- For Teachers
Could you comment this?
were /wɜr; unstressed wər; Brit. also wɛər/
where /ʰwɛər, wɛər/
In other words, can "were" be pronounced like "where"? In what cases?
Is it an error? Or is it a matter of prescriptive/descriptive use of English?
2006: The "w" and the "wh" have different pronunciations
5jj: This is true in a number of dialects, but most speakers begin both words with the same /w/
2006: "where" is often pronounced the same as 'wear', but that is a lazy nonstandard pronunciation.
5jj: I don't think many people would agree with that opinion these days.
2006, merging "wh" and "w" is not nonstandard.
* On the were-where issue
So the standard pronunciation of were is /wɚ/ and where is /weɚ/ (using rhotic IPA). Pronouncing them the same is dialectal.The square-nurse merger is a merger of /ɜː(r)/ with /ɛə(r)/ that occurs in some accents (for example Liverpool, Dublin, and Belfast) that makes homophonous pairs such as fur/fair, spur/spare, and curd/cared.
It is possible that the merger is found in at least some varieties of African American Vernacular English.
Labov (1994) also reports such a merger in some western parts of the United States 'with a high degree of r constriction.'
* On the /w/ - /hw/ issue
Again from Wikipedia
Therefore pronouncing them differently is dialectal/characteristic of a conservative dialect.The wine-whine merger is a merger by which voiceless /hw/ is reduced to voiced /w/.
The merger is essentially complete in England, Wales, the West Indies, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa, and is widespread in the United States and Canada.
According to Labov, Ash, and Boberg (2006: 49), while there are regions of the U.S. (particularly in the Southeast) where speakers keeping the distinction are about as numerous as those having the merger, there are no regions where the preservation of the distinction is predominant. Throughout the U.S. and Canada, about 83% of respondents in the survey had the merger completely, while about 17% preserved at least some trace of the distinction.
While some RP speakers still use /hw/, most accents of England, Wales, West Indies and the southern hemisphere have only /w/.
Also as a pedantic side note, there's no such thing as /ɜr/ or /ər/ in English. There's either /ɜ:/ and /ə/ for non-rhotic dialects or /əɹ/ - /ɚ/ for rhotic ones (/ɝ/ can also be used for a stressed /ɚ/, but it's technically incorrect since /ɜ/ doesn't really exist in rhotic dialects, except for when it replaces /ʌ/)
Last edited by thatone; 20-Feb-2011 at 14:42.
Last edited by birdeen's call; 20-Feb-2011 at 19:45.
BC is correct.
As thatone showed, "pronouncing them differently is dialectal/characteristic of a conservative dialect."
I'll add another voice:
… the pronunciation is most cases is w, as in white waɪt. An alternative pronunciation, depending on regional, social and stylistic factors, is hw, thus hwait. This h pronunciation is usual in Scottish and Irish English, and decreasingly so in AmE, but not otherwise. (Among those who pronounce simple w, the pronunciation with hw tends to be considered ‘better’, and so is used by some people in formal styles only). Learners of EFL are recommended to use plain w."
Wells, J C, (2008), Longman Pronunciation Dictionary (3rd edn), Harlow: PearsonLongman.