October 12, 2009

'Ell 'As No Fury

My eldest and I are currently in an annuniciation argument, if you will. It started with something that occurred this morning.

I let the construction guy in this morning as I was off to work when he said to me, "Bou, what grout are you using?"

Me: Grout?

Him: Grout.

Me: Sh--.

Him: I need it by 2:00.

Me: Dang...

How is it that my husband and I planned everything to the nth, yet we forgot we'd need grout? How is that? And he and I have even tiled before... we've together done a whole house and a kitchen!

So off I went to get grout, my picking a color called Summer Wheat. It's a darker brown than our tile and should hide dirt easily.

I picked up my son, he got in the car, looked at the samples and said, 'What color did you pick?"

To which I replied, "Summer Wheat."

I pronounce the 'h'. It's Whheat, although that is slightly exagerated. My Wh's have almost a light airy sound to them.

My son says 'weet'.

And this is when the argument started.

Ringo: Mom, the H is silent.

Me: No. It's whhheat. You say weet, like a bird is tweeting.

Ringo: Mom, ONLY Big Daddy (TGOO) pronounces the H's. You and Big.

Me: Please. Pronounce Where. (I say Whhhere.)

Ringo: It's wear.

Me: See, you have NO distinction between Whhhere you are going and whhhat you are wearing. You are wrong.

Ringo: I'm going to eliminate the H from your speech. You're wrong. And Aunt Mo sometimes pronounces the H, but only when she is mimicking you or Big. Those H's are SILENT.

Me: Fine. I will poll my readers...

To which his reply was, "Right. They're probably all over 40 and pronounce it like you do..." as if this is an age thing.

I do believe it is regional.

So dear readers, do you hear the H when you pronounce words such as wheat, when, where? Or are you pronouncing them weet, wen, and wear?

Inquiring minds want to know.

And if you think you pronounce your H, let me know, from what (whhat) area of the country do you reside... or did you learn to speak? Perhaps this is more of a Southern thing...

BTW, the title to this is in reference to the thought my son thinks I should be banned from all 'H's', not that I'm pissed off. Not right now... anyway.

Update: TGOO and Jerry found the proper way to write what I've been trying to convey, 'hw'. Why I never thought to look in the dictionary is beyond me...

Posted by Boudicca at October 12, 2009 05:44 PM

Who, what, where, when, why & WHEAT!

Did you see the "Barney Miller" with the witness

protection idiot that got arrested while under

protection?? The US Marshall assigned to him

said "If you mess up 1 more time I'm sending you to Kansas! Do you know whats in Kansas?? WHEAT!"

I'm from Oklahoma where WHEAT is grown!

Posted by: Sine Nomine at October 12, 2009 06:41 PM

Ummm, I pronounce the h's. I grew up on the Jersey shore but have been down here in sofla for 20 years. Its interesting you say this...my kid was born in Jersey, but she grew up down here...she says it like your son. No h's.

I still have a pretty thick Jersey accent. Get busted on it all the time for sayin Caufee (coffee).

Posted by: peedee at October 12, 2009 06:41 PM

I don't pronounce the H. ;)

Posted by: Pam at October 12, 2009 06:51 PM

No pronouncing of the H here in Australia .... :P

Posted by: Amanda at October 12, 2009 07:16 PM

I don't pronounce the "h" - learned English at Rockville MD but then grew up in France :-) [Where 'h' is definitely silent!]

Posted by: Sue Hannum at October 12, 2009 07:39 PM

I don't pronounce the H either. From Cleveland, OH, and over 50 yrs old.

Posted by: Mary at October 12, 2009 07:45 PM

I say weet, wen, and wear. No H's are pronounced in Chicago...

Posted by: Cristi at October 12, 2009 07:50 PM

I don't pronounce the H in those words. But I think it's a regional thing mostly (I'm from the West Coast). But it may be sort of an age thing too. I don't hear many young people enunciating anything too clearly these days!

But one thing I've noticed over the years, is that more people are dropping the H in words like "history" and "human". And of course, there is the ever flip~flopping over whether to pronounce the H in "herbs". Oy....those things truly drive me nuts!

And how many of the younger generation even know that "ho" is slang for "whore"?

Oy....don't even get me started!

Posted by: DogsDontPurr at October 12, 2009 07:52 PM

No H's. I've never heard anyone pronounce the h's...and now I'm going to have to call you soon to hear you do it.

