Oftentimes one can hear final l after a vowel get a vowel quality; whether this is an /u/ or /w/, I am not certain of. I have the feeling it is becoming more common today, but you can hear examples of this from earlier; in Pink Floyd’s The Wall for instance (‘Another Brick in the Wall Part II’), the children’s choir sings:

  • 1′17″ ‘controw’ (‘control’)
  • 1′55″ ‘wall’, though some of them say ‘waw’
  • 2′04″ more ‘waw’ than ‘wall’?

My question then is twofold:

  • How recent is this pronunciation of final -l following a vowel?
  • Does this pronuncation indicate L is (or is becoming) a semivowel, as Y and W? If so, why / why not?
  • 2
    From Wikipedia: In Cockney, Estuary English, New Zealand English and Australian English, l-vocalization can be accompanied by phonemic mergers of vowels before the vocalized /l/, so that real, reel and rill, which are distinct in most dialects of English, are homophones as [ɹɪw]. I don't normally enunciate "final-l" myself, and haven't done for over 60 years, so it's not exactly "recent". – FumbleFingers Apr 18 '18 at 13:28
  • 1
    Yes and isn't that trait heard in Cockney, Estuary, New Zealand and Australian English precisely because Australia and New Zealand were colonized with significan cohorts of Cockney and Estuary speakers. That would make it well established 200 years ago… – Robbie Goodwin May 5 '18 at 14:16

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.