Voiceless vowels in English

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Tue Apr 8 18:29:00 UTC 2008

At 11:07 AM -0700 4/8/08, Benjamin Barrett wrote:
>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
>>>voiceless environment.
>>>In hilarious, it seems the environment inducing this is the
>>>syllable [hI]. Hibachi and Hidalgo seem to work the same. Perhaps
>>>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
But isn't the "h" in such cases phonetically a voiceless [a] and a
voiceless [^] respectively?

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