Talk:Phonological history of English consonant clusters

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Sources for retained kn-, gn- and wr- in Scottish English[edit]

I'm skeptical of there being dialects of modern English that retain /kn-/ in knock, knee, and /vr-/ in write, wrought, especially considering that Scots is generally considered a separate language, not a dialect of English. Two sources were cited for these: and Unfortunatley the first of these is no longer available (404 error) and the second doesn't seem reliable to me. For one thing, the author doesn't cite his sources; for another, he doesn't seem to recognize the distinction between Scottish English and Scots language. --Angr (t·c) 10:20, 25 December 2005 (UTC)

I don't think know should be listed as an example of kn- n- merger because of the vowel difference. --belg4mit 2006-01-03

True. I've removed the information and cited (missing) reference.

Can someone please explain why these removals were reinstated?
With regard to the kn- and vr- entries, the 'source' quoted; a) seems to be factually inaccurate in that there seem to be no other available anecdotal or academic evidence; b) is no longer available and c) apparently in itself devoid of references for the claim.
The entry for gn- also seems to be similarly unsupportable and fails to provide a source. The link quoted doesn't seem to contain information relevant to the point. Not only that, but it's a page about the 'Scots' language which is something totally different from 'Scottish English' and therefore beyond the scope or relevance of this article.
Unless appropriate references can be provided for these claims, they should not be included. Bearinasidecar (talk) 19:20, 21 December 2010 (UTC)

This claim has been reinstated again without any reliable source. The source referenced does not contain any information which substantiates the point made. Not only that but it directs to a site about the Scots language, not Scottish English. I've removed the comments. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Bearinasidecar (talkcontribs) 20:40, 22 February 2011 (UTC)

Wine-whine merger[edit]

I've removed wine-whine merger from the h-cluster reductions, because the merging of /w/ and /W/ (as opposed to /w/ and /hw/) is not a reduction. 22:59, 29 December 2005 (UTC)

Well, that's one opinion. Another is that no English dialect has a phoneme /ʍ/ at all, but that some have the sequence /hw/ which is phonetically realized as [ʍ]. The name was originally Glide cluster reduction, which is Wells's name for the two mergers /hw/ -> /w/ and /hj/ -> /j/ together. Somewhere along the line someone decided that the medieval sound changes /hl, hn, hr/ -> /l, n, r/ needed to be discussed here too, and changed the name accordingly. --Angr (t·c) 23:52, 29 December 2005 (UTC)
If one's going to say that, then they might as well also say that no one has a /S/ phoneme, but that everyone has the sequence /hs/ which is phonetically realized as [S]. It's no more silly than saying that those people have the sequence /hw/ which is phonetically realized as [W]. Of course, saying either one of those is silly. 00:04, 30 December 2005 (UTC)
Besides the fact that English does allow similar combinations like /sw/ and /hj/, but clusters of two fricatives are rare and non-syllable-initial /h/ is nonexistent? You'll find that analyses like this are already in use, for example in Japanese phonology where [tS] and [S] are considered /tj/ and /sj/, so if you think it's silly, you've got a long way to go to convince the rest of the linguistic community.
I've heard that initial wh is actually realized phonetically as [hw] or [hW] for some speakers, anyway. --Ptcamn 04:39, 30 December 2005 (UTC)
It's the distribution of [ʍ] that leads to the suspicion it's actually /hw/: like other rising-sonority clusters, it can only appear in syllable onsets, not syllable codas. Like /h/, it cannot appear before a syllable that is both unstressed and noninitial. [ʃ] does not have these restrictions, so its distribution does not indicate an underlying structure /hs/. --Angr (t·c) 07:28, 30 December 2005 (UTC)
Accordingly I've moved it back. Even if you consider there to be a phoneme /W/, at least from an historical point of view this /W/ will have evolved from /hw/. Besides, it makes the article tidier to have it this way. Jimp 15:29, 30 December 2005 (UTC)
The section disappeared mysteriously in a "minor"-marked edit by DecGon on 17-Feb-2006. Should it be there or not? Note that the section is referenced by General American, and it is pretty well documented, so perhaps it should just be put back and left at that. --Todd Vierling 18:39, 22 March 2006 (UTC)
He moved it to Phonological history of English consonants, which is where Wine-whine merger now redirects to. But a link to English consonant cluster reductions#Wine-whine merger won't work anymore. Angr (talkcontribs) 19:30, 22 March 2006 (UTC)


from article:

"Dictionaries usually transcribe the sound of the wh in words like whine in accents without the merger as /hw/, but some phonologists think that /ʍ/ would be a better representation of the sound."

whose analyses are these? thanks. peace – ishwar  (speak) 17:00, 25 January 2006 (UTC)

I've added an IPA template to your post, Ishwar. I hope you don't mind. Jimp 01:38, 6 March 2006 (UTC)

Moved from Talk:Yod-dropping[edit]

Historical pronunciation[edit]

Does anyone have any reference that suggests that the yod-ful pronunciations of some of these words are historically prior to the "dropped" pronunciations? It strikes me that the article is actually saying that only a handful of dialects in the British Isles use them.

