The /Cw/ Clusters of Suzanne Sugarbaker

Just saw a Designing Women re-run the other day and picked a fun pronunciation tidbit from Suzanne Sugarbaker (the still hilarious Delta Burke). Suzanne’s character is rich, flighty and not known for her multicultural outreach, so that means her Spanish diction is not as bueno as it could be.
The one I noticed was how she pronounced the name of her housekeeper Consuela. In Spanish it should be / with a /swe/ cluster, and while most of the other English speakers could manage it, Suzanne consistently mispronounced it as / (4 syllables).
I realize this is Delta Burke is acting here, but her “miss” is interesting because it’s an example of how English is a little uncomfortable with many consonant+glide clusters. English has a few native /Cw/ clusters such as /kw/ (queen) and some /tw/’s (twin) and the repertoire has been expanding with the help of language contact to include examples such as pueblo (pw), bwana (bw), Gwen (gw), and vichysoise (sw)
But a few /Cw/ clusters still cause problems – my favorite example being Luigi which in Italian is /lwi,ǰi/ but in “American” is usually /lu.i.ǰi/. Another one is French roi ‘king’ which should be /rwa/, but usually comes out something more like a shortened /ruwa/ when I attempt it.
Apparently Suzanne Sugarbaker has similar problems with Spanish /sw/ – hence she ends up with Con-su-e-la. This is plausible since /s/ is coronal like /l,r/…but still humorous.
FYI – A more common example is how English “mangles” consonant+glide is /Cj/ (or /Cy/) to /Ci/ as in Tokyo /to.kjo/ (2 syllables) to / (3 syllables). Similarly Kyoto / becomes / and Spanish fiesta /fje.sta/ becomes /fi.e.sta/.
P.S. Why so many TV examples in the blog? I like to collect examples students may have heard before. Hopefully some of them are Designing Women fans.

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