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In many parts of North America (about half the United States and nearly all of Canada)<ref>William Labov,[http://babel.ling.upenn.edu/phono_atlas/ICSLP4/BW/ICSLP4BW.html The Organization of Dialect Diversity in North America], The o/oh merger [i.e. The /ɑː - ɔː/ merger].</ref><ref>Wikipedia, [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phonological_history_of_English_low_back_vowels#Cot.E2.80.93caught_merger Phonological history of English low back vowels § Cot–caught merger]. Retrieved 14 April 2016.</ref> {{nw|/ɑː/}} and {{nw|[[Phoneme /ɔː/ in General American|/ɔː/]]}} sound the same. This is in addition to the father-bother merger, where [[Phoneme /ɑː/ in General American|{{nw|/ɑː/}} and {{nw|/ɒ/}}]] sound the same. This means that ''caught'' {{nw|/ɔː/}} and ''cot'' {{nw|/ɒ/}} (also ''father'' {{nw|/ɑː/}} and ''bother'' /ɒ/) have the same stressed vowel {{nw|/ɑː/.}} In this accent {{nw|/ɔː/}} appears only followed by /r/: north, force.
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In many parts of North America (about half the United States and all of Canada)<ref>William Labov,[http://babel.ling.upenn.edu/phono_atlas/ICSLP4/BW/ICSLP4BW.html The Organization of Dialect Diversity in North America], The o/oh merger [i.e. The /ɑː - ɔː/ merger].</ref> /ɑː/ and [[Phoneme /ɔː/ in General American|/ɔː/]] sound the same. This is in addition to the father - bother merger, where [[Phoneme /ɑː/ in General American|/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/: north, force.
  
This accent (which is not [[General American]]) is so prevalent that it is used in [[Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary]] and in [http://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/british/ Cambridge Dictionaries Online for British English, US label]. Note that Cambridge Dictionaries Online list two different American pronunciations, the one in [http://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/essential-american-english/ Essential American English] doesn't have the merger.
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This accent is so prevalent that it is used in [http://www.learnersdictionary.com/ Merriam Webster Learner's Dictionary] and in [http://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/british/ Cambridge Dictionaries Online for British English, US label]. Note that Cambridge Dictionaries Online list two different American pronunciations, and only the one that is labeled US has the cot-caught merger.
  
It can be conjectured that the spread of this merger via mass media has made some particular  “modern” words to be pronounced with /ɑː/ even in dialects that have {{nw|/ɔː/.<ref>JeffinNYC in Antimoon Forum, [http://www.antimoon.com/forum/t16885.htm "cot" and "caught", page 1], June 22, 2010</ref>}} For example "astronaut" pronounced as {{nw|/ˈæstrəˌnɑːt/}}<ref>Random House Dictionary in Dictionary.com, [http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/astronaut astronaut].</ref> in addition to {{nw|/ˈæstrəˌnɔːt/.}}
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It can be conjectured that the spread of this merger via mass media has made some particular  “modern” words to be pronounced with /ɑː/ even in dialects that have /ɔː/.<ref>JeffinNYC in Antimoon Forum, [http://www.antimoon.com/forum/t16885.htm "cot" and "caught", page 1], June 22, 2010</ref> For example "astronaut" pronounced as {{nw|/ˈæstrəˌnɒt/}}<ref>Random House Dictionary in Dictionary.com, [http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/astronaut astronaut].</ref> instead of {{nw|/ˈæstrəˌnɔːt/.}}
  
 
Other names for this merger (better for those who have it) are "<small>LOT - THOUGHT</small> merger" or "<small>PALM - LOT - THOUGHT</small> merger". There is an area in the United States (in New England) where "lot" and "thought" are merged as [ɒ] but "palm"/"father" is different (as [ɑ]). This means that strictly speaking "<small>LOT - THOUGHT</small> merger" and "<small>PALM - LOT - THOUGHT</small> merger" are different concepts.
 