Some of the alleged historical pronunciations would appear to violate basic constraints of English phonology. "After / ɹ/: rude, rule, true, and threw are pronounced [ ɹu:d], [ ɹu:l], [t ɹu:] and [ θ ɹu:] instead of [ɹju:d], [ ɹju:l], [t ɹju:] and [ θ ɹju:]." Were a yod present in these words, they would acquire a second syllable.

I would call nonsense on the whole thing, but for the fact that my own speech has an echo of some of this. I do not have /ju:/ in any of these words, but in many of them I have /y:/ where this article suggests /ju:/: /ny:/ new, /ty:n/ tune, /y:s/ or /jy:s/ use and so forth. There may be something to this, but as it stands I am not sure. -- Smerdis of Tlön 15:11, 21 Feb 2005 (UTC)

If you look at Kenyon & Knott's Pronouncing Dictionary of American English you will see descriptions of accents where pairs like "rude"/"rood", "chews"/"choose", and even "yew"/"you" are distinct. But where they are distinct, the first members of each set are pronounced with the diphthong [ɪu], not with [ju]. It's also common for people with accents like yours to distinguish "lute" [lʉt] from "loot" [lut]. (I've never heard that the vowel is as far forward as [y], as you transcribed it.) --Angr 09:06, 4 Mar 2005 (UTC)

cleanup tag[edit]

I've added the {{cleanup}} tag to this article because of the recent additions. Someone needs to go through and add links to things that have Wikipedia articles, remove mentions of maps that aren't here, add references for ANAE, PEAS, LAMSAS, Jespersen, etc., and generally change what smells strongly of a copyvio from another site (though I can't find where it comes from) into a Wikipedia article. --Angr/tɔk tə mi 15:46, 30 May 2005 (UTC)

I found the site: it was a copyvio from, so I just deleted it. --Angr/tɔk tə mi 18:21, 30 May 2005 (UTC)


AxSkov, do you really pronounce Matthew [mæˈθjuː] with the stress on the second syllable? I've only ever heard ˈmæθju, with the stress on the first syllable. --Angr/tɔk tə mi 11:22, 3 September 2005 (UTC)


I changed the page to say that the yod in the word "Zeus" is dropped only in North American English, but Angr changed it back again, saying that yod dropping after /z/ is heard among some RP speakers too. I haven't heard this, and I'm interested - comments anyone? —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Hughcharlesparker (talkcontribs) 08:54, 25 October 2005 (UTC)

My source is John C. Wells's book Accents of English (p. 207), where he writes: "In RP there is variability in the environment of a preceding /θ, s, z, l/, as in /ɪnˈθ(j)uːzɪæzm̩/, /s(j)uːt/, /rɪˈz(j)uːm/, /l(j)uːd/ lewd". --Angr/tɔk tə mi 11:26, 25 October 2005 (UTC)
I speak Australian Eng. & pronounce no [j] in "Zeus". Jimp 15:02, 30 December 2005 (UTC)
In The Oxford English Dictionary it is pronounced as (zjuːs) though. Artur Buchhorn 22:56, 26 October 2007 (UTC)
I'm an RP-speaker, and I've never heard yod-dropping in either ‘Zeus’ or ‘enthusiasm’ from another RP-speaker. Again, the OED agrees. Additionally, ‘enthusiasm’ is usually pronounced with an /ɛ/. Twey (talk) 17:56, 16 July 2009 (UTC)
Angr must have the pin-pen merger like me then. It causes many screw ups. Thegryseone (talk) 18:03, 16 July 2009 (UTC)
I copied Wells's transcription of the word, not my own. And enthusiasm is only pronounced with an /ɛ/ if you put special emphasis on that syllable. In ordinary, casual speech it would be reduced to /ɪ/ or /ə/. +Angr 18:07, 16 July 2009 (UTC)
Oh, I see. That makes sense, because it's an unstressed syllable. However, for people who have the pin-pen merger it would always be /ɪ/. Thegryseone (talk) 18:24, 16 July 2009 (UTC)


(an exception to this is the name Matthew [ˈmæθjuː])

I don't think is a real exception. Isn't it due to the stress? --Ptcamn 07:57, 31 December 2005 (UTC)

I don't think is a real exception either but I think it's due to syllable division, i.e. [ˈmæθ.juː], like volume. Jimp 15:29, 3 January 2006 (UTC)
You're both right. It has that syllable division because of the stress, and it's no different from volume. I'm removing it. --Angr (t·c) 15:35, 3 January 2006 (UTC)

Moved from Talk:Final consonant cluster reduction[edit]

Thanks for adding sources. Unfortunately, doesn't work for me (I get "The page cannot be found", but I'll try again later in case it's just temporarily broken). And discusses the dropping of final consonants, but does not discuss the aspect I actually wanted sources for, the claim the the plural of tes' is tesses. --Angr/tɔk tə mi 05:49, 30 September 2005 (UTC)

Okay, I found the link. It's at with a capital F. And it doesn't discuss plurals like tesses either. --Angr/tɔk tə mi 05:56, 30 September 2005 (UTC)
Okay, here are two sources that do discuss plurals like tesses and I've added them to the sources list. 23:32, 30 September 2005 (UTC)

Acronym usage[edit]

The usage of AAVE and African American Vernacular English aren't consistent/in good form, requesting fixage Dextrose (talk) 05:07, 4 July 2008 (UTC)

{{Sofixit}}. ;-) —Angr 05:31, 4 July 2008 (UTC)


The word "associate" and its variants puzzle me because of the difference between /əˈsoʊʃieɪt/ and /əˈsoʊsieɪt/. Does anybody else see the first pronounciation as redundant? I could imagine that /əˈsoʊsieɪt/ would be conservative, then there may be a reduction of the third vowel cluster to /əˈsoʊsjeɪt/, and finally a coalescence to /əˈsoʊʃeɪt/; so wouldn't /əˈsoʊʃieɪt/ be a repetition of a coalesced yod?

