The loss of /hw/ in English in words like where and wheat is virtually complete in contemporary North American English, though /hw/ has lingered in Ontario, Canada. For vernacular speech from Almonte and Parry Sound, we analyze the decline of /hw/ in apparent time among individuals born from 1880s to the 1950s. We place these observations within the field of language obsolescence and suggest that Parry Sound and Almonte are examples of intermediate isolation, less profound than is typical in studies of dialect loss. Almonte retains /hw/ much longer than Parry Sound; this pattern parallels the greater share of /hw/-ful Scots and Irish speakers in Almonte’s early immigration, and accords with Parry Sound’s increased outside contact due to a rising tourism industry. Both communities uniformly exhibit more /hw/ in content words than function words as the feature recedes, to total absence for speakers born in the 1950s. This pattern corroborates the idea that “even linguistic features on the verge of extinction… will continue to retain diachronic patterns in systematic linguistic conditioning” (Jones & Tagliamonte, 2004).

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