Arnold Zwicky zwicky at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU
Wed Apr 19 03:06:37 UTC 2000

i have /k/ in temporal "quarter" ("a quarter past/after/to/of three")
but (usually) /kw/ in all other uses of "quarter" (including the
name of the u.s. coin and the ordinary fractional use: "a quarter
for each quarter of the pie").  these are all high-frequency uses.
in lower-frequency uses (like "quarter horse" or "the enlisted
men's quarters") i *think* i always have /kw/.

this is not as easy to hear as you might think.  the initial /k/
before /O/ (open o), as in CORD, is significantly labialized,
in anticipation of the (for me) strongly rounded /O/.  this makes
it *very close* phonetically to the realization of /kw/, which is
a labialized [k] released into a short voiceless [W].  it's that
little [W] that makes all the difference.  and in high-frequency
items, especially in contexts where the identity of the item is
highly determined by context, you can get away with saving that
bit of articulation.  so i (often) do.

i suspect that occurrences of simple [k] for /kw/ before /O/
are more frequent that people imagine.

arnold (zwicky at csli.stanford.edu)

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