The 'aw' sound

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Bob Boden
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The 'aw' sound

Post by Bob Boden » Mon Apr 28, 2008 11:46 pm

I have printed out Debbie's 'The Alphabetic Code'. I notice that she lists more ways of spelling the 'aw' sound than any other vowel sound. As an exercise I converted the three page listing to Phondot coding.

It is interesting to note that in respect to vowel sounds the pronunciation of the all the words in the paragraph below can be correctly accomplished if the letters 'a' and 'o' can be marked to indicate the 'aw' sound -- and if a way exists to show that a letter should be ignored in the pronunciation of a word:

claw, paw, saw, jaw, raw, tall, fall, wall, walk, talk, calk, balk, false, malt, mall, call, sought, thought, wrought, ought, caught, taught, fought, bought, lost, cost, boss, moth, moss, cloth, broth, toss, soft, or, door, floor, four, more, corps, sore, tore, store, core, lore, board, oar, roar, war, wart, ward, warm

Many words with spelling similar to the words above, do not have the 'aw' vowel sound:

palm, calm, psalm, alms, balm, scalp, talc, touch, soup, out, would, could, should, through, bough, poor, moor, yard, card

It would seem to me that learning the marking of the 'a' and 'o' letters should take far less time than the memorization required to correctly read all the words with the 'aw' sound. I think Dr. Leigh would agree with me.

Bob Boden

elsy
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Post by elsy » Wed Apr 30, 2008 11:39 am

Methinks accent, regional and national, rears its head again.

False and cloth are just two that would be controversial in British English alone, not to mention Yorkshire folk toasting the toes in front of the fire to keep warm! :grin:

Bob Boden
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how do you pronounce 'false'?

Post by Bob Boden » Wed Apr 30, 2008 8:13 pm

Hi Elsy,

You have provoked my curiosity. How is 'false' pronounced other than f aw l s? I know about cl aw th and cl o th. In my system I have used cl aw th because that is given first in the dictionary. But if a kid wants to say cl o th that is his right. We would still understand him.

Bob Boden

elsy
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Post by elsy » Wed Apr 30, 2008 9:02 pm

Hi Bob, it's the same as c l o th / c l aw th, many of us say f o l s. This is given as an alternative in my pronunciation dictionary.

marylennox
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Post by marylennox » Wed Apr 30, 2008 9:41 pm

How kind and tolerant of you Bob to allow the population of the entire north of England to pronounce false in our quaint and unusual fashion (fols) despite this not being the first pronounciation in your (presumably American) dictionary. I seem to remember a linguistics lecturer at university telling us that many of the Northern pronounciations of the vowel sounds were closest to the original Anglo Saxon.

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maizie
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Post by maizie » Wed Apr 30, 2008 11:11 pm

How kind and tolerant of you Bob to allow the population of the entire north of England to pronounce false in our quaint and unusual fashion (fols) despite this not being the first pronounciation in your (presumably American) dictionary.
Aaaaah, the North of England!
I had a bit of a surprise today when a teacher said that 'aunt' and 'ant' were homphones :smile: A quick check round the group confirmed that it is indeed. Silly Southerner, me!

Bob Boden
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accent of the north

Post by Bob Boden » Thu May 01, 2008 12:33 am

Hi Mazie,

The words Aunt and ant have always rhymed for me. Ah that North!

I remember one of the times when I was working in England at a computer laboratory I arrived in the morning and saw a circle of men surrounding a person I had not seen before. I went over to the circle and inquired as to what was going on. One of the men said: it's a new employee, and we are all asking him various questions just to hear him talk. He said in all his experience he had never heard English pronounced as this new employee spoke it, yet he was completely understandable. The new man was from the north of Scotland.

I never had the least trouble conversing with the employees at the lab in my American English.

Bob Boden

kenm
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Post by kenm » Thu May 01, 2008 1:02 am

Even some Englishmen believe that the best English is spoken in Aberdeen. :cool:
"... the innovator has as enemies all those who have done well under the old regime, and only lukewarm allies among those who may do well under the new." Niccolo Macchiavelli, "The Prince", Chapter 6

Bob Boden
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the 'ou' sounds

Post by Bob Boden » Thu May 01, 2008 4:03 am

Hi Kenm

Do we have any trouble with:

ought, bought, thought, wrought, fought, cough -- touch, rough,
slough -- though, soul, shoulder, boulder -- should, would, could -- soup, loupe, through, slough -- bough, bout, house, slouch, couch, shout, out, slough, bounce, -- bourg -- house

Looks like it would take quite a lot of tweaking. My dictionary gives three different pronunciations for slough, two for house -- a futher complication.

The 'ou's have six different sounds.

Does the north pronounce these words different from the way they are pronounced in the south?

