/hw/, herb

Mark A. Mandel Mark_Mandel at DRAGONSYS.COM
Mon Jan 29 18:47:43 UTC 2001

Lynne Murphy <lynnem at COGS.SUSX.AC.UK> writes:

My next question:  does anyone/any region in the US use the Brit
pronunciation of 'herb' (with the /h/), and which pronunciation is
prevalent in Canada?

Not that I can recall, except just possibly for some individual speakers
who I can't make a pattern out of. /h at rb/ is a man's name here, period.
Pronouncing the "h" in "herb" is a setup for a gag.

And as long as I'm throwing out BrE/AmE pronunciation issues, I'll note
that my students were discussing my fellow American colleague's
pronunciation before class the other day, and asked me why he pronounces
words like 'where' with a /hw/.  This might signal that the downfall of
/hw/ is progressing faster in the UK than the US?  Fowler's notes that the
Concise Oxford of 1995 left out all the /hw/ pronunciations, while AHD4 and
M-W10 still put /hw/ pronunciations first--even for words like 'whammy'
which I've never heard as /hwami/.

At one point in my work I proposed /hw/ for the UK prons of words with
written "wh", only to be corrected by my UK-native co-workers with exactly
that assertion: that /hw/ is dead, dead, dead in the UK even if it's still
hanging on by its fingernails this side the Water.

   Mark A. Mandel : Dragon Systems, a Lernout & Hauspie company
          Mark_Mandel at dragonsys.com : Senior Linguist
 320 Nevada St., Newton, MA 02460, USA : http://www.dragonsys.com

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