Two points/questions[edit]

  1. Yod-coalescence: I don't see sj -> ʒ, as in "resume" (I think most australians pronounce it that way).
Actually, looking closer, the examples are unrepresentative: 4 examples of tj, 3 of dj, and none of sj or zj. Stevage 17:45, 16 April 2009 (UTC)
  1. Yod-dropping: On unstressed syllables, it's more prevalent, right? Again in Australian english, manufacture becomes "nə" rather than "nju". Is this a case of yod-dropping or something else again?

Anyway, I didn't see either of those things there. Not an expert, so would prefer someone else to address them if relevant. Stevage 17:25, 16 April 2009 (UTC)

Just a comment, that would actually be zj > ʒ since the "s" in resume is voiced for all dialects (as far as I'm aware of). — Ƶ§œš¹ [aɪm ˈfɻɛ̃ⁿdˡi] 20:14, 16 April 2009 (UTC)
Err, yes. Anyway I've made the changes I suggested, got someone to check them for me. Stevage 04:40, 28 April 2009 (UTC)

Yod-dropping section[edit]

The article appears to imply that yod-dropping is universal or near universal in General American. However, my impression listening to the news in the U.S. is that a reasonably large proportion of journalists (who in other respects are GA speakers) do not drop yods, larger than would be suggested by the map anyway. I myself am a yod-keeper, but I'm Canadian, hence not a speaker of GA.

I don't know if you can simply deduce from the map that yod-keeping is not an option in GA. It may be a phenomenon something like RP in Britain, in the sense that you can't point to a decent-sized geographic area in England where RP speakers are in the majority, yet the accent is very prominent in the media.

I think that Canadian and American yod-keepers should be given a fuller description. In particular, the environments in which North Americans keep yods are not the same as for Britons. North Americans seldom pronounce lewd the way Britons do, and generally drop yods after s and z as well (except in a few words like assume and resume). On the other hand, North American yod-keepers do not drop yods after n, d, t and th.

In particular, I would question the assertion in the article that a significant number of Southerners in the U.S. pronounce lute the way Britons do. This is quite a different matter from dew/do.

I don't have a reference for this at the moment, but I seem to remember that the environments in which North Americans keep yods are mentioned in the front matter in Merriam-Webster dictionaries, of which I don't have any available. One would expect some of this information, as well as information about the extent of yod-dropping in Canada, to be available in the Atlas of North American English too, but unfortunately I don't have access to that either.

It would be good if someone could check the sources to verify whether the assertions in the article are overstatements. (talk) 22:36, 30 March 2010 (UTC)

Prince-prints merger[edit]

I don't think I've seen this one cover'd in any of the dozens of pages on English. Namely, words like fence, lance, prince, Vincent appear to alternate between /ns/ in some dialects and /nts/ in others. I'm not even sure if it's actually a merger from /ns/ to /nts/, or perhaps a retention from the original French in this particular context? since I've seen nothing hinting at affrication in plurals of /n/-final words. --Trɔpʏliʊmblah 22:16, 20 May 2010 (UTC)

I believe it's a form of intrusive consonant where an epinthetical [t] is inserted between the [n] and [s]. — Ƶ§œš¹ [aɪm ˈfɹ̠ˤʷɛ̃ɾ̃ˡi] 00:09, 21 May 2010 (UTC)
Note that the plurals of /n/-final words end in /nz/, not /ns/. But there are definitely dialects where tense and tents are homophones. +Angr 06:47, 21 May 2010 (UTC)
Wells (1970) describes it as avoidance of the sequence /ns/ by way of epenthesizing /t/ (yes, he uses slashes) and says it's rare in most of Northern England and Wales though some Northern Englanders merge prince and prints because they omit the /t/ from /nts/ (that is, both prince and prints are /prɪns/. This sort of thing also occurs with other nasal+fricative clusters like Humphrey, Thomson, lunch, and lens. Should we include this in the article? — Ƶ§œš¹ [aɪm ˈfɹ̠ˤʷɛ̃ɾ̃ˡi] 03:05, 31 May 2010 (UTC)

Whole-hole merger...[edit]

... should actually be called otherwise, since there was never any [hw] in the first word, as can be seen in any etymological dictionary. (talk) 23:19, 9 September 2010 (UTC)

I agree. e.g. 'whale-wail'; 'which-witch'; 'what-watt'; 'where-wear'; 'why-y'...? Ceartas 22:42, 9 January 2011 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by Ceartas (talkcontribs)
That's the whine-wine merger, which is different. 89.231 is talking about the change of /hw/ to /h/ before certain rounded vowels, as in who. Spelling can trip you up, though, because some words where wh is pronounced /h/ have always been pronounced with /h/, and were spelled with h, not hw in Old English. Examples include whole < OE hāl and whore < OE hore. —Angr (talk) 21:06, 12 January 2011 (UTC)

yod-coalescence and palatalization[edit]

