North American short o
Posted: 26 February 2007 11:33 PM   [ Ignore ]
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This post is about the short o sound found in English words such as “not”.

For most speakers of English in the USA and Canada, the sound of the short o is further forward than that of BBC English or the o sounds of other European languages. It is closer to the Italian a than the Italian o. British and North American vowels have both drifted since the founding of British colonies in North America, but I am assuming that in this case most of the difference is due to change in the North American vowel.

Is there any information about the timeline or cause of this change?

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Posted: 27 February 2007 07:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Down here in the southern Appalacians in the USA, we pronounce that short o in “not” so close to the au in say, nauticle, that it’s difficult to hear the difference.

It seems to me that farther north you hear not pronounced more like the child’s taunt...nah, nah , nah...etc, or the phrase in the Christmas carole “Deck the Halls”, fa-la-la-la-la. 

I hope that helps. I don’t know why or when these variations occur. 

I had to come back and edit this. Sorry I don’t know the science of this, just how vowels sound to me.

[ Edited: 28 February 2007 06:48 AM by Paula Sue ]
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Posted: 28 February 2007 12:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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I think BBC English (announcer’s English, that is) is a dialect peculiar to the BBC, and to nowhere else, spoken by a few hundred people at most; and I wouldn’t think of it as “standard UK”, though lots of non-Britons appear to think of it in those terms. I don’t believe, in fact, that there is any such a thing as “Standard UK speech”. You can hear “not” (and everything else) pronounced a hundred different ways in different parts of Britain. Let’s hope this will never change.

Note: the above is NOT an attack on BBC English, or indeed any sort of criticism of it ---- it does have its virtues (it is clear and easy to follow, which is why it was developed in the first place), but I fervently hope it will never become “standard UK”.

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Posted: 28 February 2007 03:25 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Well, I was just using BBC English as an example. It’s not really crucial to the point, which is that the North American short o is further forward than that used elsewhere in the English speaking world (regardless of the extreme variety observed elsewhere in the English speaking world).

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Posted: 21 August 2010 06:02 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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I think this may be happened due to difference in pronunciation style. Pronunciation style differs from place to place.

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Posted: 21 August 2010 07:47 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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I believe you mean “lower,” not “further forward.”

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Posted: 21 August 2010 02:00 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Not both?

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Posted: 21 August 2010 02:41 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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OK, both, but the salient difference is in height.  Take a look at the vowel triangle to see what I mean.  If you go “forward” from /o/, you get /e/.

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Posted: 21 August 2010 02:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Still, three and a half years is a long time to leave that nit hanging before you pick it.

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Posted: 21 August 2010 03:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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It was expresskiphire who shook the tree.

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Posted: 22 August 2010 05:30 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Internet conversations are interesting that way.

(I look forward to a response sometime in 2014.)

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Posted: 22 August 2010 06:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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I have this very sad image of languagehat gazing forlornly at his computer screen for another four years, so here’s a speedy reply for him.  It doesn’t say anything, mind, but it does mean that he’s not stuck inside for too long.

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Posted: 23 August 2010 06:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Thanks, Eliza!  Unfortunately, it’s cool and rainy out, so I’m gazing forlornly at my computer screen anyway.

[ Edited: 23 August 2010 11:03 AM by languagehat ]
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