isoglosses for hw/w

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Fri Feb 1 02:22:20 UTC 2008

It's something that I, naturally, would never have noticed, except
that the speakers themselves, classmates from places like Yreka,
Truckee, Los Angeles, and San Diego, and housemates and classmates
from places like Pacific Palisades, Bellflower, San Diego, and San
Ysidro, remarked on it. It's not like "through" vs. "done," where you
don't have to be paying attention to notice the difference. As soon as
I had occasion to hear it, I noticed the difference between "your
you're" as pronounced by white Northerners vs. the way that they're
pronounced in r-ful Southern dialects. OTOH, the first time that
someone pointed out to me, in 1960, that /hw/ was becoming /w/, it
struck me as utter nonsense. It wasn't until someone else pointed it
out to me in 1973 that I realized that the claim was true and I began
to hear examples of it everywhere, whereas, before, I hadn't heard it

The most extreme case that I've ever known is the case of a friend of
mine who pronounces, e.g. "street" as "skreek." If you point this out
to him, he will adamantly deny it, claiming that he always says
"street." And, under those circumstances, he always *does* say
"street."  But, once he's back to unmonitored speech, he's also back
to saying "skreek." So, though I've known him since 1961, I've never
been able to show him that he says "skreek." Of course, I long ago
stopped trying, there being no point in proving to a person that he's
different from other people in a negative way.


lized that th claim was true

On Jan 30, 2008 3:55 PM, sagehen <sagehen at> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       sagehen <sagehen at WESTELCOM.COM>
> Subject:      Re: isoglosses for hw/w
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> on 1/29/08 11:37 AM, Benjamin Barrett at gogaku at IX.NETCOM.COM wrote:
> > I missed most of this thread, but the statement that "hem" and "him"
> > are not distinguished in California seemed amazing to me.
> >
> > I lived in the Bay Area for a little more than three years and never
> > noticed this merger. It's possible that I missed it (when I lived
> > there, other pronunciations were pointed out to me that I had
> > missed), but I don't think I would miss that one.
> ~~~~~~~~~
> I too lived in the Bay Area -- in my case, for ten years -- & don't recall
> this merger as widely characteristic.   While a lot of my contacts were in
> the academic community, I worked at a variety of jobs, blue-, pink- & white-
> collar, around the Bay Area & dealt with a fair cross section of the
> population.
> AM
> ------------------------------------------------------------
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