Are yod-coalescence and palatalization related? --Unnecessary stuff (talk) 18:02, 17 November 2010 (UTC)

Palatalization is a fairly ambiguous term. You could call yod-coalescence a form of palatalization, depending on what it means. — Ƶ§œš¹ [aɪm ˈfɹ̠ˤʷɛ̃ɾ̃ˡi] 18:12, 17 November 2010 (UTC)

C + w[edit]

I'm curious about onsets with a consonant followed by [w]. In modern English, we have [tw, dw, kw, θw, sw] natively. [gw] is ok, but it's rare and may not be native. [hw] is native, but now lost in many dialects. Some folks have borrowed [pw, bw, vw, zw, mw, nw] but perhaps not everyone can pronounce these perfectly. [skw] is really rare – is it not native? [stw] is supposed to be a real phonotactic gap: it's pronounceable but just unattested. We can have onset [w] followed by a rounded vowel (woo, wood, whoa). But, I don't think we ever have [C + w + rounded vowel] even if this sequence was attested historically (sword, two).

It would be nice to know where these patterns come from. Why do we have [tw, sw] but not [pw, zw]? Is this inherited from Proto-Indo-European? Anyway, I need to look this up, but maybe someone already knows about this? – ishwar  (speak) 02:27, 16 April 2011 (UTC)