Other names for this merger (better for those who have it) are "<small>LOT - THOUGHT</small> merger" or "<small>PALM - LOT - THOUGHT</small> merger". There is an area in the United States (in New England) where "lot" and "thought" are merged as [ɒ] but "palm"/"father" is different (as [ɑ]). This means that strictly speaking "<small>LOT - THOUGHT</small> merger" and "<small>PALM - LOT - THOUGHT</small> merger" are different concepts.
  
The cot-caught merger is present also in Europe, but there the father-bother merger does not appear (similar to the area in New England mentioned above). The rest of this article is about the North American merge.
 
 
==Comparison of phonemes==
 
 
{|class=prettytable
 
{|class=prettytable
!Sample word
+
!Sample word!!Merriam Webster's<br>Learner's Dictionary!!Cambridge Dictionaries<br>British English - US!!Cambridge Dictionaries<br>American English!!Most American Dictionaries<br>(if they use IPA)!!Teflpedia
!Merriam Webster's<br>Learner's Dictionary<ref>[http://www.learnersdictionary.com/ Merriam Webster's Learner's Dictionary]</ref>
 
!Cambridge Dictionaries<br>English - US<ref>[http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/ Cambridge Dictionaries Online - English].</ref>
 
!Cambridge Dictionaries<br>Essential American English<ref>[http://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/essential-american-english/ Cambridge Dictionaries Online - Essential American English]</ref>
 
!Most American Dictionaries<br>(if they use IPA)<ref>See for example ''Random House Dictionary'' available in [http://www.dictionary.com/ Dictionary.com].</ref>
 
!Teflpedia
 
|-
 
|p'''a'''lm, f'''a'''ther||[ɑː]||/ɑː/||/ɑ/||/ɑ/||/ɑː/
 
|-
 
|st'''ar'''t||[ɑɚ]||/ɑːr/||/ɑr/||/ɑr/||/ɑːr/
 
|-
 
|saf'''ar'''i||[ɑr]||/ɑːr/||/ɑr/||/ɑr/||/ɑːr/
 
 
|-
 
|-
|l'''o'''t||[ɑː]||/ɑː/||/ɑ/||/ɑ/||/ɒ/
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|palm, f'''a'''ther||/ɑː/||/ɑː/||/ɑ/||/ɑ/||/ɑː/
 
|-
 
|-
|s'''orr'''y||[ɑr]||/ɔː/||/ɑr/||/ɑr/||/ɒr/
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|st'''ar'''t||/ɑɚ/||/ɑːr/||/ɑr/||/ɑr/||/ɑːr/
 
|-
 
|-
|b'''orr'''ow||[ɑr]||/ɑː/||/ɑr/||/ɑr/||/ɒr/
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|saf'''ar'''i||/ɑr/||/ɑːr/||/ɑr/||/ɑr/||/ɑːr/
 
|-
 
|-
|'''or'''ange||[ɑr, or]||/ɔr/||/ɔr, ɑr/||/ɔr/||/ɒ{{bre}}, ɔː{{ame}}/
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|lot||/ɑː/||/ɑː/||/ɑ/||/ɑ/||/ɒ/
 
|-
 
|-
|cl'''o'''th||[ɑː]||/ɑː/||/ɔ/||/ɔ/||/ɒ<sup>*</sup>/ or /ɒ{{bre}}, ɔː{{ame}}/
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|s'''orr'''y||/ɑr/||/ɔː/||/ɑr, ɔr/||/ɑr/||/ɒr/
 
|-
 
|-
|th'''ough'''t||[ɑː]||/ɑː/||/ɔ/||/ɔ/||/ɔː/
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|b'''orr'''ow||/ɑr/||/ɑː/||/ɑr, ɔr/||/ɑr/||/ɒr/
 
|-
 
|-
|l'''awy'''er||[ɑːj, oj]||/ɑː.j/|||/ɔɪ/||/ɔj, ɔɪ/||/ɔːj/
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|thought||/ɑː/||/ɑː/||/ɔ/||/ɔ/||/ɔː/
 
