Jacky Mar 6 at 4:54
  • 不知道 sometimes reads bu ri dao, even bu rao, as well as that 告诉你 reads as gaor ni, and 就这样 reads as jiu zhang. – 賈可 Jacky Mar 6 at 4:57
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This phenomenon is a non-standard regional accent, known as 儿化音. It is a phenomenon in some part of North China, especially in Beijing.

不知道 (bù zhī dào) → 不道 (bùr rào)

不是 (bù shì) → bú shì → 不 (búr)

告诉你 (gào sù nǐ) → 告你 (gàor nǐ)

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