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American English pronunciation - caught-cot merger Options
Kanon28
Posted: Wednesday, June 26, 2019 11:36:17 PM
Rank: Newbie

Joined: 6/26/2019
Posts: 2
Neurons: 10
Hi! This is my first post and I’m not sure where to ask questions on pronunciation. I hope this is the right place.

I read that many Americans pronounce caught and cot the same way. I’m wondering if there is anyone in this forum that pronounces the two words with the ɒ sound. Does that mean the vowel ɔ: is dropped entirely from your speech, or are certain words still pronounced with the ɔ: sound? I’m thinking of words with the “or” spelling like or, orange ordinary and order. How would you pronounce them - ɒr? ɒrdər?

Thank you!
palapaguy
Posted: Thursday, June 27, 2019 12:37:40 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 10/28/2013
Posts: 1,607
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Location: Calabasas, California, United States
Kanon28 wrote:
Hi! This is my first post and I’m not sure where to ask questions on pronunciation. I hope this is the right place.

I read that many Americans pronounce caught and cot the same way. I’m wondering if there is anyone in this forum that pronounces the two words with the ɒ sound. Does that mean the vowel ɔ: is dropped entirely from your speech, or are certain words still pronounced with the ɔ: sound? I’m thinking of words with the “or” spelling like or, orange ordinary and order. How would you pronounce them - ɒr? ɒrdər?

Thank you!


There are good resources online that can answer such questions. For example, "caught."

https://www.google.com/search?q=caught&oq=caught&aqs=chrome..69i57j69i60j0l4.8150j0j4&client=ubuntu&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Thursday, June 27, 2019 2:37:14 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 9/12/2011
Posts: 32,945
Neurons: 204,246
Location: Livingston, Scotland, United Kingdom
Kanon28 wrote:
Hi! This is my first post and I’m not sure where to ask questions on pronunciation. I hope this is the right place.
I read that many Americans pronounce caught and cot the same way. I’m wondering if there is anyone in this forum that pronounces the two words with the ɒ sound. Does that mean the vowel ɔ: is dropped entirely from your speech, or are certain words still pronounced with the ɔ: sound? I’m thinking of words with the “or” spelling like or, orange ordinary and order. How would you pronounce them - ɒr? ɒrdər?
Thank you!

Hello Kanon.
Welcome to the forum!
There is no specific "pronunciation" forum, so usually this is used - occasionally people ask pronunciation questions on the "grammar" forum too.

I'm English, so I can't answer for myself.
I know there are variations in American pronunciation.

I have heard Americans say both words like /kɑ:t/, /kɒt/ and /kɔ:t/.
For comparison, I say /kɒʊt/ - slightly "diphthong" like "awful".
To me, with my accent, an American saying "awesome" sounds like "arrsome" - ʊsəm/ for me, and for an American /ɑ:rsəm/

In general Americans pronounce the "r" sound more than most English people do, so they would say something like /ɔ:r/, /ɔ:rdər/, /ɔ:rdənrɪ/, whereas the normal English pronunciation is /ɔ:/, /ɔ:də/, /ɔ:dənrɪ/.
I think that some areas in the US would have a sound more like /ɑ:r/, /ɑ:rdər/, /ɑ:rdənrɪ/

Wyrd bið ful aræd - bull!
Lucie
Posted: Friday, June 28, 2019 8:48:59 AM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 7/8/2010
Posts: 87
Neurons: 395
I am American and have personally never heard another American pronounce caught like cot. I have only ever heard anyone say it like "cawt." The augh pronounced like the aw in awe or awful, as stated above by DragOnSpeaker.

I have also never heard an American insert Rs into the word awesome. People just say it like awe-some.

Americans do emphasis Rs more than people from the UK, but only in words that actually contain Rs. The exception is in a few particular regional accents in the Northeast where I have heard people insert Rs into the word wash and pronounce it like "warsh." But this is a very specific regional thing and very rare to hear.

