Intrusive [w]

In spoken English, the movement of the tongue between /uo͞oue/, /ʊo͝ooo/, or /ɔôaw/ and other vowels can incidentally create a [w] sound. This extra sound occurs in transition between the vowels. For example, the word hour can be pronounced with the diphthong /ɑʊowow/ and may be followed by the vowel /ɚûrur/. New hearing cuers may notice a [w] sound occuring between the two vowels. This transitional sound is referred to as instrusive [w]. It is, however, not a consonant phoneme. It is simply a byproduct caused the the sequence of vowels. One would not cue the word hour using handshape 6.

Notation

Instrusive [w] is generally shown with brackets which indicate that the sound is phonetic. This is different than the phoneme /w/, which is written between slashes.

Instruction

Understanding the difference between phonetic [w] and phonemic /www/ can be abstract and difficult to grasp. An easy approach for instructors to help students discriminate the difference is to ask them simply to take it out and see if the word changes. If one attempts to remove the [w] sound from hour, flower, power, sour, or Jewish, they will find that the sound comes back on its own. The [w] cannot be taken out of these words without inserting an unnatural pause between the two vowels that surround (and create) the transition. However, consider the /www/ in words like quit, quite, and quick. For these words the /www/ is a phoneme and an essential part of the word that must be cued. Removing the /www/ in these words will change them to kit, kite, and kick. This change helps cuers to see that the /www/ phoneme in a word like quit is fundamentally different from the [w] sound in the spoken word sour

Examples

boa, coward, flower, flowing, growing, Jewish, knowing, Noah, power, sewer, slowest, sour, tower.

See Also

hour

  • /ɑʊˈɚ/
  • /owˈur/
  • /owˈûr/
  • 5s5t5m

hour

  • /ɑʊˈɚ/
  • /owˈur/
  • /owˈûr/
  • 5s5t5m

hour

  • /ɑʊˈɚ/
  • /owˈur/
  • /owˈûr/
  • 5s5t5m

flower

  • /flɑʊˈɚ/
  • /flowˈur/
  • /flowˈûr/
  • 5s6s5t5m

power

  • /pɑʊˈɚ/
  • /powˈur/
  • /powˈûr/
  • 1s5t5m

sour

  • /sɑʊˈɚ/
  • /sowˈur/
  • /sowˈûr/
  • 3s5t5m

Jewish

  • /ʤuˈɪʃ/
  • /jueˈish/
  • /jo͞oˈĭsh/
  • 7c5t6s

quit

  • /kwɪˈt/
  • /kwiˈt/
  • /kwĭˈt/
  • 2s6t5s

quite

  • /kwɑɪˈt/
  • /kwieˈt/
  • /kwīˈt/
  • 2s6s5t5s

quick

  • /kwɪˈk/
  • /kwiˈk/
  • /kwĭˈk/
  • 2s6t2s

kit

  • /kɪˈt/
  • /kiˈt/
  • /kĭˈt/
  • 2t5s

kite

  • /kɑɪˈt/
  • /kieˈt/
  • /kīˈt/
  • 2s5t5s

kick

  • /kɪˈk/
  • /kiˈk/
  • /kĭˈk/
  • 2t2s

quit

  • /kwɪˈt/
  • /kwiˈt/
  • /kwĭˈt/
  • 2s6t5s

sour

  • /sɑʊˈɚ/
  • /sowˈur/
  • /sowˈûr/
  • 3s5t5m

boa

  • /boʊˈə/
  • /bohˈə/
  • /bōˈə/
  • 4sf5sd

coward

  • /kɑʊˈɚd/
  • /kowˈurd/
  • /kowˈûrd/
  • 2s5t5m1s

flower

  • /flɑʊˈɚ/
  • /flowˈur/
  • /flowˈûr/
  • 5s6s5t5m

flowing

  • /floʊˈɪŋ/
  • /flohˈing/
  • /flōˈĭng/
  • 5s6sf5t8s

growing

  • /groʊˈɪŋ/
  • /grohˈing/
  • /grōˈĭng/
  • 7s3sf5t8s

Jewish

  • /ʤuˈɪʃ/
  • /jueˈish/
  • /jo͞oˈĭsh/
  • 7c5t6s

knowing

  • /noʊˈɪŋ/
  • /nohˈing/
  • /nōˈĭng/
  • 4sf5t8s

Noah

  • /noʊˈə/
  • /nohˈə/
  • /nōˈə/
  • 4sf5sd

power

  • /pɑʊˈɚ/
  • /powˈur/
  • /powˈûr/
  • 1s5t5m

sewer

  • /suˈɚ/
  • /sueˈur/
  • /so͞oˈûr/
  • 3c5m

slowest

  • /sloʊˈɪst/
  • /slohˈist/
  • /slōˈĭst/
  • 3s6sf5t3s5s

sour

  • /sɑʊˈɚ/
  • /sowˈur/
  • /sowˈûr/
  • 3s5t5m

tower

  • /tɑʊˈɚ/
  • /towˈur/
  • /towˈûr/
  • 5s5t5m