Anonymous asks:

Do you know why “wh” is pronounced like “f” in Maori? Is it an evolution in the language that happened since it was first transcribed with the Latin alphabet? Did linguists think they were hearing something else?

You know, I’ve wondered that myself, but I actually have no idea.  As I understand it, the sound was originally supposed to be a bilabial and not a labiodental like an English f, but when that sound turns up in other languages it normally gets transcribed as f or ph, so I’m not sure what made the Pakeha linguists decide to write it as wh.  I gather the pronunciation varies a lot between dialects, and probably sounds quite different in modern Maori than it did in the early 19th century.

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