a as in want

halt

malt

quad

quaff

quash

salt

scald

squab

squad

squash

squat

swab

swamp

swan

swap

swash

swat

swatch

wad

waft

Wal

Walt

wan

wand

want

was

wash

wasp

watch

alter

diamante

equality

flambe

Malta

petanque

quadrangle

quadrant

quadruped

quadruple

quagga

qualify

quality

quantify

quantity

quantum

quarantine

quarrel

quarry

restaurant

scallop

squabble

squadron

squalid

squalor

squander

squatter

swaddle

swashbuckling

swastika

twaddle

waddle

waffle

Wagga

wallaby

wallet

wallop

wallow

wander

wanton

warrant

warren

warrior

wattle

what

wigwam

wrath

yacht

 

5 thoughts on “a as in want

  1. Tali

    Hi, I notice that all these words have the ‘w’ sound before the a except for halt, malt, scald, salt. Is there a reason for these words spelt this way? Is it to do with the letter L changing how it sounds, similar to the words like ‘all’ and (also) talk?

    Reply
    1. alison Post author

      Hi Tali, yes, the semivowel consonant sound /w/ messes with this vowel’s spelling, and with a couple of others (ar as in war, warm, wardrobe and or as in work, worm, worst). The semivowel /l/ does the same thing in wall, fall, ball, and I guess in salt, malt etc. Most funny spelling stuff like this relates to changes in pronunciation over time, particularly as a result of the Great Vowel Shift. The spellings we have today reflect pronunciations from the past. The last couple of episodes of the History Of English podcast are about the Great Vowel Shift, but I don’t remember the salt, halt, malt spelling getting a mention, it might. Here’s the podcast link, highly recommended: https://historyofenglishpodcast.com. There is also a delightful little YouTube video that lets you listen to how Queen Elizabeth I’s pronunciation differed from Queen Elizabeth IIs here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3fvmcnRhTP8. Again I don’t think malt, salt etc specifically get a mention but you get the general idea, pronunciation is always changing but spelling is less flexible. You can look these words up in an etymology dictionary and that might shed more light too, though we can’t go back in time and actually hear how words were pronounced so a lot of the linguistics detective work draws conclusions about speech from what was written at the time. All the best, Alison

      Reply
  2. Jody Martin

    Absolutely love your site. It is my go to planning my intervention lessons. Love that it is Australian also. We definitely say all that list with the /o/ sound. I heard a speechy calling them w influenced vowels?

    Reply

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