Phoneme /ɔː/ in General American
In General American the IPA phonetic symbol /ɔː/ corresponds to the vowel sound in words like "thought" and "cloth", and also "north" and "force". Sometimes the triangular colon /ː/ is replaced by a normal colon, as in /ɔ:/. Most American dictionaries don't write the triangular colon at all: thought /θɔt/.
In a non-rhotic accent /ɔːr/ is pronounced [ɔː] unless it is followed by a vowel, i.e. when the spelling has an "r", it is normally silent unless it is followed by a vowel.
In General American the "r" in /ɔːr/ is always pronounced. Many people pronounce /ɔː/ and /ɔːr/ with different vowels (e.g. "sauce" as [sɔs] and "source" as [sors]); however since the difference is predictable there is no problem using the same symbol in both cases (e.g. /sɔːs/ and /sɔːrs/). Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary (MWLD) uses /oɚ/ for "north" and /o/ for "foreign". "Sauce" and "source" are transcribed with different vowels: /ˈsɑːs/ and /ˈsoɚs/.
There are places in the United Kingdom where /ɔːr/ is pronounced [ɔːr], and places in North America where /r/ is silent.
Some common words containing /ɔː/ include the following:
- with "o"AmE: across, along, cloth, cost, cross, dog, gone, long, loss, lost, off, offer, office, often, soft, song, strong, wrong
- with "oa": abroad, broad
- with "ough": ought, thought
- past tense and past participle: bought, brought, fought, sought, thought
- with "ou": coughAmE
- with "a": warrantAmE, warrantyAmE, water
- with "al": almost, already, also, alter, always, chalk, false, salt, talk, walk
- with "all": all, ball, call, fall, hall, mall, small, tall, wall
- with "aw": dawn, draw, flaw, hawk, jaw, law, lawn, lawyer, raw, saw, shawl, thaw, yawn
- with "au": auction, audience, August, AussieAmE, austerity, AustraliaAmE, AustriaAmE, author, autumn, cause, clause, daughter, fault, launch, pause
- past tense and past participle: caught, taught
Words marked AmE are pronounced with /ɒ/ in Received Pronunciation.
- AmE: /bɪˈkɔːz, bɪˈkʌz/
- BrE: /bɪˈkɒz, bɪˈkəz/
Some common words containing /ɔːr/ include the following:
- with "or": afford - born - cork - for - force - fork - form - horse - ignore - important - lord - morning - nor - north - or - order - pork - report - short - sport - storm - support - sword
- with "ore": adore - before - bore - core - explore - more - score - store - wore
- with "oor": door - floor
- with "oar": boar - board - oar - roar - soar
- with "our": course - court - four - pour - your
- with "ar": award - quarter - reward - war - warm - warn
Homophones: bore - boar; bored - board; or - oar - ore - Orr; soared - sword - sward
Less common words
- corp - deplore - furore - gore - implore - lore - Orr - pore - restore - port - shore - sward - torr - ward - yore
/ɔː/, /ɑː/ or /ɒ/
Note that /ɒ/ and /ɑː/ sound identically in most of North America. The following words may sound /ɔː/, /ɑː/ or (in very few locations) /ɒ/.
- Labeled /ɑː, ɔː/ in Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary (OALD)
- chocolate, on, wash
- Labeled /ɔː, ɑː/ in OALD
- across, alcohol, along, Boston,(*) long, lost, off, offer, office, often, warranty
(*) Pronunciation not available in OALD; it was taken from Random House Dictionary.
/ɔːr/, /ɑːr/ or /ɒr/
The following 5 words are pronounced with /ɑː/ in General American and with /ɒ/ or /ɔː/ in other parts of North America:
- borrow - morrow (shortening of "tomorrow") - sorrow - sorry - tomorrow
The following words are pronounced with /ɔː/ in most of North America, including the General American dialect, and with /ɑː/ or /ɒ/ in specific parts of North America:
- correspond - Florida - foreign - forest - historical - majority - moral - orange - origin - priority
Main article: Cot-caught merger
In many parts of North America (about half the United States and all of Canada) /ɑː/ and /ɔː/ sound the same. This is in addition to the father - bother merger, where /ɑː/ and /ɒ/ sound the same. This means that caught /ɔː/, cot /ɒ/, father /ɑː/ and bother /ɒ/ have all the same stressed vowel /ɑː/. In this accent /ɔː/ appears only followed by /r/, as in "north" or "force". In this accent the pronunciation of /ɔːr/ may be [or], [oər], [ɔr] or [ɔːr].
Anticipated pronunciation difficulties depending on L1
Preconceived ideas and other interferences from L1 obviously interfere in many cases with how students perceive - and pronounce - sounds/words in English. The following sections aims to point out some of the most typical difficulties teachers and students may encounter regarding pronunciation.
Many Spanish speakers will pronounce the short o sound as /ɔː/ even when it should be pronounced /ɑː/: lot as *.
- Dictionary.com, Boston.
- Wikipedia, English-language vowel changes before historic /r/ § Historic "short o" before intervocalic R. Retreived 14 May 2015.
- William Labov,The Organization of Dialect Diversity in North America, The o/oh merger [i.e. The /ɑː - ɔː/ merger].