IPA phoneme /w/
In English, both in Received Pronunciation and in General American, the IPA phonetic symbol /w/ corresponds to the semivowel sound in words like "world", "week" and "water". See also IPA phonetic symbol [w].
Some common words which practice the pronunciation of /w/ include the following
- "wa" or "wha"
- other: we - wear - week - well - wife - will - win - wish - with - woman - wonder - word - work - world - worry - would
- "w" at the beginning of a syllable: always - award - aware - Delaware - forward - framework - Hawaii /həˈwaɪiː, həˈwɑːiː/ - network - otherwise - reward - software - Taiwan
- "w" in the middle of a syllable: between - Dwight - Gwendolyn - Swede - Sweden - sweet - swim - swing - Swiss - Switzerland - switch - tweet - twice - Twitter
See also Wikipedia Pronunciation of English ⟨wh⟩.
Currently in most accents "wh" is pronounced /w/. However in some accents this digraph is pronounced /hw/. In some of those accents "wh" is a single sound, transcribed as [ʍ].
- other: wheel - when - where - whether - which - while - whisper - white - why
- "wh" at the beginning of a syllable: anywhere - everywhere - meanwhile
- with "g": distinguish - guacamole - Guam - Guatemala - iguana - language - linguistics - Managua - Nicaragua - Paraguay - penguin - Uruguay
- with "q": consequence - equipment - quality - quarter - question - quick - quite - request - require
- with "s": persuade - suite
- with "h": chihuahua /tʃɪˈwɑːwəBrE, tʃɪˈwɑːwɑːAmE/
- with "j": marijuana /ˌmærəˈwɑːnə/ - San Juan /ˌsæn ˈwɑːn/
- other: Buenos Aires - Ecuador - Kuala Lumpur /ˈkwɑːlə lʊmˈpʊər/ - Puerto Rico - Venezuela
- Ouagadougou /ˌwɑːgəˈduːguː/
- ouija /ˈwiːdʒə/
- quinoa /ˈkiːnwɑː/
/w/ not written
- one - once
- choir /ˈkwaɪər/
- one - won; sweet - suite; wait - weight; waste - waist; ware - wear - where; way - weigh; which - witch; why - Y; wood - would;
Many words that have "w" in their spelling don't have /w/ in their pronunciation. This in some cases means there are subtle differences in syllabification. For example "power" is /ˈpaʊ.ər/ and not.
- power: /ˈpaʊər/
- throwing: /ˈθrəʊɪŋ/
- jewel: /ˈdʒuːəl/. In this case there is not a /w/ phoneme; however the /uː/ is pronounced as [uw] by most people. This means that a very common pronunciation is [ˈdʒuw.əl].
Oddity: Rwanda /ruːˈɑːndə, ruːˈændə/
Anticipated pronunciation difficulties depending on L1
Preconceived ideas and other interferences from L1 obviously interfere in many cases with how students perceive - and pronounce - sounds/words in English. The following section aims to point out some of the most typical difficulties teachers and students may encounter regarding pronunciation.
In Spanish there is no contrast between /w and /gw/ (to be fair in English there is very little). Therefore some Spanish speakers will insert a /g/ sound before /w/: "water" pronounced as *. Others will drop the /g/ in words like "language": /ˈlæŋwɪdʒ/ instead of /ˈlæŋgwɪdʒ/. Dropping the /g/ in this case can be regarded as a variant pronunciation rather than a pronunciation error.