For reference, I grew up in upstate NY, and now live in Virginia. I have friends all across the country from the midwest, to Texas, Louisiana, Washington State, Georgia, Florida etc. Have never heard caught as cot. I would be curious to know what segment of Americans uses this pronunciation.
Kanon28
Posted: Friday, June 28, 2019 10:15:46 AM
Rank: Newbie

Joined: 6/26/2019
Posts: 2
Neurons: 10
Thank you for the welcome and replies. I find it interesting to learn about different dialects of English and am fascinated by how confusing it all is. Sick I can’t help but wonder why different native English speaking countries pronounce the vowels so differently.

Lucie wrote:


For reference, I grew up in upstate NY, and now live in Virginia. I have friends all across the country from the midwest, to Texas, Louisiana, Washington State, Georgia, Florida etc. Have never heard caught as cot. I would be curious to know what segment of Americans uses this pronunciation.


I read that caught-cot merger is quite widespread, especially in western US (and Canada), though regions like NYC and the south are apparently resistant to it. I think for people who are merged, caller and collar are pronounced the same way; Dawn and Don too.
http://discovermagazine.com/sitefiles/resources/image.aspx?item={FC0AE2F0-45E7-4B55-878A-033B10363389}
FounDit
Posted: Friday, June 28, 2019 12:11:57 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 9/19/2011
Posts: 11,429
Neurons: 57,718
I agree with Lucie. I live in Texas but have roots in Appalachia, so I have a mixed accent, and can shift easily between the two. Normally, I sound a lot like Billy Bob Thornton in recordings I've heard of myself when speaking. It's a bit disconcerting.

I tend to say caught as "aw" = cawt, and cot as "caht".
Same with "caller" as "cawller" and "collar" as "cahller".
"Dawn" and "dahn" for "Don".

The difference is so slight, I doubt most folks would notice it, and especially a non-native might not hear it.


We should look to the past to learn from it, not destroy our future because of it — FounDit
Lucie
Posted: Friday, June 28, 2019 12:13:21 PM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 7/8/2010
Posts: 87
Neurons: 395
Thank you for the link to the map, that is very interesting! I will "keep my ears open" to see if I can catch anyone using this pronunciation! I have even lived in some of the blue "same pronunciation" areas on the map and never managed to hear it yet. But the number of regional dialects amongst native English speakers is indeed fascinating. I often have a hard time understanding people from certain parts of my current home state of Virginia. My New York-born brain just cannot compute d'oh!
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Saturday, June 29, 2019 4:19:41 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 9/12/2011
Posts: 32,945
Neurons: 204,246
Location: Livingston, Scotland, United Kingdom
Hello Lucie.

Sorry - I wasn't specific enough. An American "awesome" sounds like that to me because of a couple of things.
1. "Neutral American" and "neutral British" pronounce "awe", "awful", "awesome" in slightly different ways. This site has several English people and several Americans - it's quite noticeable.
2. My accent is not "neutral British" - the vowels I use are generally more 'open' (I think that's the right description). ("Book" and "look" have the same vowel as "soon" not "sun", for example.)
So I am most used to north-western English - which has a Gaelic/Celtic influence ("w" is a vowel, like a short "oo" - "Cwm" is pronounced "koom" - a valley. That's why I said that "awe" is almost a diphthong the way I speak - oh-oo - /ɒʊ/
3. The most common way we hear Americans saying "awesome" over here is in movies and TV shows - and that often means a "Valley Girl" saying "Gee! That's Awesome!" - which is definitely not "neutral American".

A combination of all these factors makes it sound, to me, that most Americans use "r" instead of "w" in some words.

If you have trouble understanding some Virginians, try a Lancastrian!Anxious

EDITED to add:

Here's the Forvo pronunciation site for "caught".
If you scroll down to the Americans, to me, "nervebrain" and "Mocha2007" both say a definite "cot", but "zeinah" says "caught". (There's even one of the Englishmen, "jamzoo" who almost says "cot".)


Wyrd bið ful aræd - bull!
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