----- Original Message -----
From: Lud
To: phoNet@yahoogroups.com
Sent: Sunday, June 08, 2003 2:41 AM
Subject: [phoNet] "The WH sound"

> I've been watching lots of closed captioned TV series these days and
there's something strange I've been realising.
> The WH sound sounds very strange to me.
> Sometimes when people talk very fast, I can't hear the wh sound in some
words, mainly in WITH and WE'RE or it sounds very strange. Can somebody
explain why???

Well, it shouldn't be there to begin with, for these words should start with
/w/! However, given that Old English wr-, r- and hr- are reckoned to have
merged by some stage to /r_w/ (/r/ with lip-rounding), a similar perversity
in some dialects would not surprise me.

Old English hw- normally yields Modern English <wh>, which in what pass for
Standard English, can be [hw], [W] or [w], the latter implying a complete
merger with /w/, as in my primary idiolect. (I hesitate to say dialect, for
my mother uses [W], which my father and I have great difficulty in
distinguishing from [w], which we use.) [hw], which has been seen as
chiefly American and Scottish, seems to be making a come back, and I
sometimes switch to using it.

> And what happens to the pronunciation of the contraction "DIDN'T", because
sometimes I hear it like it's pronnounced "int".?

I would have thought it was a straightforward combination of slurring and
swallowing. Piotr made the point in an earleir posting (not very far back
in the list) that form words tend to be slurred. I suspect the initial /d/
gets 'swallowed' because of poor volume control, possibly due to