How is 'wl-' pronounced at the beginning of a word?
Of course, you just don't pronounce it at all, because there is no English word that begins that way and if there were, well, that's just not English there can't be any. Also, even though there are many possible arbitrary consonant sequences, some that just aren't in English words are naturally pronounceable (they just happen not to have any words with them). But 'wl-' just ain't one of them.
Except Oxford Dictionaries (makers of the Oxford Living Dictionaries, (not the OED)), just this morning posted a blog entry about the wonderful world of legitimate English words beginning with 'wl-'..
- 'wlonk' - proud ('wlench' a verb for 'to make proud')
- 'wlisp' - basically a variant of 'lisp'
- 'wlat' - nauseous, loathsome
The difficulty is how to pronounce them in Modern English. Or for that matter in Old English. All the 'wl-' words, (as attested by the OED) are called obsolete, no one uses them nowadays, and looking at all the histories none were used past Middle English (after 1400s).
Is it analogous to 'wr-' where more recently the 'w' is dropped, but in older times there was an actual accepted natural way to utter these things?
Is the 'w' followed by a schwa? Or does it naturally glide liquidly to the 'l'?
The etymologies of all these words (in OED) is pretty sparse. They give connections to Old Dutch and Old Low German, but few hints. I was hoping for some cognates that are pronounceable in the other languages so that sound changes could predict the OE. Under the etymology for 'lisp', it gives "from late Old English awlyspian". But none of the other words has anything similar, so there is no corroborating evidence on a suggestion of how to pronounce it.
Frankly this feels like Russians saying 'Pskov', a cruel trick on foreigners to send them to the tongue doctor or be laughed at.
So, how is 'wl- intended to be pronounced in MSE, ME, OE, West Germanic, anything at all? Is there any definitive evidence (well beyond idle speculation)?