|-
 
|-
|ch'''oi'''ce||[oi]||/ɔɪ/||/ɔɪ/||/ɔɪ/||/ɔɪ/
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|cloth||/ɑː/||/ɑː/||/ɔ/||/ɔ/||/ɒ<sup>*</sup>/ or /ɒ{{bre}}, ɔː{{ame}}/
 
|-
 
|-
|n'''or'''th||[]||/ɔːr/||/ɔr/||/ɔr/||/ɔːr/
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|n'''or'''th||//||/ɔːr/||/ɔr/||/ɔr/||/ɔːr/
 
|-
 
|-
|m'''or'''al||[or]||/ɔːr/||/ɔr, ɑr/||/ɔːr/||/ɒ{{bre}}, ɔː{{ame}}/
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|m'''or'''al||/or/||/ɔːr/||/ɔr, ɑr/||/ɔːr/||/ɔːr/
 
|-
 
|-
|f'''or'''ce||[]||/ɔːr/||/ɔr/||/ɔr/ and sometimes /oʊr/||/ɔːr/
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|f'''or'''ce||//||/ɔːr/||/ɔr, oʊr/||/ɔr/ and sometimes /oʊr/||/ɔːr/
 
|-
 
|-
|gl'''or'''y||[or]||/ɔːr/||/ɔr/||/ɔr/ and sometimes /oʊr/||/ɔːr/
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|gl'''or'''y||/or/||/ɔːr/||/ɔr, oʊr/||/ɔr/ and sometimes /oʊr/||/ɔːr/
 
|}
 
|}
  
 
Sometimes we mark the <small>CLOTH</small> vowel with an asterisk, as follows:  
 
Sometimes we mark the <small>CLOTH</small> vowel with an asterisk, as follows:  
 
:<nowiki>*:</nowiki> These words are pronounced with /ɔː/ in [[General American]].
 
:<nowiki>*:</nowiki> These words are pronounced with /ɔː/ in [[General American]].
 
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;Homophones
==Homophones==
 
 
The cot-caught merger generates very few [[homophone]]s.
 
The cot-caught merger generates very few [[homophone]]s.
*bot (computer program; shortening of ''robot)'' - bought; collar - caller; cot - caught; don (put clothes on)/Don (nickname of Donald) - dawn/Dawn; knotty - naughty; rot - wrought; stock - stalk; tot (very young child) - taught; wok - walk;
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*bot (computer program; shortening of ''robot)'' - bought; collar - caller; cot - caught; don (put clothes on)/Don (nickname of Donald) - dawn/Dawn; stock - stalk;
 
 
The <small>PALM - LOT - THOUGHT</small> merger generates even fewer homophones.
 
*Bach ''(composer)'' - balk,{{amSp}} baulk{{brSp}}; la ''(musical note)'' - law; Ra ''(sun god)'' - raw
 
  
==Phoneme /ɑː/ in the <small>PALM - LOT - THOUGHT</small> merger==
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==/ɑː/ in the <small>PALM - LOT - THOUGHT</small> merger==
 
{{box|This [[phonetics]] article is valid in an area that includes roughly 50% of North America but is not [[General American]], the accent used in television.}}
 
{{box|This [[phonetics]] article is valid in an area that includes roughly 50% of North America but is not [[General American]], the accent used in television.}}
 
<div style="float:right;"><table><tr><td>
 
<div style="float:right;"><table><tr><td>
{{IPA symbol|ɑ|Phoneme /ɑː/ in General American|lot /lɑt/<br><br>palm /pɑm/<br>start /stɑrt/<br>sari /sɑri/|American<br>dictionaries}}
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{{IPA symbol|ɑː|Cot-caught merger|start /stɑːrt/}}
{{IPA symbol|ɑː|Cot-caught merger|lot /lɑːt/<br>thought /θɑːt/<br>palm /pɑːm/<br>start /stɑːrt/<br>sari /sɑːriː/|British<br>convention}}
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{{IPA symbol|ɑː|Cot-caught merger|palm /pɑːm/}}
 +
{{IPA symbol|ɑː|Cot-caught merger|thought /θɑːt/}}
 +
{{IPA symbol|ɑː|Cot-caught merger|lot /lɑːt/}}
 
