h in what and where

Douglas G. Wilson douglas at NB.NET
Fri Mar 8 23:15:47 UTC 2002

>I'm curious: Who pronounces the h in what and where? Does it depend on age,
>region, race, or class?

X and Y are siblings raised in the same household in the Pittsburgh area.
X, age 13, definitely pronounces the /h/ in careful speech (but may not do
it consistently in rapid speech, I'm not sure). Y, age 9, apparently does
not ever pronounce the /h/, but recognizes it, e.g., recognizes /weilz/ as
either "whales" or "Wales" but /hweilz/ as only "whales". One parent
pronounces the /h/ always (I think), the other parent at least in careful
speech and perhaps always.

These persons seem to be of the same 'race', 'class', etc., as one might
guess. Their pronunciations differ slightly in other particulars too.
[Nobody in the household speaks with strong 'Pittsburgh' features such as
"power" = "par" or "legal" rhyming with "wiggle".]

-- Doug Wilson

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