Yeah, understanding why there are certain phonotactic "gaps" would be a nice expansion of the phonotactics section, and make it more than just a list. Your assessment of what is or might be non-native is strange to me. /gw/ is rare, though it seems pretty native to me (Gwen is a pretty common name), and there are plenty of words that start with /skw/ (squabble, squad, squall, squander, square, squash, squat, squaw... and those are just the a's). — Ƶ§œš¹ [aɪm ˈfɹ̠ˤʷɛ̃ɾ̃ˡi] 03:47, 16 April 2011 (UTC)
How many /gw/ words are not from Welsh? —Tamfang (talk) 05:28, 16 April 2011 (UTC)
Oh, I don't know what I was thinking about [skw]. It doesn't seem that odd, does it? (Maybe I was confusing it with [skl]?)
Anyway, let's give it a count for fun. According to the CMU pronouncing dictionary version 0.7, there are 74 words that begin with [skw]. (This is type count, not a token count.) And, for comparison:
[k] 9340
[sk] 684
[kw] 467
[gw] 85
[ʃl] 81
[ʒ] 75
[ð] 65
[ʃm] 63
[dw] 42
[spl] 34
[gj] 31
[bw] 23
[sf] 15
[skl] 4
[vw] 3
Perhaps, we can say that [skw] is uncommon like [ʒ].
Sorry, I didn't define my native. I meant not inherited from Proto-Germanic. But, you're right: in the sense of sounds like English = native (whatever this intuition means), [gw] is fairly English-like.
There may be some token frequency effects here, too. Although [gw] is fine. The words starting with [gw] don't really jump out – except for Gwen. This is unlike [skw], in which case, they easily come to mind. And, maybe this is because these [skw] are commonly used.
ishwar  (speak) 14:43, 16 April 2011 (UTC)
The lack of [pw bw fw vw mw] in English is pretty easily explainable, I think, though they do occur in loanwords like pueblo, bwana, Tierra del Fuego, and mwami. The lack of [zw] is probably due to the nonnativeness of initial [z] anyway.
The lack of native (= inherited from Proto-Germanic) [gw] is due to the fact that PIE *gʷh became *b in Proto-Germanic, rather than *gw as might have been expected (since *kw > *hw and *gw > *kw by Grimm's Law). If *gʷh had become *gw, English would have several natively inherited words starting with [gw], including gwid "bid", gwead "bead", gwane "bane", and gwern "burn".
As for C+[w]+rounded vowel, we do have quote (and quota, quotation etc.), swoon, sward, thwart, and at least one possible pronunciation of toward. I think some people pronounce quart, quarter, and quarry with [kw], but I pronounce them all with [k].
You haven't mentioned [ʃw], which doesn't occur in native words but does occur in anglicized pronunciations of words and names borrowed from German and Yiddish, like Schwinn and Schwartz.
What are the 3 words that CMU gives for [vw]? I can't think of any. Does voilà count as an English word? —Angr (talk) 08:05, 17 April 2011 (UTC)
 ?! I've never heard quart, quarter, quarry without /w/. Is your quart homophonous with cart or court, or neither? —Tamfang (talk) 09:15, 17 April 2011 (UTC)
Homophonous with "court". I know I'm not the only one to do this, because I heard the word "quarry" spoken before I saw it written, and based on the pronunciation I heard, I thought it was spelled "corey". I was about 9 at the time. —Angr (talk) 10:08, 17 April 2011 (UTC)
I'll mention in passing that in California Spanish the quarter dollar is often called cora. —Tamfang (talk) 17:01, 17 April 2011 (UTC)
@Angr. Thanks for the note about [gw]. I forgot about these quart, quota, swoon, sward, thwart examples. They are curious exceptions.
I think I may have heard the [kw] => [k] reduction before, but I'm not sure.
The schw onset strikes me as being in a foreign-ish lexical strata. And, if there is a constraint against this sequence, it's not very strong... They dont seem very hard to say (in comparison, for example, to [tl], which is clearly out).
The [vw] words in CMU dict are voila, voir, Voisey. I'm kind of skeptical that voir is really in English. Voisey is a name, and names are weird. Voisey has an alternate form: [vojse]. I really dont know how to define English word. It seems sort of gradient. Maybe using corpus frequency? A lot of people know voila, but probably most know it's not from English even if they dont know it's French. Also, anecdotally, I know some people pronounce voila without the cluster using a simple [w] onset instead.
Yeah, I think there might be weak constraint against [labial][labial]. It was apparently strong enough to change [pw] to [p] in Puerto Rico (at least historically in the US) but not strong enough to do that to bueno. pueblo has both forms with cluster or with singleton. Isn't there some masturbation slang fwap? ( I'm too old to know if anyone actually says this term. I wouldnt have expected a coinage with a [fw] onset.
So, it is the case that all initial voiced fricatives are borrowings (leaving aside the voicing in function words them, these, etc.)? This makes me wonder about the minority British dialects that have the initial fricative voicing sound change: do the clusters undergo the process as well (e.g., [sw] => [zw])?
A general ignorance question: are all fricative + [w] clusters from [Cw] in PIE or Proto-Germanic? Or is this [w] from a vocalic sound change? (Or, both?) (And, is this answer on wikipedia already?)
ishwar  (speak) 19:24, 23 April 2011 (UTC)
Maybe the phonotactic constraint explains why there's also fap, which means the same thing as fwap. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Aeusoes1 (talkcontribs) 20:02, 23 April 2011
"Curious exceptions"? I'd call them damning counterexamples illustrating that English has no constraint against consonant + [w] + rounded vowel. I don't think words starting that way are any rarer than words starting with [w] + rounded vowel not preceded by a consonant. I just thought of another example: swore, though I vaguely remember reading somewhere that it was only morphological leveling with present-tense swear that kept the [w] in swore from disappearing like the [w] in sword did.
Voir alone isn't really English, but voir dire is; that's probably why it's in CMUPD.
I had never heard fwap, only fap, but fwap wouldn't surprise me too much as it's onomatopoetic, and onomatopoeias are even more likely to have weird phonology than names are.
Almost all words with initial voiced fricatives are loanwords in English; the only exceptions I know of are vane, vat, and vixen (< Old English fanu, fæt, fyxen, cf. German Fahne, Fass, Füchsin), which are apparently dialect borrowings from one of the dialects of southwest England you mentioned where all initial fricatives become voiced (the "Zomerzet zider" dialects). I have no idea whether those dialects also voiced [sw] to [zw], but I don't see why they wouldn't. Dutch, which did the same thing, also did it to [sw] (e.g. zwart 'black', cf. Old English sweart and German schwarz).
Ish, I'm not sure I understand your last question. In native words, English [w] is always from Old English w, which is either from Proto-Germanic *w < PIE *w, or from the second part of PGmc *hw, kw < PIE *, . In PIE, w was the nonsyllabic allophone of /u/. For example, the w in English swine started life as the nonsyllabic allophone of the vowel of sow (sow < *suH; swine < *suH-īno-). —Angr (talk) 15:27, 24 April 2011 (UTC)
Old English w can also be from PIE *gʷʰ, word-internally at least, though dwine/dwindle is the only example I can think of where this has actually been proposed to happen in a word-initial Cw cluster (as Proto-Germanic *dwīne/a- has been proposed to be a verb with nasal suffix from PIE *dʰgʷʰei- "to perish"). Just for the sake of accuracy. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 05:36, 27 June 2011 (UTC)

t-dropping before plosives[edit]

I haven't seen this particular phenomena addressed yet. (If it has please direct me).

I've noticed (I live in the Pacific Northwest) that quite often final /t/'s are left off of -st words usually when the next word starts with a plosive (though sometimes even with other consonants)

example: "the best part" becomes "ðə ˈbɛs paɹʔ"

Duckgum (talk) 00:25, 22 April 2011 (UTC)Duckgum

Yod coalescence in stressed syllables[edit]

In my experience, I have found that the pronunciation of "dew" as /ˈdʒuː/ is far more widespread than the article says. It is not limited to South East-based accents; I think most British accents do it. The most obvious example is "tune", where /ˈtuːn/ to most British people sounds American. As well as this, many British people find fun in the pronunciation of "stupid", which I believe is the same sort of thing. Unfortunately, I can't think of how you could get evidence for this. N4m3 (talk) 19:28, 8 November 2011 (UTC)

Yod-dropping after velars in unstressed syllables in Southern U.S.[edit]

I am certain I have heard "accurate" pronounced /ˈækɝǝt/, and I think I've heard this phenomenon in other words. Yod-dropping afer non-coronals is only mentioned in connection with East Anglia, but I have heard this example from Southerners (e.g. Mike Gundy). (suoı̣ʇnqı̣ɹʇuoɔ · ʞlɐʇ) nɯnuı̣ɥԀ 20:54, 30 May 2014 (UTC)