</td></tr><tr><td>
 
</td></tr><tr><td>
{{IPA symbol|ɑ|Cot-caught merger|sari /sɑri/|MWLD<br>&nbsp;}}
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{{IPA symbol|ɑ|Phoneme /ɑː/ in General American|lot /lɑt/|American<br>dictionaries}}
{{IPA symbol|ɑɚ|Cot-caught merger|start /stɑɚt/|MWLD<br>&nbsp;}}
 
{{IPA symbol|ɑː|Cot-caught merger|lot /lɑːt/<br>tought /θɑːt/<br>palm /pɑːm/|MWLD<br>&nbsp;}}
 
 
</td></tr></table></div>
 
</td></tr></table></div>
This article is valid in an area in North America where the following words have the same phoneme vowel: "start", "palm", "spa", "lot", "thought" and "law".
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This article is valid in an area in North America where the following words have the same phoneme vowel: "start", "art", "palm", "spa", "lot", "stop", "thought" and "law".
 
 
Many people pronounce /ɑː/ and /ɑːr/ with different vowels (e.g. lodge as [lɑdʒ] and large as [lɑːrdʒ]); however since the difference is predictable there is no problem using the same symbol in both cases (e.g. /lɑːdʒ/ and /lɑːrdʒ/).  
 
  
Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary (MWLD) uses the cot-caught merger in its transcriptions. However, since it uses narrow notation, it uses three different symbols: /ɑː/ for "lot" and "lodge", /ɑɚ/ for "start" and "large" and and /ɑ/ for "sari".
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Many people pronounce /ɑː/ and /ɑːr/ with different vowels (e.g. lodge as [lɑdʒ] and large as [lɑːrdʒ]); however since the difference is predictable there is no problem using the same symbol in both cases (e.g. /lɑːdʒ/ and /lɑːrdʒ/).
  
 
==Common words==
 
==Common words==
 
Some common words which practice the pronunciation of /ɑː/ include the following:  
 
Some common words which practice the pronunciation of /ɑː/ include the following:  
* with "a": father, iguana, llama, piñata, wad, wander, want, wash, wasp, watch, water
+
* with "a": father - iguana - llama - piñata - wad - wander - want - wash - wasp - watch
:* with "al": almost, already, also, alter, always, false, salt
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:* with "al": almost - already - alter - always - false - salt
::"al" as /ɑː/: calm, chalk, palm, talk, walk
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::"al" as /ɑː/: calm - chalk - palm - talk - walk
:* with "all": ball, call, fall, hall, mall, small, wall, wallet
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:* with "all": ball - call - fall - hall - mall - small - wall - wallet
:* with "ar": are, aren't, arm, art, article, bar, car, charge, dark, department, far, farm, hard, harm, large, market, park, part, party, regard, smart, star, start, warrant, warranty
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:* with "ar": are - aren't - arm - art - article - bar - car - charge - dark - department - far - farm - hard - harm - large - market - park - part - party - regard - smart - star - start - warrant - warranty - water
*with "o": B'''o'''ston, ch'''o'''colate, cloth, cost, f'''o'''llow, gone, got, hot, job, long, lost, lot, not, off, offer, office, often, on, possible, probably, problem, process, product, shop, song, strong, stop, top, wrong
+
*with "o": B'''o'''ston - ch'''o'''colate - cloth - cost - f'''o'''llow - gone - got - hot - job - long - lost - lot - not - office - on - possible - probably - problem - song - strong - stop - wrong
* with "oa": abroad, broad
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* with "oa": abroad - broad
* with "ough": cough, ought, thought
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* with "ough": ought - thought
:past tense and past participle: bought, brought, fought, sought, thought
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:past tense and past participle: bought - brought - fought - sought - thought
* with "aw": dawn, draw, flaw, hawk, jaw, law, lawn, raw, saw, shawl, thaw, yawn
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* with "aw": dawn - flaw - hawk - jaw - law - lawn - raw - saw - shawl - thaw - yawn
* with "au": auction, August, Aussie, austerity, Australia, Austria, author, autumn, cause, clause, daughter, fault, launch, pause
+
* with "au": auction - August - Aussie - austerity - Australia - Austria - author - autumn - cause - clause - daughter - fault - launch
 
