I have found out that the English letter 'W', as in the word "weep", is classified as a voiced labiovelar approximant. To quote Wikipedia:
Its place of articulation is labialized velar, which means it is articulated with the back part of the tongue raised toward the soft palate (the velum) while rounding the lips.
Voiced labiovelar approximant - Wikipedia
I'm surprised to find out that this sound relies on the back part of the tongue being raised towards the soft palate. The reason I find this strange is because, for example:
If a doctor tells me to open my mouth and say "ahhh" I will most likely say something like [ɑ], [ɐ] or [ʌ], all open vowels (which is good for the doctor because my tongue is as low as possible).
If I then round my lips as if I'm whistling without doing anything else I get a sound sounding like [ʊ] or [u]. These two sounds are described as being close or near-close back vowels, and according to the IPA vowel chart if you say [ɑ], and then round your lips, you get the vowel [ɒ], which is said to be the vowel sound in General American "thought". However, as I explained, if I open my mouth and make an open vowel sound and then close my lips as if whistling I get a sound much like [ʊ] or [u], which sounds nothing like the General American "thought" vowel sound.
If I then go from this rounded lips position back to the original position my doctor told me to be in I get back to the open-mouth position with the same open vowel I started off with, let's say [ɑ], [ɐ] or [ʌ].
As far as I can tell in this case I've essentially said the "wah", as in the "wah" (or "wah-wah") pedal for an electric guitar, or something close to it. My point is that I've pronounced the 'W' letter in English without my tongue being anywhere near the top of my mouth, or specifically soft palate.
Can someone explain this to me? Essentially I can (and actually might, as far as I know) pronounce the English 'W' letter without any part of it being a velar approximant which Wikipedia and the IPA information I've checked insists it is. That is, the information I've found is that English speakers pronounce it with the tongue high, close to the soft palate. However that's not particularly the case, is it?