endangered phonemes

Arnold Zwicky zwicky at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU
Fri Apr 14 18:17:18 UTC 2000

/w/ vs. /hw/: i have the distinction, but for me interrogative and
exclamatory WHY diverge.  i was born before 1943, by the way, and i
recall noticing the two WHYs in my very first linguistics class, taken
over 40 years ago.

for me, all words with /hw/ have variants with /w/ in unaccented
positions and in fast/casual speech.  so for me the distinction is
between words that always have /w/ and words that are variable between
/hw/ and /w/.

presumably, this is the source of invariable /w/ in exclamatory WHY
for some of us; it's a casual speech item, *and* it's usually
subordinated in accent to what immediately follows.  WHOOPS has
preserved its (variable) /hw/ for me, because it's accented, but
i could see how it could move to the /w/ camp for some speakers
who have the /hw/-/w/ distinction.

arnold (zwicky at csli.stanford.edu)

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