Yod-coalescence in initialisms[edit]

Speaking of Mike Gundy :-)... Many people in Oklahoma call his school "OʃU" /oʊ ɛʃ ju/. I think this is a form of heterosyllabic yod-coalescence which does not result in elimination of the yod. (suoı̣ʇnqı̣ɹʇuoɔ · ʞlɐʇ) nɯnuı̣ɥԀ 21:26, 30 May 2014 (UTC)

Yod-coalescence across word boundaries is very common in virtually all dialects of English; that's where things like gotcha come from. If you can find a source for this and the yod-dropping in accurate you mentioned in the previous thread, go right ahead and add them. Angr (talk) 10:01, 31 May 2014 (UTC)
I think what's different about my example is that the syllable is stressed—a case in which the yod would be dropped if there wasn't a word boundary. And as I mentioned, the [s]→[ʃ] change does not eliminate the yod. I was kind of hoping someone else might have a source :-(. (suoı̣ʇnqı̣ɹʇuoɔ · ʞlɐʇ) nɯnuı̣ɥԀ 19:57, 3 June 2014 (UTC)


The reduction of /hw/ to /h/ is the replacement of /hw/ with /h/ ...
The merger of /hw/ and /w/ is the merger of /hw/ (spelled wh) with /w/.

No kidding. Are such tautologies helpful? Would this be worse?

/hw/ was replaced with /h/ before the vowels /oː/ and /uː/ in Old English.

Tamfang (talk) 07:09, 28 September 2014 (UTC)

Phonetic vs phonemic notation[edit]

I'm no expert in this but I note that some examples are shown in phonetic notation with brackets [.] and some with in phonemic notation with slashes /.../. Should they not all be phonetic? Even if it is not academically significant, consistency would be an improvement! --Norman Paterson (talk) 02:10, 19 December 2014 (UTC)

I think both phonemic and phonetic notation have to be used here in different cases. Phonemic is appropriate for specifying the environment where sound change happens, and phonetic for the result of the sound change — though the two aren't used consistently this way in the article and I could be wrong. — Eru·tuon 02:43, 19 December 2014 (UTC)

My audio file.[edit]

An audio file that I recorded was added here by another user. The file demonstrates the difference between "oo/ou" and "ew/ue" word pronunciation in dialects that retain the distinction.

As these sounds are usually merged in other dialects, to the point where many young people use /ɪu/ for /u/ in all positions, those either without discerning ears or lacking in the merger themselves should not expect to hear much of a difference at all between the words in the audio file.

I just wanted to make that clear, in case someone decides to storm in later and say "I HEAR NO DIFFERENCE THUS THERE IS NONE".

The best advice I can give to those that possess a merger of the sounds is that, if you happen to pronounce "ooh" and "eww" differently, think of that when you listen to the sound clip.

If even the words "ooh" and "eww" are merged for you, on the other hand, then you will probably hear no difference at all no matter how hard you try.

I don't know why the user asked me to record my pronunciation (note: my local dialect does not have the merger) of "you" and "yew", rather than, for instance "do" and "dew", which probably would have been more audible even if you possess the merger.

If someone would like me to record an audio file that shows the (more clearer) distinction between "do" and "dew", please let me know. Tharthandorf Aquanashi (talk) 22:10, 22 February 2015 (UTC)

