Dr. John E. McLaughlin and Michelle R. Sutton mclasutt at brigham.net
Tue Feb 2 15:53:22 UTC 1999

Peter &/or Graham wrote:

> Larry writes of initial /hw/ as if it were indeed /hw/.   I have seen this
> description of it in the text books, and been puzzled by it.   In my dialect
> (NZ) it is a voiceless /w/.   There is no /h/ at all.
> I'm just checking back, I guess.   Do some speakers actually say /h/+ /w/?
> I always thought the textbooks were wrong.

I don't have it in my dialect, but I assumed that it was a voiceless [w] as
well.  I think that the /hw/ orthography may be based on Anglo-Saxon spelling
{hwael} (along with its lost 'buddies' hr, hn, and hl).  As an aside, in
addition to "losing the h" in words like 'whale', my dialect of English has
also "lost the h" in words like 'human', so it is now homophonous with 'Yuman'.
However, with monosyllables like 'hue' and 'huge', the [h] has become a
voiceless palatal fricative [cju] and [cjudZ] (there should be a cedilla under
the c).

John McLaughlin
Utah State University

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