Hypercorrection of /w/-/hw/

Dennis R. Preston preston at MSU.EDU
Sat May 22 21:25:23 UTC 2004


Nothing informal about it. I am a native speaker of wh-, and I cannot
utter exclamatory 'why' with wh-. Now you have elicited data (albeit
reported) from an native respondent.

Why is this? (By the way, plenty of wh-ers agree with me; well, maybe
not plenty, we are fading fast.) Could it be the date? Apparently
not; the first OED exclamatory use is cited from the early 16th C.,
well before the loss, even in the south of England.

A puzzle.


>I've noticed informally that "sincere" wh-speakers tend not to use
>the /hw/ in "why" when it's an interjection: e.g., "Why, I never
>thought of that."
>Geoff Nunberg

Dennis R. Preston
University Distinguished Professor
Department of Linguistics and Germanic, Slavic,
        Asian and African Languages
Wells Hall A-740
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48824-1027 USA
Office: (517) 353-0740
Fax: (517) 432-2736

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