It's the other way around - in most places, /uː/ is used in place of /ɪu/. At least that's what Wells 1982 says. — Peter238 (v̥ɪˑzɪʔ mɑˑɪ̯ tˢʰoˑk̚ pʰɛˑɪ̯d̥ʒ̊) 22:38, 22 February 2015 (UTC)
Yeah, that's what I said. I suggested that the fronted ooh used by most speakers ([u̟] or [ʊ̟]) could sound like [ɪʊ] to Tharthan.
Oh, and I would certainly like more examples, Tharthan, since audio illustrations would be helpful in many cases. Any examples of contrasts given in the text could be recorded. To be honest, I also wish you would re-record the other example, so that each word is pronounced with the same pitch pattern (high-low). — Eru·tuon 22:46, 22 February 2015 (UTC)
It's a bit of a pain recording umpty samples, and I have already recorded and uploaded two "you-yew distinction" audio clips. I don't plan on recording them any further. Sorry.
I would be open to recording the difference between, for instance, "do" and "due", or "choose" and "chews", however. Though not at this moment, because I need to do other things.
Also, I am only referring to the very young people in my region. Furthermore, another fellow from my region that I spoke with on Wiktionary also referred to his pronunciation of /u/ words as /ɪu/. In addition, I have heard such merged pronunciations stressed as well, to something like /ɪ:uwə/. As such, I am relatively sure that, at least as far as narrow transcription goes /ɪu/ is a fair indicator of what I hear from the extremely young people in my area. Tharthandorf Aquanashi (talk) 23:10, 22 February 2015 (UTC)
Perhaps, then, there is dialectal variation in how historical /uː/ is pronounced, with some dialects having a fronted vowel and some having a diphthong. I'm not sure if I've heard the diphthong myself, but I can't discount your and others' phonetic judgement. Are there any soundfiles that exemplify this diphthongal pronunciation? — Eru·tuon 23:17, 22 February 2015 (UTC)
I see, but in the last message, you're mistaking phonemic slashes with phonetic brackets. Even if we stick to the official IPA, you can represent phonemes any way you like - so a transcription /ɐː/ for /uː/ is, at least theoretically, perfectly fine. In practice, most people (including articles on Wikipedia) stick to the agreed upon systems, such as those from Wells 1982, or the revised one of Cruttenden 2014. Phonemes are like archives which contain files (phonetic realizations of phonemes), so that e.g. the archive /uː/ in the folder "accent of your area" contains files [uː, ɪu, ɪ:uwə] and what not. — Peter238 (v̥ɪˑzɪʔ mɑˑɪ̯ tˢʰoˑk̚ pʰɛˑɪ̯d̥ʒ̊) 23:28, 22 February 2015 (UTC)
Estuary English, Cockney and New Zealand English (and probably dozens more) alternate freely between monophthongal and diphthongal /uː/. — Peter238 (v̥ɪˑzɪʔ mɑˑɪ̯ tˢʰoˑk̚ pʰɛˑɪ̯d̥ʒ̊) 23:28, 22 February 2015 (UTC)
There was an edit conflict when I tried posting this message, so let me say this @Peter238:: I am well aware of the difference between broad and narrow transcription. I prefer to use broad transcription for good reason, and only use narrow transcription when I need to make something absolutely clear.
In any case, @Erutuon::
I don't have any off-hand, but I need to say something...
I'm not a fan of going into stark discussions about narrow transcriptions of vowels, because I am a firm believer that my ears should be able to do their jobs filtering the speeches of others so that they don't sound alien to me. My mind is nit-picky, as well as broody, and I don't wish to give it any more fodder for nit-picking and brooding. This has nothing to do with you, it has to do with me.
Nevertheless, I would be happy to record an audio file with "do" and "dew", as well as "choose" and "chews" tomorrow after I get home from classes. Tharthandorf Aquanashi (talk) 23:36, 22 February 2015 (UTC)
The broad - narrow dichotomy applies to phonetic transcription, and I was talking about the difference between phonemic and phonetic transcriptions, which is a different thing, as I explained above. — Peter238 (v̥ɪˑzɪʔ mɑˑɪ̯ tˢʰoˑk̚ pʰɛˑɪ̯d̥ʒ̊) 23:39, 22 February 2015 (UTC)
I understand the nitpickiness to some degree, since I'm a perfectionist (hence my criticism of your soundfile). The question of the phonetic realization of the merged vowel is only of secondary interest; my primary interest here is in the question of the phonetic realization of the phonemic distinction between the vowels of you and yew and related words. I'm guessing that the phonetic distinction is diminished for you and yew, because of the /j/ before the vowel, but greater for words like do and dew. I will appreciate hearing dodew and choosechews whenever you can get to recording them. — Eru·tuon 23:52, 22 February 2015 (UTC)
Indeed. As I said before (on your talk page), the exact realisation of /ɪu/ is dependant upon what consonant proceeds it. Like, as also aforesaid, "rue" is more of a [ɹɪ̯uw] than a /ɹɪu/. Perhaps "yew" is similarly [jɪ̯uw] rather than /jɪu/. Tharthandorf Aquanashi (talk) 00:02, 23 February 2015 (UTC)

I have an explanation for why I can't hear the difference between you and yew. It's likely due to the vowel formants of the respective vowels: front [i] or central [ɨ] have a higher F₂ than back [u]. Thus, the quality difference between [jʊˑ] and [jɪʊ̯] is signaled by a longer duration of high pitch in the latter, because front sounds, the palatal consonant and front vowel, last longer in the latter and they have a higher second formant. My brain interprets the high pitch not as vowel quality, but as intonation. Thus I hear [jʊˑ] as a syllable with short high pitch and then a long falling pitch [j́ùù], and I hear [jɪʊ̯] as a syllable with long high pitch and then a short falling pitch [j́ɪ́ʊ̯̀], rather than a set of front sounds and then a back sound. Thus, your recording is most likely accurate, but my brain is inaccurate. — Eru·tuon 00:13, 23 February 2015 (UTC)

That's quite possible. Tharthandorf Aquanashi (talk) 00:20, 23 February 2015 (UTC)

Traditional terminology for sound changes[edit]

Several terms used on this page are somewhat misleading. Calling wh, hl, hr, and hn clusters, and saying that the diphthong sometimes spelled ue or ew has the consonant /j/, are phonetically or phonologically inaccurate. Historically, these "clusters with h" would have been pronounced as voiceless sonorants, at least immediately before they merged with voiced sonorants — earlier they may indeed have been clusters like /xw xr/ — and the vowel that is pronounced, or has recently been pronounced, as /juː/ in cute or chew was historically a diphthong like /iu̯/, as shown by its pronunciation in dialects that retain it (like Tharthan's and Welsh English) and its historical development in some cases from a diphthong like eo /eo̯/ in Old English ċēowan.

Thus, properly speaking, so-called "reduction of a cluster", like wh to w or h and hr to r, is really voicing of a voiceless sonorant, and loss of /j/ in chew is development of a vowel into a semivowel and then deletion of the semivowel. Noting what these "reductions" and "droppings" involved historically would be better, since development [w̥] or [hʷ] > [w] or [h] is more phonologically intelligible, an example of two kinds of lenition and dissimilation; and the reduction of /eo̯/ to /iu̯/ to /juː/ to /uː/ is a process of fortition and then elision.

