Approximate methods for solving the shallow water equations may lead to solutions exhibiting large fictitious, numerically-induced oscillations. The analysis of the discrete dispersion relation and modal solutions of small wavelengths provides a powerful technique for assessing the sensitivity of alternative numerical schemes to irregular data which may lead to such oscillatory numerical noise. For those schemes where phase speed vanishes at a finite wavenumber or there are multiple roots for wavenumber, oscillation modes can exist which are uncoupled from the dynamics of the problem. The discrete modal analysis approach is used here to identify two classes of spurious oscillation modes associated respectively with the two different asymptotic limits corresponding to estuarine and large scale ocean models. The analysis provides further insight into recent numerical results for models which include large spatial scales and Coriolis acceleration. ?? 1984.