Monday, June 2, 2014

Cot vs caught - Short O and AW sounds

Hi Everyone, 


A couple of weeks ago I began to introduce the American vowels in pairs. The first pair was Sheep vs ship - Long E (EE) and Short I (IH), the second one was Cattle vs kettle - Short A (AA) and Short E (EH), and then the third one was Suit vs soot – Other OO (OO) and Other U (UH). And now I’m going to speak about the [ɑ] (Short O - AH) and the [ɔ] (AW)  sounds.

 









  
In the British English, the [ɑ] (Short O – AH) (as in cot) and the [ɔ] AW (like in caught) sounds are completely different. Take a look: cot     caught  (Oxford dictionary)
In American English, the difference is very-very slight:
cot (Dictionary.com)    cot (Webster)     caught (Dictionary.com)    caught (Webster).

The difference may disappear in many parts of the United States and these two sounds are merged and many Americans don’t use the [ɔ] (AW) sound, they pronounce it as [ɑ] (Short O – AH) instead.

How do Rachel and Mandy teach these sounds? Well, both of them teach the [ɑ] (Short O – AH) and the [ɔ] (AW) as separate sounds. As Mandy says: There is something called the cot/caught merger, which is the actual loss of the aw sound in certain dialects of American English. Those dialects typically only use the short o sound. It is up to you if you want to learn these as separate and distinct sounds, or not. I am neutral on the matter. I say them as separate sounds, but I recognize that some people do not.”


Source:
https://calvin.enlov.net/blog/tag/sociolinguistics/








As for me, I pronounce Short O instead of AW sound, or I mean I tend to do (pronounce them this way) so. 
 I checked several materials of  teachers of American English. Some of them teach them as separate sounds, some teach only one sound – the Short O.



1. [ɑ] Short O – AH


What does Rachel provide? She explains how to create the [ɑ] Short O – AH sound.


She shows how to create this sound and gives an example in which she explains in slow motion, from different angles what’s going on. Her example sentence is, “You can see my apartment from the Top of the Rock when there's no fog.”

Mandy also explains how to create the [ɑ] Short O – AH sound by giving audio examples, and she also recommends some shows from her podcast and relatedlessons. You can find the basis of the sheet of possible spelling patterns of the [ɑ] Short O – AH sound (with audio examples) on her website.

Let’s see how the the [ɑ] Short O – AH sound is generally spelled (with one NON PHONETIC PATTERN):

Spelling pattern
Examples
-o-(CVC)
odd
box
shock
-a- (NON PHONETIC)
father
No suffixes


Note: o spelling followed by the letter r
When the consonant following the letter o is the letter r (as in the words for and order), the sound is usually pronounced as the or sound instead of the short o sound followed by the r sound. If the or spelling occurs on an unstressed syllable (as in the words honor and doctor), a schwa+r pronunciation is also possible.

2. [ɔ] AW


What does Rachel provide? She explains how to create the [ɔ] AW sound.



She shows how to create this sound and gives an example in which she explains in slow motion, from different angles what’s going on. Her example sentence is, “Your daughter is taller than when I saw her last fall.”


Mandy also explains how to create the [ɔ] AW sound by giving audio examples, and she also recommends some shows from her podcast and related lessons.   You can find the basis of the sheet of possible spelling patterns of the [ɔ] AW sound (with audio examples) on her website.



Let’s see how the [ɔ] AW sound is generally spelled (with one NON PHONETIC PATTERN):

Spelling pattern
Examples
aw
law
awful
drawn
-o- (CVC)
dog
lost
soft
au
caution
haunt
author
augh
caught
daughter
taught
ough (+ t)
brought
thought
fought
want
wash
watch
o-e NON PHONETIC
gone
talk
walk
a
almost
No suffixes.


Notes:
o spelling followed by the letter r
When the consonant following the letter o is the letter r (as in the words for and order), the sound is usually pronounced as the or sound. If the or spelling occurs on an unstressed syllable (as in the words honor and factor), a schwa+r pronunciation is also possible.
 
ough(+t) spelling
The ough spelling is pronounced with the aw sound when it is followed by the letter t. There are no pronunciation patterns when ough occurs at the end of a word. For example, the words enough, through, and though each have different pronunciations for the ough spelling.
 
(w+)a spelling
The letter a is often pronounced as the aw sound when it occurs between the letter w and a consonant. Exceptions to this pattern include the words wax, waste, and wagon.

If you want to compare the difference between the British and American AW sound click here: law, caught  You can hear these words with British and American pronunciation.  

Mandy has some other interesting lessons and podcasts so it’s worth visiting her site. Check out some of her lessons, such as Compare short a/short o/aw sound (lesson), Comparing short a, short o, and aw sound (podcast),   w+a(want), w+a-r (warm), w+o-r (work) , talk and walk and other -alk words, or On-off.

Once again: should you pronounce both sounds (Short O, and AW) in your every day speech, or you use only the Short O? It’s your decision. But if you want to understand American English (the American accent), you should be aware of this phenomenon.

That’s all for now. Next time, I’ll show a similar vowel to the [ɑ] Short A that can be confusing for you, so there are some even more difficulties waiting for us.

Kate checked this post again. She is searching new students again on her ITALKI profile. Her lessons are awesome and enjoyable. 

Please visit my Facebook page and/or my Facebook group .

That's it, and thank you so much for using Challenge of Learning US English. :)

Bye - bye,

Attila
  

 
 


1 comment:

  1. I still can't decide whether I want to speak with the COT-CAUGHT merger or not :/ and I can't decide which american accent I want to use - the more I listen to english the more I hear all the differences between various american accents

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