Not sure if these processes are described this way in sources, though. The traditional terminology of "reduction" and "dropping" and "coalescence" has usefulness in describing orthographic changes (the dropping of the letter h) and immediate phonetic changes (the final stage of the change of diphthong to single vowel). Maybe not everyone finds it as misleading as I do. — Eru·tuon 06:41, 25 February 2015 (UTC)

I should make something clear that I seem to have failed to make clear earlier. Only "eu", "ew", "ue" (as well as a few other nonce spellings used for the sound in some words) are pronounced /ɪu/ in my dialect (save in "few", "avenue", "pew", "phew", "cue", "imbue", "hue", "curfew", "adieu", "mew", "ewe", "argue", "hew", "queue", "skew" and "spew", where the vowel is instead /jɪu/). Words spelt with "u(consonant)e", "oo" and the like are pronounced with /u/ (save in "cute", "acute", "mute", "refute", "Hugh" where the vowel is /ju/). So, for instance, "duke" does not have /ɪu/ in my dialect; it is "/duk/. Nor does "lute", which is /lut/. Tharthandorf Aquanashi (talk) 16:44, 25 February 2015 (UTC)
Interesting: it sounds like your dialect is transitional between diphthong, semivowel-vowel sequence, and yod-dropping.
I discovered more information on these diphthongs. Phonological history of English diphthongs § Late Middle English lists the diphthongs /ɪu ɛu/, § Late sixteenth century mentions merger of /ɛu/ with /ɪu/, and § Late seventeenth century the change of /ɪu/ to /juː/. The spellings listed in the Middle English section show that all cases of ue, ew, eu, eau, and u_e, after the 16th century merger, were pronounced with /ɪu/. I wonder if it would be OR to add this information to this article as background; in most cases yod-dropping and yod-coalescence happen to these former diphthongs, although it occurs to me that tion /sjən/ > /ʃən/ is an exception. — Eru·tuon 22:23, 25 February 2015 (UTC)
Isn't /ɛu/ close to the pronunciation upper middle class Southern British English speakers use for /o/? Lower middle class and low class use /əʊ/, but I've heard /ɛʊ/ or something similar from the more higher class speakers. Tharthandorf Aquanashi (talk) 14:22, 26 February 2015 (UTC)
Yes. And in fact, ou was pronounced [əʊ] early in the Great Vowel Shift, perhaps during the time of Shakespeare, so at least two historical vowels have sounded like modern oh. But since modern /əʊ/ was pronounced differently when these other vowels existed, maybe as [ɔː], [ɔu], or [oː], it didn't merge with them. — Eru·tuon 21:13, 26 February 2015 (UTC)
Here's what Wells (1982:294) has to say about the [ɛʊ] realization of /əʊ/ in RP:
"For a time it seemed as if the fronting of the first element of /əʊ/ was continuing beyond [ɜ] towards [ë̞ ~ ɛ̝̈]. This [ɛʊ] type enjoys some popularity among U-RP and even mainstream RP speakers born between the First and Second World Wars; but it is now widely considered 'affected', and has ceased to be fashionable among younger speakers." In other accents, it has been reported as a possible realization of /əʊ/ in Scouse (see Watson (2007)) and Cultivated South African English (see Lass (2002:118).) — Peter238 (v̥ɪˑzɪʔ mɑˑɪ̯ tˢʰoˑk̚ pʰɛˑɪ̯d̥ʒ̊) 22:01, 26 February 2015 (UTC)
Hmm, that's quite right. I've heard that pronunciation of oh mocked before. Does Wells have anything on yod-dropping and the historical diphthong [ɪʊ]? — Eru·tuon 23:41, 26 February 2015 (UTC)
Well, of course. He talks about /ɪʊ/ e.g. in chapter 5.1, which is about Welsh English. Yod-dropping is mentioned numerous times as well, e.g. in 6.1 GenAm revisited or 6.2 Canada. Check out AoE (all three parts) on Google Books. Or better yet, send me an e-mail. GB is a good search engine, but it's not so good when it comes to viewing books. — Peter238 (v̥ɪˑzɪʔ mɑˑɪ̯ tˢʰoˑk̚ pʰɛˑɪ̯d̥ʒ̊) 23:57, 26 February 2015 (UTC)

To go back to my original topic, I think the topics of /hw hj hr/, etc. should be moved to a separate page, with a title that does not imply that these were actually consonant clusters. It could be titled Phonological history of English /h/, or something like that. H-dropping could be easily added. It would be ideal to add gh as well, but perhaps readers would be confused if that were included in an article about /h/. If so, we would need a different title.

Similarly, it would make sense to create a separate article about yod-related stuff, since historically speaking many of the words that supposedly lost yod actually had a diphthong /iu/, which only sometimes developed into the sequence /juː/, and did not necessarily have a consonant cluster. I'm not sure what such an article would best be titled. Titling it Phonological history of English /j/ would be slightly misleading, just like our current situation. — Eru·tuon 06:02, 27 February 2015 (UTC)