Bob Boden

kenm
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Re: the 'ou' sounds

Post by kenm » Thu May 01, 2008 10:35 am

Bob Boden wrote:Hi Kenm

Do we have any trouble with:

ought, bought, thought, wrought, fought,
All the same in (most of?) the UK AFAIK
cough
Two pronunciations in the UK. The more common one has a short /o/ sound, different from the others in the list; in upper class (English "public" - i.e. private - school) pronunciation the vowel is /aw/ c.f. the Major General in "Pirates of Penzance", who makes "often" a homophone with "orphan" (/awf-n/ with /-/ representing schwa).
touch, rough, slough
OK
though, soul, shoulder, boulder -- should, would, could -- soup, loupe, through, slough
I don't know that "slough", and nor does Chambers; others OK.
bough, bout, house, slouch, couch, shout, out, slough, bounce, -- bourg -- house

Looks like it would take quite a lot of tweaking. My dictionary gives three different pronunciations for slough, two for house -- a futher complication.

Chambers: only two for "slough" (as above), one for "house", but some Scots would make the latter rhyme with "moose".
The 'ou's have six different sounds.

Does the north pronounce these words different from the way they are pronounced in the south?
I'm not an expert on regional accents, but I would have thought that among all these words there would be a lot of variation across the regions, with only very rough generalisations applying to a N-S division. Some examples: the NE of England, centred on Newcastle, has a characteristic accent (Geordie), with, to my ear, more resemblances to Welsh than to the nearer Scots, and also showing an influence from the Netherlands (Geordie "floor" sounds very like Dutch "vloer" /floo-er/). The Liverpool and Glasgow cultures both have strong Irish influences, and these apply also to the accents and dialects. The characteristic speech of the big cities, such as London and Birmingham, spreads to the surrounding towns, but some of the inhabitants of the rural areas preserve the older speech of the region.
"... the innovator has as enemies all those who have done well under the old regime, and only lukewarm allies among those who may do well under the new." Niccolo Macchiavelli, "The Prince", Chapter 6

A Haimes
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Post by A Haimes » Thu May 01, 2008 11:37 am

Speaking for those of us who live in the southern part of the world - we too, pronounce false as fols. Aunt and ant do not rhyme. Aunt is pronounced as arnt.

The aunties in Australia would not take too kindly to be referred to as ants!

elsy
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Post by elsy » Thu May 01, 2008 11:40 am

Ken thanks for clarifying 'cough'. I was puzzled, forgetting 'the corf that carried him orf'!

slough pronounced 'sloo' rings a bell from somewhere in a US accent. (Don't jump yet, I know there's no one US accent - see below.) I'm thinking of perhaps 'Slough of Despond' rather than 'slew the giant'.

When it comes to British accents the differences can vary from town to town. When I was young accents from Leeds, Bradford, Wakefield and Huddersfield were all slightly different and discernible. Smaller towns in between were less so. South Yorkshire sounded like another country! :grin: :grin: :grin: I'm afraid I get very niggled by the phrase 'Northern accent'.
Does the north pronounce these words different from the way they are pronounced in the south?
rough, tough etc would likely be roof, toof with a short oo as in look. It's not as simple as North though when it comes to /u/. You can get 'look' with a long oo and with a long oo that is further forward in the mouth (I think) and moving towards the German u umlaut though not the same. :shock:

(Can anyone advise on how to type characters from the IPA?)

Judy
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Post by Judy » Thu May 01, 2008 11:53 am

Somewhere - I have no idea where! - I have a little book about dialects in which a roughly North/South divide was made by drawing a (rather bumpy!) line from the Severn estuary to The Wash, based on how 'butter' is pronounced.

I know there are a myriad of variations within those rough boundaries but, allowing for a big bump for Herefordshire, it seemed to work pretty well!

Elizabeth
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Post by Elizabeth » Thu May 01, 2008 1:46 pm

We've had lots of fascinating threads like this about accents, and others about whether it would be a good idea to simplify English spelling.

A major reason for not simplifying our spelling is that English is spoken in different ways all over the world, but however you pronounce words, when you write them anyone who can read English can understand you. That understanding would be damaged if we tried to make the spelling of English words more logical phonetically .
Elizabeth

Rod Everson
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Post by Rod Everson » Thu May 01, 2008 3:42 pm

Elizabeth wrote:
A major reason for not simplifying our spelling is that English is spoken in different ways all over the world, but however you pronounce words, when you write them anyone who can read English can understand you. That understanding would be damaged if we tried to make the spelling of English words more logical phonetically .
Wow! Thanks for adding that insight Elizabeth. It makes perfect sense, as these accent discussions illustrate.

Rod

PS: In Wisconsin anyway, a slough (sloo) is a low, often small, often wet, and always weedy area in an otherwise dry field. It's a place where deer, pheasants, etc., are found due to the cover provided compared to the surrounding fields. Usage would be "There should be some birds in that slough in the north field."

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