I know the correct pronunciation of sword. I also know that at least some blacks pronounce the w in it. (Mahalia Jackson certainly does in her marvellous rendition of the song Down By The Riverside.) As the word existed in Old English, it is highly likely that the w was commonly pronounced in those days. What I don't know is how common it actually is to pronounce the w today and whether this pronunciation is confined to African Americans only. Is the w pronounced in any American or British dialect spoken by white people as well? In New Zealand or Australia?

What about former US or British colonies in which English isn't spoken by all, such as India or the Philippines, for example? Thank you for your replies.

1 2 3 4
Comments  (Page 3) 
I was surprised, in 1953-54, to hear my fiance's grandfather pronounce the "w" in "sword." He was a poor white dirt farmer in Calhoun County, Mississippi, in the northeastern section of the state. Calhoun County is an official part of Appalachia, according to the definition of that region by the Appalachian Regional Commission. I suspect that Grandfather Mitchell's family came to Mississippi from a more eastern section of Appalachia.
African Americans aren't the only ones who pronounce words oddly. Your pronunciation of certain words depend on the area you are brought up. For instance, in the South, 'dog' is pronounced as 'dawg'. It is pronounced differently in other areas... some pronounce 'dog' as "dowg".
Students: We have free audio pronunciation exercises.
I'm from Norway and I pronounce the w in sword. I think it is a common mistake here but I'm not sure..
I didn't mean to offend anyone; it was not my intention to suggest African Americans can't pronounce correctly. I was just curious when I researched this years ago. I'd like to add now that in case of "Samurai Showdown" it might be that RZA with this idiosyncratic pronunciation wanted to make audible that "sword" contains "word": his weapon of choice.
From my experience, the pronunciation with the w is not so much a black thing as a Southern thing, at least that is how it is pronounced in the hills of Western North Carolina.
Students: Are you brave enough to let our tutors analyse your pronunciation?
It's interesting to me that people are coming on this site and professing that the way they pronounce something is a "mistake". It's just different. I embrace all of our differences. It may cause a little chuckle now and then, but realistically language is ever evolving. English, especially, has become a language spoken in so many regions by people of many backgrounds. I am certain no one speaks (or writes) the language as originally intended. While linguistic evolution is fascinating to me, I don't think it's something to dwell on or ridicule. Let's just appreciate our differences.
"I am certain no one speaks (or writes) the language as originally intended."

It was never "intended" to be spoken in any specific way. English is and has always been a mess, and that's what makes it so interesting and colourful!
Australia is more likely than anywhere to drop surplus letters (for example, our country is officially pronounced "Straahya") so there's no W in sword here.

The only person I ever hear say SW-ord is Marshall Eriksen from HIMYM. He's from Minnesota of Scandinavian descent - I'm deducing Norwegian given the "sen" rather than "son" in the surname. I believe Minnesota, in the English speaking world, is uniquely predisposed to preserving Scandinavian pronounciations - based again on TV (the pastor in King of the Hill).
Site Hint: Check out our list of pronunciation videos.
Same here. I have been living in English speaking countries for several years now (Canada, USA and Australia), and the fact that I've been pronouncing it "wrong" all these years never occurred to me - until my boyfriend teased me about how I pronounced it a few days ago, that is. When he told me the w was silent I didn't even believe him, as that sounded wrong to me. I've done my research now, and asked other people how they pronounce it, but it still sounds so wrong to say the word without the w. Of course, as soon as I discovered that the only people who pronounced it the way I do were my friends from Norway, I had to admit I was wrong. However, I don't think I'll change my pronunciation to the 'correct' one. Truly, to my ears it sounds off.
Show more