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⟨wh⟩

From Teflpedia
A whale.

⟨wh⟩ is an English consonant digraph formed of the letters W and H.

⟨wh⟩ forms the start of wh- words, but not all words beginning ⟨wh⟩ are wh- words (this is a grammatical term), nor do all wh-words begin with ⟨wh⟩— how has had its ⟨wh⟩ mutated to ⟨h⟩. ⟨wh⟩ generally represents a voiced labio-velar approximant /w/ but can also represent an unvoiced glottal fricative /h/. A common non-standard pronunciation following the ᴡɪɴᴇ–ᴡʜɪɴᴇ split sees ⟨wh⟩ pronounced as an unvoiced labialised velar approximant. In Maori, commonly used for place names in New Zealand, ⟨wh⟩ represents /f/.


Table[edit | edit source]

Phoneme Example words Notes
/w/ whack, whale, what, wham, whammy, wharf, wheat, wheedle, wheel, wheeze, whelk, whelp, when, whenever, whence, where, wherever, wherry, whet, whether, whey, Whig, which, whiff, whiffle, white, while, whilst, whim, whimper, whimsical, whimsy, whine, whinge, whinny, whisker, whiskey, whisky, whisper, whip, whipper-snapper, whippet, whirl, whir, whirr, whisk, whist, whistle, whit, white, whither, whitlow, Whitsun, whittle, Whitworth, whizz, whoa, whomp, whoopee, whoops, whoosh, whortleberry, whop, whump, why, why, whyever, whydah This is the default; words in this group can be subject to the wine–whine split.
/h/ who, whom, whose, whole (adv, wholly, and compounds such as wholesome).

Less common words include whore, whooping (as in whooping cough, whooping crane), whooper (as in whooper swan)

These have to be learnt as sightwords.

Across syllable boundaries[edit | edit source]

⟨wh⟩ can also occur across syllable boundaries, in which case it is not a digraph. For example, knowhow is a compound of know+how.