There seems to be a camp who insist that words beginning with wh like "whale" "white" should be pronounced with a "hwuh" sound at the beginning, as if the w & h were transposed - like the way Al Gore pronounces it in that campy commercial that ran recently where he says something like "a whale is in trouble" and runs off. This sounded silly to me years ago in elementary school when a teacher tried to tell us this was "proper" and I still think it sounds affected, silly and illogical.
This runs counter to the whole idea of "sounding out" a word - the letters are pronounced in the order they're written. It's not spelled hwale, it's spelled whale.
And I still say Brett Favre pronounces his name wrong.
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There seems to be a camp who insist that words beginning with wh like "whale" "white" should be pronounced with a "hwuh" sound at the beginning, as if the w & h were transposed -

If you don't pronounce "whale" as if the w & h were transposed, how else do you pronounce it? I see only two alternatives in practice:
1. Keep w & h in order and pronounce it "wuhail"
2. Ignore the h and pronounce it "wail"

Neither of these sounds right to me.

Alec McKenzie
[email protected]
There seems to be a camp who insist that words beginning with wh like "whale" "white" should be pronounced with ... out" a word - the letters are pronounced in the order they're written. It's not spelled hwale, it's spelled whale.

The Old English originals are (with ligature and accent removed):
hwaet - what
hwaer - where
hwael - whale
It is less than a thousand years since 'hw' became 'wh'. The 'hw' pronunciation still survives.
And I still say Brett Favre pronounces his name wrong.

Peter Duncanson, UK
(in alt.english.usage)
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There seems to be a camp who insist that words ... beginning, as if the w & h were transposed -

If you don't pronounce "whale" as if the w & h were transposed, how else do you pronounce it? I ... order and pronounce it "wuhail" 2. Ignore the h and pronounce it "wail" Neither of these sounds right to me.

I think the vast majority of English speakers use your No. 2.

Peter Duncanson, UK
(in alt.english.usage)
There seems to be a camp who insist that words beginning with wh like "whale" "white" should be pronounced with ... out" a word - the letters are pronounced in the order they're written. It's not spelled hwale, it's spelled whale.

The "wh" spelling convention was developed at a time when this really was a separate sound, a voiceless "w". It can sound like "hw", just as the Welsh voiceless "l", which they write as "ll", can sound like "hl".

In some accents of English - I think in most parts of Scotland, for example - the distinction is still solid, and most people will pronounce, say "witch" and "which" differently and accept them as words with different pronunciations.
The distinction seems to have disappeared in standard British English very recently, perhaps just in the 20th century, hence it may still be heard in very fussy speech and old-fashioned teachers may still insist the "hw" pronunciation is correct. An exaggerated "hw" pronunciation may be an attempt to hang on to a usage which is disappearing by forcing an emphasis on it.
Matthew Huntbach
There seems to be a camp who insist that words beginning with wh like "whale" "white" should be pronounced with ... when a teacher tried to tell us this was "proper" and I still think it sounds affected, silly and illogical.

So, you had Miss Hennessey too?
She had us hold our hands up to our mouths while we said various words that started with either "wh" or "w" and insisted that we practice until we could feel our breath on our hands for the "wh" words, but not feel it for the plain "w" words.
This may have been the first time I realized that there'd be times in my life where I'd know a person in a position of authority was just plain nuts, and there was nothing I could do about it.
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There seems to be a camp who insist that words ... order they're written. It's not spelled hwale, it's spelled whale.

The "wh" spelling convention was developed at a time when this really was a separate sound, a voiceless "w". It ... pronunciation may be an attempt to hang on to a usage which is disappearing by forcing an emphasis on it.

This is weird. It's all news to me. Here in the States, I think I have heard very few people, if any, who don't pronounce "witch" and "which" differently.
My daughter has just finished a 3.5-year assignment in England. She lived in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, so that was my main location during visits, but I made two visits to Dumfriesshire, two to the Loch Ness area, and two to Aberdeenshire (all in Scotland) and one to southwestern England and London. In my visits there, I never noticed anyone not pronouncing the "h" in "wh" words in which it is pronounced here.
Maybe none of the people I talked with used "standard British English" pronunciation.
Bill
Reverse parts of the user name and ISP name for my e-address
The "wh" spelling convention was developed at a time when ... usage which is disappearing by forcing an emphasis on it.

This is weird. It's all news to me. Here in the States, I think I have heard very few people, ... words in which it is pronounced here. Maybe none of the people I talked with used "standard British English" pronunciation.

Car 54, wear are you? Wen in the course of human (how about the people who say "ofyuman") events. Wile I hear some people say "while", etc, without the "h" sound, I must say it is my habit to say "while, etc" with a rather pronounced "h" sound. I think there is a relatively even mixture of both pronunciations in my area.

Pat Durkin
Wisconsin (Not Whis, and certainly not Wes. Maybe more like a Wuss.)
There seems to be a camp who insist that words beginning with wh like "whale" "white" should be pronounced with a "hwuh" sound at the beginning, as if the w & h were transposed - like the way Al Gore pronounces it in that campy commercial that ran recently where he says something like "a whale is in trouble" and runs off. This sounded silly to me years ago in elementary school when a teacher tried to tell us this was "proper" and I still think it sounds affected, silly and illogical.
This is actually common speech in Appalachia, but not in much else of the rest of America. A college friend from West Virginia is the only person I've ever heard make the w/wh distinction.

Joshua Holmes - (Email Removed)
Per aspera, luctor et emergo.
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