Some data on herb, /hw-/

Dale Coye Dalecoye at AOL.COM
Mon Jan 29 13:56:15 UTC 2001

Responding to the query on herb and /hw-/.

My survey of Eng. professors for Shakespearean words 7 years ago (and 'herbs'
was one), showed that of 8 respondents born and raised  in Canada, 2 used
no-aitch (1 New Brunswick, 1 Newfoundland),  6 used aitch.   In the USA of 16
respondents 14 used no-aitch and 2 used an h... I'm looking at my summary and
I didn't note where these 2 were from in it.   Didn't ask my British
informants that one because I assumed it was all /h/.

As far as /hw/ goes-- I think I'm right in saying that it is not used in
England at all-- only by Scots and Irish-Eng. speakers-- don't know about

In the USA in my survey of freshmen at Princeton ten years ago I found that
they reported in a questionnaire that /hw-/ in 'where'  was virtually unknown
in the Northeast (In NY, PA, MD out of 127 resonses only 4 used /hw-/ - 2
from NYC and two from Philadelphia), but the percentages were higher in other
areas: Hawai 3 out of 8 used it, in Tex-Ok, Ark 29% used it, in Ontario and
the city of Montreal combined 3 out of 20 used it.  Nowhere else was it over
15%.  Where it does exist in the Northeast I can't help thinking it's owing
to the efforts of the random school teacher to achieve orthoepical nirvana.

Dale Coye
The College of NJ

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