English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

The Cockney accent typically, or at least stereotypically, drops the initial /h/ from many a word. Does it drop the initial /h/ from who, whole, whore, and whose? Wikipedia says yes, but I seek a more reliable source.

Edit to clarify: I'm seeking not anecdotal evidence or impressions but a citation to someone who's collected data, such as a linguist who's studied London speech.

share|improve this question
up vote 6 down vote accepted

The spelling (and for that matter also the etymology) is essentially irrelevant in the pronunciation of those words, and other WH- words with initial /h/. Sound changes apply to sounds, not spellings.

Hence, any lect that drops initial /h/ will drop it on these words, too. I can't tell you anything about Cockney lects in particular, but linguists have known for over a century that sound change acts with blind necessity, as the Neogrammarians put it.

share|improve this answer
Many thanks. Although my question seeks a citation to a source, I'll consider a professional of your eminence such a source himself and accept this. – msh210 Feb 1 '12 at 6:56

I suspect that who- words are pronounced with varying degrees of aspiration in all accents and that there is no consistency. Certainly, Oo you talkin’ to? or Ooz ‘ouse is that? would not be unusual in many parts of Britain.

share|improve this answer
On a different point: How freqently is "that" said as "zat" in Britain in examples like Ooz ‘ouse is that?? – jwpat7 Jan 31 '12 at 17:00
@jwpat7: I wouldn't like to say. It would require considerable research to know for sure, but I suspect a sentence like 'Is that all you have to say?' might frequently be realized as 'Izat all you have to say?' In cricket, when a batsman is perceived to be out, the appeal to the umpire has always been 'Howzat?' (How's that?') – Barrie England Jan 31 '12 at 17:37

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.