Posted by: Sissy at October 12, 2009 08:31 PM

No h pronounced here. I live in central IL.

Posted by: Kim at October 12, 2009 08:59 PM

Wheat - with an "Aitch."

I am from Jackson MS - lived here all my life. Wheat, wheat, wheat...

Posted by: Jay Stribling at October 12, 2009 09:04 PM

I've been seriously over analyzing this tonight. I have wondered if it is also from teaching my children to spell? Did I start pronouncing the H more so my children could hear it during spelling tests?

But I think I've always pronounced the H... it feels more... right? Hunh. Whooppeee! It gets the H as well.

Posted by: Bou at October 12, 2009 10:00 PM

Looks like my Dad found that it can be pronounced either way: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wheat

He grew up in the deep south. I grew up all over, with my high school years in the south. I don't know...

Posted by: Bou at October 12, 2009 10:06 PM

Dogs- are you living in Houston? The have a suburb the call "umble" and it's spelled Humble. May of them drop Hs- I noticed when I lived there. I think Stewie from Family Guy pronounces the h's.

Posted by: Morrigan at October 12, 2009 10:07 PM

This Texas born boy, now west coast, pronounces the h but understands that those inferior do not. But I tend to pronounce things the way I want to, rather than slavishly imitating fashion.

Posted by: Carl Brannen at October 12, 2009 10:08 PM

Don't pronounce the H's. I'm from St. Louis where there is an r in wash (warsh), altho' I broke myself of that when I was a teenager. As you know I'm 62 (soon to be 63), but I'm not as old as Jimbo.

Posted by: Denny at October 12, 2009 10:29 PM

I pronounce the Hs, I think. I don't really listen to myself. Grew up a hillbilly in West Virginia.

Posted by: LeeAnn at October 12, 2009 10:31 PM

No "h" for me either and from the Midwest of course. LOL

I'm guessing you get the pronunciation from your dad.

Posted by: Teresa at October 12, 2009 10:43 PM

If you mean wheat pronounced as "hweet" then yes, I pronounce the H. Here's a whole lesson on "wh":


Posted by: Jerry in Indiana at October 13, 2009 12:27 AM

Bou: LOL! Get the "h" out of here! I grew up in the Midwest (Nebraska), though I have lived most of my life in Wa(r)shington ;). I pronounce the "h" (and never the r!).

My husband has a speech habit that bugs me, though. It's the "-ese" on the end of words like Portuguese, Chinese, etc. He says it with an "s" sound rather than a "z" sound .... Chi -niece! I don't know why, but it bothers me! He grew up in California, but like me has been in Washington now, most of his life. Have you ever noticed anyone else who pronounces that ending like this?

Posted by: PeggyU at October 13, 2009 12:29 AM

Mo- I don't know who Stewie is, but I suspect that was not a compliment!

Jerry- That is a better way of writing it 'hw'. Funny... because I don't think my Mom pronounces the H and she is from Ohio.

Peggy- I'm going to listen for it now!

I am wondering now how much of this is based on... who taught you to read. We mostly learn to read in school and I wonder if this is more of a basis of our speech patterns from practicing spelling words and reading out loud, as opposed to home.

I mean, look at Mo and me. I do, she does not, and I'm waiting for TN to weigh in here. (Weigh as in WAY!)

Most everyone, with the exception of Peedee and Jerry (NJ and IN) are from more of a southern state... OK, TX, etc. (My husband is from Jersey... No H.)

Posted by: Bou at October 13, 2009 05:52 AM

i've been in Wisconsin or Minnesota my whole life, but get this:

in regular speech, no h.
in choir, hw!

which may start influencing my regular speech patterns.

Posted by: amelie at October 13, 2009 07:27 AM

Thats what you get for raising your younguns around yankees.


Posted by: recondo32 at October 13, 2009 08:29 AM

Look at Rick....still bitterb after all these years. We won the war! Get over it! lmao.

Posted by: peedee at October 13, 2009 09:02 AM

Usually no H in those words - and I'm pretty south, but don't really have the typical accent. People are always puzzled as to where I might be from. Now my sisters? They have as heavy a southern, clipped word accent as any redneck could ask for. Go figure.

Posted by: patti at October 13, 2009 09:26 AM

ALWAYS ALWAYS pronounce the H. And I have no idea what your commenters are talking about an "hw" sound. The H sound definitely comes AFTER the W sound. Just like it's spelled, BY THE WAY.

No. I don't have any strong opinions on this. ha ha!

