Many people drop the "w" from words like "dwarf," changing the pronunciation from /dwɔrf/ to /dɔrf/. This has led to the re-spelling "dorf" being used in some informal contexts, e.g. "Dorf Fort."
My question is not just about this one word, though. This change seems to be part of a broader sound change that is currently in progress where "w" is sometimes dropped when preceded by a consonant and followed by the sound /ɔr/. Another example is "quarter" /kwɔrtər/ being pronounced as /kɔrtər/. (See these threads from the American Dialect Society mailing list: /kw/~/k/, quarter, and this one from alt.usage.english: Quarter). I know there are several older sound changes that caused /w/ to drop in similar positions in the past, such as in "two" and "sword," but I'm asking specifically about the most recent sound change, which affects words that have pronunciations with /w/ listed in modern dictionaries.
I have this sound change, but only optionally and only in some words. I can pronounce "dwarf" as /dwɔrf/ or /dɔrf/, and "quarter" as /kwɔrtər/ or /kɔrtər/, but I can only pronounce "thwart" as /θwɔrt/, not as /θɔrt/. I'm trying to figure out why this difference exists.
This sound change seems to be recent and currently in progress, so I also wanted to learn where it exists. Some sources seem to indicate that it mainly occurs in North American accents. For example, the Oxford English dictionary entry for "dwarf" gives the British pronunciation as /dwɔːf/, and the U.S. pronunciation as /d(w)ɔrf/. However, the author of the alt.usage.english post I referenced above describes hearing the pronunciation "KOR-ter" for "quarter" from a BBC reporter, who I would assume was British. So I'm really not sure! Does anyone know more about this sound change, where it is most common, and what words it tends to affect?
I think it's more common with words like "quarter" than with words like "dwarf," so it seems I chose a bad example with my original title. However, for the disbelievers, I have looked up Youtube videos that contain this pronunciation of "dwarf":
- LOTRO Classes - Classes of LOTRO, see 3:04, 4:25, 5:30
- Minecraft Mod Showcase: More Player Models!, see 0:29
- Lords of Uberdark - Lords of Uberdark Alpha 40 - More Dorfs! - VerbalProcessing
Not a lot, I know. So if you think this pronunciation doesn't exist, just focus on "quarter" and other words with /kw/.