Voiceless vowels in English

Benjamin Barrett gogaku at IX.NETCOM.COM
Tue Apr 8 18:07:28 UTC 2008

On Apr 8, 2008, at 10:59 AM, Laurence Horn wrote:

> At 10:43 AM -0700 4/8/08, Benjamin Barrett wrote:
>> I recall learning that we don't have voiceless vowels in English.
>> Two words have recently come to my attention, though, that seem to:
>> Chicago and hilarious.
>> The first "i" in Chicago seems to vary between voiceless and
>> nonexistent (onset = [shk]). In hilarious, the first "i" in hilarious
>> seems to range from +/- voiceless [I] to+/- schwa.
>> I can understand that the [I] in Chicago goes voiceless because of
>> the
>> voiceless environment.
>> In hilarious, it seems the environment inducing this is the
>> unstressed
>> syllable [hI]. Hibachi and Hidalgo seem to work the same. Perhaps
>> this
>> is because the voicing of the vowel is permitted to be delayed to the
>> next consonant.
>> Is there a general rule for devoiced vowels in English?
> You're not counting the "h" in "aha" or (the second one) in "uh-huh"
> as voiceless vowels, I take it?
I think I'm missing the point of your question. Each of those words
have two voiced vowels for me, though the [h] is devoiced. BB

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