All of my life my family has pronounced wash differently. My husband has always made fun of us because we say wish. Like we are going to wish laundry or wish dishes or wish the car. We originate from West Virginia. Is there a reason we say it this way? Everyone I hear in the direct family pronounce it that way.

We have never resided in West Virginia for any long period of time because our Dad was career military. Most people who hear my accent think I am from the Midwest. I spent several years in Ohio. I don't think I can change the way I say it... it is just automatic.

Is this a known feature of any dialect where our family may have picked it up?

  • 4
    How do you pronounce wishy-washy? Commented Mar 5, 2018 at 0:23
  • I've never heard that pronunciation. I think if it were common, I probably would have heard it.
    – J. Taylor
    Commented Mar 5, 2018 at 0:26
  • Might this pronunciation be between "wish" and "wush" ?
    – J. Taylor
    Commented Mar 5, 2018 at 0:35
  • I've never heard wish for wash, but a lot of folks warsh from Southern Ohio/West Virginia all the way to Texas.
    – KarlG
    Commented Mar 5, 2018 at 0:52
  • How do you pronounce want and was?
    – Rosie F
    Commented Mar 6, 2018 at 9:43

1 Answer 1


Many older people in that region say "warsh" (with an -r),

as in "Warshington DC" or "warshing machine",

but I've never heard it pronounced wish. Are you sure you're not mis-hearing it?

Where does the intrusive R come from in “warsh”?

  • 2
    Mishearing their own pronunciation? That sounds unlikely. Commented Mar 5, 2018 at 7:46
  • Ha ha, ok, I meant maybe she misheard when she was younger and continued mispronouncing it. Anyways, I posted a link for the likely explanation in my answer.
    – malaprop
    Commented Mar 6, 2018 at 9:39
  • Since she says that her entire family pronounces it this way, it doesn’t seem likely that she misheard it. Perhaps her parents both misheard it as children, but that would seem unlikely too. The fact that a whole family of originally unrelated people pronounces it this way makes it much, much less likely that this is something one particular person misheard as a child and never corrected. Besides, /ɔ/ and /ɪ/ are very different phonemes, and mixing them up—especially in such a short and frequent word—is not likely to begin with. Commented Mar 6, 2018 at 10:31
  • The warsh phenomenon is entirely different since non-rhotic accents do actually merge /ɔ/ and /ɔr/, and the phonetic similarity between the two is quite big. That provides a much better scenario for getting phonemes mixed up. Commented Mar 6, 2018 at 10:32
  • Are you sure you don't have any South African ancestry? That sort of vowel shortening sounds a bit like the anglophone South African accent to me.
    – BoldBen
    Commented Mar 6, 2018 at 16:23

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