White Flag -- "rythm", no vowel in

Amy West medievalist at W-STS.COM
Tue Mar 20 12:50:05 UTC 2012

On 3/20/12 12:02 AM, Automatic digest processor wrote:
> Date:    Mon, 19 Mar 2012 18:25:06 -0700
> From:    Benjamin Barrett<gogaku at IX.NETCOM.COM>
> Subject: Re: White Flag  -- "rythm", no vowel in
> I recall only "y," but Googling shows that some teachers toss the "w" =
> in.
> The Grammar Girl covers it at =
> http://grammar.quickanddirtytips.com/when-is-w-a-vowel.aspx, basically =
> saying that "w" is a vowel when used in a diphthong like in "how" or =
> "show."

Hmmm. . . .I remembered the OE spelling of just "hu"; the OED shows the
-w coming in/being expressed in Middle English: hv, hwu, wu, quhu,
qu(u)ow, heu, ou, heou, ME hw, ME ( w)houȝ, whou, hwou, wouȝ, wo, w,
Kent. hue), ME–15 hou, ME– how, (ME hov, ME–15 whow, Sc. quhou, quhow,
ME howghe, owe, hough(e, who, ME–16 howe, 15 whoe)

The ety gives the constructed Germanic stem as hwo.

And as for "show" (v.) we have OE sceawian. So there the -w- 's been
there for awhile, but it's definitely *not* acting vowel like in that form.

So, again I'm resisting the designation of -w as a vowel, again on
etymological grounds as opposed to phonological grounds, when, as a
Welsh American, I have every reason to push for -w- as a vowel. :-)

---Amy West

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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