Decoding exercises: "orV" and "orrV"

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The letter O in the sequences "orV" and "orrV" where V is any vowel, normally sounds /ɒ/ in Received Pronunciation (as in orange) but in some cases it sounds /ɔː/ (as in story) or /ə/ when unstressed (as in category). It also can be silent as in history.

In General American /ɒr/BrE sounds /ɑːr/ in only 5 words and it sounds /ɔːr/ in the rest.[1]

In regional Atlantic American English /ɒr/BrE sounds /ɑːr/, as in orange pronounced /ˈɑːrɪndʒ/.[1]

Distinctions by dialect[edit]

Dialect sorry forest glory
Received Pronunciation [ɒ] [ɒ] [ɔː]
Atlantic American English [ɑː] [ɑː] [ɔː]
General American [ɑː] [ɔː] [ɔː]
Canada [ɔː] [ɔː] [ɔː]

Common words[edit]

  • As /ɒ/,BrE /ɔː/AmE: correspond - foreign - forest - historical - majority - moral - orange - origin - priority
  • As /ɒ/,BrE /ɑː/AmE: borrow - sorry - tomorrow
  • As /ɔː/: boring - explorer - moreover - story
  • As /ə/: contemporary /kənˈtemprəriː,BrE kənˈtempərəriː/ - corporate - corporation - correct - exploration - factory - /ˈfæktəriː, fæktriː/ - history /ˈhɪstəriː, ˈhɪstriː/ - ignorant - memory - original - temporary /ˈtempərəriː, ˈtemprəriː/- terrorist - theory - victory
  • As /ʌ/ or /ɜː/: thorough /ˈθʌrə,BrE ˈθɜːroʊAmE/ - worry /ˈwʌriː,BrE ˈwɜːriːAmE/

Less common words[edit]

  • As /ɒ/,BrE /ɔː/AmE: categorical - coral - historic - horrible - horror - laboratory /ləˈbɒrətriː,BrE ˈlæbrətɔːriːAmE/ - minority - seniority
  • As /ɒ/,BrE /ɑː/AmE: morrow (shortening of "tomorrow") - sorrow
  • As /ɔː/: chlorine - choral - glory - historian - laboratory /ləˈbɒrətriː,BrE ˈlæbrətɔːriAmE/ - memorial - notorious - storage
  • As /ə/BrE or /ɔː/AmE: category - mandatory - territory /ˈterɪtəriː,BrE ˈterɪtriː,BrE ˈterətɔːriːAmE/
  • As /ə/: compulsory - forever - herbivorous

Proper nouns[edit]

  • As /ɒ/,BrE /ɔː/AmE: Boris, Dorothy, Florence, Forida, Oregon
  • As /ɔː/: Dora
  • As /ə/: Colorado, Deborah /ˈdebərə, ˈdebrə/, Korea, Morocco

Spelling rule[edit]

The sequence "orr" is pronounced /ɔː/ in Received Pronunciation only in verbs ending in "or". There is only one such a verb that appears in normal dictionaries:

  • from abhor: abhorred, abhorring

Note that "abhorrent" /əbˈhɒrənt/ is an adjective, not a verb.

Table "or" and "orr"[edit]

"or" "orr"
/ɒr/BrE /ɔːr/AmE allegorical, authority, categorical, choreography, coral, coronary, Dorothy, Florence, florist, Forida, foreign, forest, historic, historical, horizontal, horoscope, inferiority, laboratory,BrE majority, minority, moral, oracle, orange, orator, Oregon, orifice, origin, priority, rhetorical, seniority, superiority abhorrent, correlation, correspond, corridor, horrible, horror, porridge, torrent, torrid
/ɒr/BrE /ɑːr/AmE N/A borrow, morrow, sorrow, sorry, tomorrow
/ɔːr/ adorable, auditorium, boring, chlorine, choral, chorus, Dora, deplorable, Ecuadorian, editorial, euphoria, explorer, forum, glory, historian, laboratory,AmE laborious, memorial, moreover, moron, notorious, oral, oriental, porous, sanatorium, storage, story "orr" only sounds /ɔːr/ in -ing forms

These words don't rhyme[edit]

References[edit]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]