The distribution of /w/ and /ʍ/ in Scottish Standard English

Li, Zeyu; Gut, Ulrike

Research article (journal)


The Scottish English phoneme inventory is generally claimed to have a /ʍ/-/w/ contrast, although several studies have suggested that this historical contrast is weakening for Scottish English speakers in the urban areas of Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen. Little is known about whether the /ʍ/-/w/ contrast is maintained in supraregional Scottish Standard English (SSE). This study sets out to explore, based on the phonemically transcribed ICE-Scotland corpus, the distri- bution of [ʍ] and [w] in SSE, their acoustic properties and potentially influencing social and language-internal factors. A total of 1,241 tokens were extracted from the corpus, together with a matching number of tokens, and the median of harmonicity was measured. The results show that [ʍ] and [w] produced for words beginning with are acoustically distinct from [w] produced for words beginning with . [ʍ] is relatively frequent in SSE, but most speakers use both [ʍ] and [w] interchangeably for and some never use [ʍ]. The realisation of as [ʍ] is determined by preceding phonetic context and speaker gender.

Details zur Publikation

Release year: 2022
Language in which the publication is writtenEnglish
Link to the full text: file:///C:/Users/User/Downloads/10.1515_cllt-2021-0052.pdf