----- Original Message -----
From: "Juozas Rimas" <bong@...>
To: <phoNet@egroups.com>
Sent: Thursday, April 27, 2000 11:32 PM
Subject: [phoNet] A "h" sound in "where"?

It's a real thing. Words beginning in WH were pronounced
with an initial [hw] in Old English. The old pronunciation
survives in Scottish and Irish English, but some speakers in
England and (especially) in the USA and Canada use it in an
attempt to speak "correctly" (schoolmasters and teachers of
elocution have always been fond of it). Some people
pronounce the [h] only for the sake of emphasis ("Hwat!?").

Incidentally, Old English had other strange clusters, e.g.
[hr] (hraefn 'raven'), [hn] (hnutu 'nut'), [hl] (hlystnian
'listen'), [wr] (writan 'write'), [wl] (wlitan 'gaze'), [fn]
(fneosan 'sneeze'), [kn] (cniht 'boy'), [gn] (gnawan
'gnaw'). Sometimes there is an orthographic trace of the old
pronunciation in modern English, but some of these clusters
were simplified so early that they didn't leave their
imprint on the spelling of English (which can be said to
reflect late Middle English pronunciation).


> Sometimes when I hear the word "where" pronounced by
native-speakers I feel
> the word doesn't begin straight with the [w] sound but
rather with a soft
> [h]: "hwhere". Is it a real thing or just my imagination?
> Juozas Rimas
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