So, very quick questions about phonology in GAE.

Does GAE have the [ʍ] (the 'hua') sound?
What about the (non-clustered) [x], [ʒ], or [o]?


1 Answer 1


Since GAE is a cluster of dialects with yuuuge variation, both "yes" and "no" are correct, depending on who you are. As far as I know everybody has [ʒ] in [plɛʒr̩] "pleasure", though there is some variation with the affricate in [gərɑʒ] "garage". For some people (myself) there are contrasts like [wɛɪls] "Wales" / [ʍɛɪls] "Wales"; [wɪtʃ] "witch" / [ʍɪtʃ] "which". Some people don't have the contrast.

There is a phonetic tendency to pronounce /k/ as [x] in intervocalic position after a stressed vowel (e.g. [stɪxr̩] "sticker"), but this is not a categorial change of sounds, it's a continuous weakening of the occlusion. This is probably widespread but not high frequency, so it isn't noticed much. There are a few words where I have [x] phonemically – [lɔx] "loch" (but not in "Loch Ness") and [bax] "Bach". That is, this only happens when a foreign pronuciation of a foreign word is imported into English.

As for [o], that depends on what you mean by "[o]". The only dialects that I know of with [o] are spoken in northern Minnesota. Elsewhere, the vowel in "goat" is a diphthong with the core [ɔ] as in [gɔʊt]. But some people transcribe it as [got].

  • 1
    And by _ yuuuge_, read '320 million idiolects', all different if you look closely enough.
    – jlawler
    Jun 8, 2016 at 16:37
  • I have heard [o] (and also [e]) in the Southeastern US, usually from older speakers. I haven't noticed these from younger or middle-aged speakers. Jun 9, 2016 at 3:19

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