Difference between revisions of "Cot-caught merger"

From Teflpedia
(/ɑːr/ or /ɔːr/: Better links)
(/ɑːr/ or /ɔːr/: Cambridge Dictonaries)
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''See [[Pronunciation exercises: "orV" and "orrV"]]''
 
''See [[Pronunciation exercises: "orV" and "orrV"]]''
  
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/sorry 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>
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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/#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/sorry 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> Cambridge Dictonaries (“US” label) only agree in three words,<ref>[http://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/british/borrow Cambridge Dictionaries Online - British English]. We don't reference the American English section, because an unmerged accent is reported there.</ref> marked with <sup>(*)</sup>.
  
*borrow - morrow (shortening of "tomorrow") - sorrow - sorry - tomorrow  
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*borrow<sup>(*)</sup> - morrow<sup>(*)</sup> (shortening of "tomorrow") - sorrow - sorry - tomorrow<sup>(*)</sup>
  
 
The following words (and probably others) are pronounced with /ɑː/ by some speakers and with /ɔː/ by others.<ref>[http://www.learnersdictionary.com/definition/orange Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary]. Note that when this dictionary writes /or/ Teflpedia writes /ɔːr/.</ref>
 
The following words (and probably others) are pronounced with /ɑː/ by some speakers and with /ɔː/ by others.<ref>[http://www.learnersdictionary.com/definition/orange Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary]. Note that when this dictionary writes /or/ Teflpedia writes /ɔːr/.</ref>

Revision as of 17:36, 15 May 2015

In many parts of North America (about half the United States and all of Canada)[1] /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/: north, force.

This accent is so prevalent that it is used in Merriam Webster Learner's Dictionary and in 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 /ɔː/.[2] For example "astronaut" pronounced as /ˈæstrəˌnɑːt/[3] instead of /ˈæstrəˌnɔːt/.

Other names for this merger (better for those who have it) are "LOT - THOUGHT merger" or "PALM - LOT - THOUGHT 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 "LOT - THOUGHT merger" and "PALM - LOT - THOUGHT merger" are different concepts.

Sample word Merriam Webster's
Learner's Dictionary
Cambridge Dictionaries
British English - US
Cambridge Dictionaries
American English
Most American Dictionaries
(if they use IPA)
Teflpedia
palm, father /ɑː/ /ɑː/ /ɑ/ /ɑ/ /ɑː/
start /ɑɚ/ /ɑːr/ /ɑr/ /ɑr/ /ɑːr/
safari /ɑr/ /ɑːr/ /ɑr/ /ɑr/ /ɑːr/
lot /ɑː/ /ɑː/ /ɑ/ /ɑ/ /ɒ/
sorry /ɑr/ /ɔː/ /ɑr, ɔr/ /ɑr/ /ɒr/
borrow /ɑr/ /ɑː/ /ɑr, ɔr/ /ɑr/ /ɒr/
thought /ɑː/ /ɑː/ /ɔ/ /ɔ/ /ɔː/
cloth /ɑː/ /ɑː/ /ɔ/ /ɔ/ */ or /ɒBrE, ɔːAmE/
north /oɚ/ /ɔːr/ /ɔr/ /ɔr/ /ɔːr/
moral /or/ /ɔːr/ /ɔr, ɑr/ /ɔːr/ /ɔːr/
force /oɚ/ /ɔːr/ /ɔr, oʊr/ /ɔr/ and sometimes /oʊr/ /ɔːr/
glory /or/ /ɔːr/ /ɔr, oʊr/ /ɔr/ and sometimes /oʊr/ /ɔːr/

Sometimes we mark the CLOTH vowel with an asterisk, as follows:

*: These words are pronounced with /ɔː/ in General American.
Homophones

The cot-caught merger generates very few homophones.

  • bot (computer program; shortening of robot) - bought; collar - caller; cot - caught; don (put clothes on)/Don (nickname of Donald) - dawn/Dawn; stock - stalk;

/ɑː/ in the PALM - LOT - THOUGHT merger

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.

ɑː

start /stɑːrt/

ɑː

palm /pɑːm/

ɑː

thought /θɑːt/

ɑː

lot /lɑːt/

American
dictionaries

ɑ

lot /lɑt/

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/).

Common words

Some common words which practice the pronunciation of /ɑː/ include the following:

  • with "a": father - iguana - llama - piñata - wad - wander - want - wash - wasp - watch
  • with "al": almost - already - alter - always - false - salt
"al" as /ɑː/: calm - chalk - palm - talk - walk
  • 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 - water
  • with "o": Boston - chocolate - cloth - cost - follow - gone - got - hot - job - long - lost - lot - not - office - on - possible - probably - problem - song - strong - stop - wrong
  • with "oa": abroad - broad
  • with "ough": ought - thought
past tense and past participle: bought - brought - fought - sought - thought
  • 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
past tense and past participle: caught - taught
  • /ɑː/ or /ʌ/: what
  • others: heart - cough
  • homophones: bomb - balm; caller - collar; knot - not;

/ɑːr/ or /ɔːr/

See Pronunciation exercises: "orV" and "orrV"

The following five words are pronounced with /ɑː/ in this accent.[4][5] Cambridge Dictonaries (“US” label) only agree in three words,[6] marked with (*).

  • borrow(*) - morrow(*) (shortening of "tomorrow") - sorrow - sorry - tomorrow(*)

The following words (and probably others) are pronounced with /ɑː/ by some speakers and with /ɔː/ by others.[7]

  • Florida - orange

Anticipated pronunciation difficulties depending on L1

Spanish

In Latin America American English is taught (the United Kingdom is far away). Spanish speakers tend to pronounce /ɑː/ according to the spelling. They will pronounce "palm" as [pam] and "lot" as *[lot].

See also

References

  1. William Labov,The Organization of Dialect Diversity in North America, The o/oh merger [i.e. The /ɑː - ɔː/ merger].
  2. JeffinNYC in Antimoon Forum, "cot" and "caught", page 1, June 22, 2010
  3. Random House Dictionary in Dictionary.com, astronaut.
  4. Wikipedia, English-language vowel changes before historic /r/ § Historic "short o" before intervocalic R. Retreived 14 May 2015.
  5. 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/.
  6. Cambridge Dictionaries Online - British English. We don't reference the American English section, because an unmerged accent is reported there.
  7. Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary. Note that when this dictionary writes /or/ Teflpedia writes /ɔːr/.

External links

References