Sunday, June 14, 2020

Big Bad Eye Glasses

Glass Eyes
I need some new glass eyes.
Why? Why,
the better to see you with,
my dear.

Must be AI's Big Bad Wolf. Note on pronunciation: The second line has two words spelled identically but pronounced differently. The first "Why" is pronounced with aspiration (hwī), and the second "Why" without aspiration ().


At 1:07 PM, Blogger Kevin Kim said...

I've always thought that the pronunciation of "wh" as "hw" was a dialectal thing—specifically, a country dialect. (I think you can hear Dr. McCoy, who's supposed to be a country doctor, pronounce "whales" as "hwales" in "Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.")

An amusing, non-country take on the "wh/hw" question is here.

I'm from the northern Virginia area, where "whale" is pronounced "wale." Same for "why."

At 1:07 PM, Blogger Kevin Kim said...

(By which I don't mean that "why" is pronounced "wale.")

At 5:36 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

The aspirated "why" always seemed to me to express an actual question, whereas the non-aspirated "why" seemed to imply a nuance of "because" and almost as if the answer were obvious, but as with many of my notions, I might be simply imagining stuff.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 3:51 AM, Blogger Kevin Kim said...

Interesting! I've never heard (or read) that before. Then again, my ignorance is boundless, so that shouldn't be surprising. Well, at least I now have a new topic to research.

At 8:16 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Your point about dialect probably identifies the answer. The meaning depends on the dialect of the speaker.

I'm probably just referencing my idiolect when I give this example:

"Why do I think the unaspirated term has a nuance of 'because'? Why, it's obvious. It stands in apposition to the independent clause that follows, It is a kind of 'placeholder' for that clause."

Or so this seems to me, but (again) this may be just my idiolect speaking.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 1:30 PM, Blogger Kevin Kim said...

A few seconds of research led me to this. The article suggests that (1) the "hw" pronunciation is arguably more traditional, (2) the "great majority" of English speakers now pronounce their "wh" words in accordance with the so-called "wine-whine merger," and (3) the "hw" pronunciation is generally associated with parts of the American Southeast (see map). Go figure.

At 4:40 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...


Jeffery Hodges

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