Posted by: kay at October 13, 2009 10:15 AM

According to Schumann-Heink and his study"Insomnia in the age of Sandoku" the H in wheat is definitely silent. Clinical studies indicate that certain patients who actually used the H were later found unconscious due to traces of increased carbon inhalation. This clearly shows a link between the silent H and global warming. The author of the study suggests that the use of H in the word WHEAT should be restricted to those who support the cap and trade legislation. When you use the letter H in wheat a polar baby bear dies.

Posted by: frank at October 13, 2009 10:29 AM

I don't pronounce the H in "Where" but according you YOU I have a thick accent :)

Posted by: Graumagus at October 13, 2009 11:29 AM

The correct pronunciation of "wheat" - as with most words that have the "wh" phoneme in English - is "hweet." Don't ask me hwy that is.

[A notable exception is the word "whore," which is pronounced "hore" or (in the Northeast) "hoor."]

The "h" is barely pronounced, but it should be there. Most of us, of course, don't bother to include it in our everyday speech... but how else can you distinguish between "weather" and "whether"?

Posted by: Elisson at October 13, 2009 11:41 AM

And SWMBO confirms it. In phonics classes, students are taught to pronounce "wh" as "hw." The "w" by itself has no sound; it is simply a position of the mouth. Any sound that letter makes is from a vowel or an "h" that follows it.

Posted by: Elisson at October 13, 2009 11:45 AM

Elisson- That may lend itself to another question... who learned how to read whole word vs. phonetically could come into play as well. I learned phonetically, plus it does appear to be regional.

Frank- I have evidently slaughtered entire families of polar bears!

Posted by: Bou at October 13, 2009 12:19 PM

It depends who I am speaking to. When speaking to my mom or my son or someone I fancy to be of a better class than I, I pronounce the h. ;)

Posted by: oddybobo at October 13, 2009 01:18 PM

Stage speak. People in the back of the house need to know what you're saying.

Posted by: Toluca Nole at October 13, 2009 02:28 PM

Wheat is a family name in our tree. Definitely 'WH'.

From my mother the Texas-born English teacher (who lived in Minnesota for over 50 years) who was a sticlker for proper speech. As a theater director, though, she knew when it was right to be wrong. ;)

"Improper pronunciation and diction are sure signs of a lacking education." - Mom

Posted by: Deen at October 13, 2009 03:06 PM

Since the "h" comes after the "w" it would seem that to pronounce it "Hweat" would be incorrect.
however, since I am from the other side of the pond, "Two countries seperated by the same language", I don't suppose my opinion will count.
I guess it can be pronounced either way.

Posted by: bx19 at October 13, 2009 03:26 PM

Definitely pronounce the h's. I am from central Ohio originally.

Posted by: dick at October 13, 2009 04:15 PM

TN- Maybe I say it so that my kids can tell what in the heck I'm saying? Stage speak? It gives my freaking and saying, "WHAT?!" a whole new tone.

H for you or not? Do you fall on the side of Mom and Mo or Dad and me? I can't remember...

Posted by: Bou at October 13, 2009 09:23 PM

No H's here either.

From your readers it looks like for the most part people north of the mason-dixon don't pronounce the h's.

If the h's bother you, you shound try hanging around Canadians and their u's where there should be none.

Posted by: Quality Weenie at October 14, 2009 08:43 AM

You could probably also devote a whole post to the way people pronounce words like "February," "jewelry," and "Wednesday." There's the way most people pronounce 'em in everyday speech, and then there's the "correct" way - which can sound affected, depending on where you are and with whom you are speaking.

I can guarantee that most schoolkids are not even taught how to pronounce some of these words correctly. But that's no surprise in a world in which radio personalities regularly pronounce "negotiate" as ne-GO-see-ate... as though they were trying to sound French.

Posted by: Elisson at October 14, 2009 11:11 AM

I definitely pronounce the 'H' :) Loving all of the pithy comments!!

Posted by: Richmond at October 14, 2009 03:28 PM

Holy crap, Elisson... you know my next post! Wednesday! Did you talk to Mo?

Posted by: bou at October 14, 2009 04:16 PM

I dont pronounce the h in those words. raised in the finger lakes region of western NY.

Posted by: Cindy at October 14, 2009 08:45 PM

Okay, that was fascinating, particularly the link Jerry gave to "history of wh" in wikipedia.

Posted by: Carl Brannen at October 14, 2009 11:34 PM