Phoneme /ɔː/ in the PALM - LOT - THOUGHT merger

From Teflpedia
This phonetics article is adapted for an accent where /ɔː/ is always followed always by /r/, and which is present in roughly half of North America but is not General American. For General American see Phoneme /ɔː/ in General American. For British English and received pronunciation see IPA phoneme /ɔː/ and IPA phoneme /ɒ/.



foreign /ˈforən/


north /noɚθ/



north /nɔːrθ/
foreign /ˈfɔːrɪn/

IPA vowels
æ ɑː
trap father - start
dress face square
ɪ ɪə
kit fleece near
ɒ əʊ ɔː
lot goat taught
ʊ ʊə
foot goose mature
juː jʊə
cute cure
ʌ ə ɜː
strut comma nurse
price mouth choice
IPA consonants
Normal sound: /b, d, f, g, h, k, l, m, n, p, r, s, t, v, w, z/
 ʃ  ŋ
show church sing
ʒ  j 
usual judge you
θ ð s
think that see
IPA Stress
ˈ Primary stress
hotel /həʊˈtel/
ˌ Secondary stress
IPA Syllabification
. nitrate /ˈnaɪ.treɪt/, night-rate /ˈnaɪt.reɪt/

In many parts of North America (about half the United States and all of Canada)[1] /ɑː/ and /ɔː/ sound the same, as /ɑː/. See Cot-caught merger.

In this accent /ɔː/ appears only followed by /r/: north, force. This accent also has the diphthong /ɔɪ/.

Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary writes /or/ instead of /ɔːr/ before a vowel ("foreign" as /ˈforən/)[2] and it writes /oɚ/ before a consonant or at the end of the word ("north" as /noɚθ/).[3] In a broad notation it is unambiguous to go from /ɔːr/ to [or] or [oɚ]. Similarly, this dictionary writes /oɪ/ instead of /ɔɪ/.[4]

Common words[edit]

  • with "or": afford - born - cork - door - floor - fork - horse - lord - more - nor - or - pork - score - short - store - storm - sword;
  • with "oar": boar - board - oar - roar - soar;
  • with "our": court - four - pour
  • with "ar": quarter - war - warm - warn;

/ɑːr/ or /ɔːr/[edit]

See Decoding exercises: "orV" and "orrV"

The following 5 words are pronounced with /ɑː/ in this accent:[5][6]

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

The following words are pronounced with /ɔː/ by most speakers and with /ɑː/ by others.[5]

  • corridor, Florida,[7] foreign, forest, historic, horrible, orange,[8] origin, warrior


  1. William Labov,The Organization of Dialect Diversity in North America, The o/oh merger [i.e. The /ɑː - ɔː/ merger].
  2. Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary, foreign.
  3. Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary, north.
  4. Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary, choice.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Wikipedia, English-language vowel changes before historic /r/ § Mergers of /ɒr-/ and /ɔːr-/. Retreived 20 December 2016.
  6. Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary, borrow. Note that this dictionary writes /ɑː/ in "palm" and "lot", and it writes /ɑ/ in "safari". Teflpedia always uses /ɑː/.
  7. Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary, Florida. Note that when this dictionary writes /or/ Teflpedia writes /ɔːr/.
  8. Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary, orange.

See also[edit]