:past tense and past participle: caught - taught
 
:past tense and past participle: caught - taught
* /ɑː/ or /ʌ/: bec'''au'''se, what
+
* /ɑː/ or /ʌ/: what
* /ɑːj/ or /ɔɪ/: lawyer
+
* others: heart - cough
 
 
Spelling anomalies
 
*heart, knowledge
 
  
[[Homophones]]
+
*[[homophones]]: bomb - balm; caller - collar; knot - not;
*bomb - balm; caller - collar; knot - not;
 
  
 
==/ɑːr/ or /ɔːr/==
 
==/ɑːr/ or /ɔːr/==
''See [[Decoding exercises: "orV" and "orrV"]]''
+
''See [[Pronunciation exercises: "orV" and "orrV"]]''
  
Only the following five words are pronounced with /ɑː/ in this accent.<ref name=Wikipedia>Wikipedia, [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English-language_vowel_changes_before_historic_/r/#Mergers_of_.2F.C9.92r-.2F_and_.2F.C9.94.CB.90r-.2F English-language vowel changes before historic /r/ § Mergers of /ɒr-/ and /ɔːr-/]. Retreived 14 May 2015.</ref><ref>[http://www.learnersdictionary.com/definition/sorry Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary].</ref> Cambridge Dictonaries (“US” label) only agree in three words,<ref>[http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/british/borrow Cambridge Dictionaries Online - English]. We don't reference the American English section, because an unmerged accent is reported there.</ref> marked with <sup>(*)</sup>.
+
The following 5 words are pronounced with /ɑː/ in this accent:<ref name=Wikipedia>Wikipedia, [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English-language_vowel_changes_before_historic_/r/#Historic_.22short_o.22_before_intervocalic_R English-language vowel changes before historic /r/ § Historic "short o" before intervocalic R]. Retreived 14 May 2015.</ref><ref>[http://www.learnersdictionary.com/definition/origin Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary]. Note that this dictionary writes /ɑː/ in "palm" and "lot", and it writes /ɑ/ in "safari". Teflpedia always uses /ɑː/.</ref>
  
*borrow,<sup>(*)</sup> morrow<sup>(*)</sup> (shortening of "tomorrow"), sorrow, sorry, tomorrow<sup>(*)</sup>
+
*borrow - morrow (shortening of "tomorrow") - sorrow - sorry - tomorrow  
  
According to Wikipedia, the following words are pronounced with /ɑː/ by some speakers and with /ɔː/ by others.<ref name=Wikipedia/> Only words marked with <sup>(*)</sup> have two pronunciations in Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary; the rest have only /or/, equivalent to Teflpedia's /ɔːr/.<ref>[http://www.learnersdictionary.com/definition/orange Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary].</ref>
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The following words (and probably others) are pronounced with /ɑː/ by some speakers and with /ɔː/ by others.<ref>[http://www.learnersdictionary.com/definition/origin Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary]. Note that when this dictionary writes /or/ Teflpedia writes /ɔːr/.</ref>
  
*corridor, euphoric, foreign, forest, Florida,<sup>(*)</sup> historic, horrible, majority, minority, moral, orange,<sup>(*)</sup> Oregon, origin, porridge, priority, quarantine, quarrel, sorority, warranty, warren, warrior
+
*Florida - orange
  
 
==Anticipated pronunciation difficulties depending on L1==
 
==Anticipated pronunciation difficulties depending on L1==
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==See also==
 
==See also==
*[[Phoneme /ɔː/ in the PALM - LOT - THOUGHT merger]]
+
*[[Pronunciation]]
  
 
== References ==
 
== References ==

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