Date: Mon, 22 Jul 1996 23:02:12 -0400


Subject: Re: waft and SAE

The phonetic explanations offered so far certainly capture a

generalisation, but it isn't an airtight one. A couple people note the

case of "wan" /wahn/, a literary word by me*. Larry Horn says "/waen/

is what dat cwazy wabbit did". But in at least one case of dat wabbit

wunning, i.e. the Tortoise and the Hare episode, /waen/ is what the

Tortoise did instead. [*meaning "pale"]

I'm referring to the common dialectal use of /waen/ as

preterit of "win", which I've heard in Philly and elsewhere from

working-class speakers, eg "He wan the contest", sometimes with

reg7ularization of the perfect too. A phonetic explanation of initial

w before low vowel doesn't cover this one...

I still think the only reading pronunciation, ie the only one

you would get by analogy as an American English speaker, of "waft" is

ahem, mine, ie /waeft/. Nobody's suggested an analogical basis for the

/wahft/ yet, so you'd have to get that elsewhere, eg by direct aural

evidence. Thus the reading pronunciation ought not to generate a

regional pattern, or ought to confuse one, unless there's something

regional about the word's commonness of use, which seems doubtful to