American /Q/. Is it less rounded than British /Q/?

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Mega85
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American /Q/. Is it less rounded than British /Q/?

Postby Mega85 » Tue Feb 16, 2016 12:59 am UTC

American /Q/. Is it less rounded than British /Q/? /Q_c/? I can tell when Britons distinguish between /Q/ and /A/, but can't tell when Americans do so.

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Re: American /Q/. Is it less rounded than British /Q/?

Postby Lazar » Tue Feb 16, 2016 1:45 am UTC

(I see you're using X-SAMPA – this site lets you convert it to IPA.) If you're referring to the phoneme /ɒ/ in RP, this has merged with /ɑː/ in most varieties of AmEng (the so called father-bother merger), and thus is generally unrounded. Complicating matters is the fact that the phoneme /ɔː/ tends to be lower in AmEng, and thus is often realized as [ɒː] – and some speakers also merge this phoneme with /ɑː/ (the so-called cot-caught merger).
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Re: American /Q/. Is it less rounded than British /Q/?

Postby Mega85 » Tue Feb 16, 2016 4:10 am UTC

I'm from Georgia, USA. I have both the father-bother merger and the cot-caught merger. The thing is, when Americans distinguish "cot" and "caught" with [ɑ(ː)] vs. [ɒ(ː)] I can't tell the difference, but I can hear the difference when Britons distinguish "father" and "bother" with those two vowels. Is the American [ɒ(ː)] less rounded than the British one?

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Re: American /Q/. Is it less rounded than British /Q/?

Postby Lazar » Tue Feb 16, 2016 5:26 am UTC

Oh, okay. Well, the exact qualities of those phonemes can vary across the US. But I know what you mean: sometimes I do find it hard to tell them apart in the speech of other Americans. One factor is that there's a length difference between RP [ɑː] and [ɒ], consistent with the former being a free vowel (capable of occurring in final position without a following consonant), and the latter being a checked vowel. In AmEng, the "cot" and "caught" phonemes are both free vowels, and are thus equally long. And you may be hearing some American speakers who are undergoing transitional phases of the cot-caught merger, for whom the distinction may be very subtle – perhaps [ɑ(ː)] versus [ɑ̜(ː)], as you suggest.

Another possible factor is that /ɒ/ tends to be raised in the speech of many younger British people, closer to cardinal [ɔ].
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Re: American /Q/. Is it less rounded than British /Q/?

Postby Mega85 » Tue Feb 16, 2016 4:16 pm UTC

http://www.ispot.tv/ad/7nkL/center-for- ... r-children

In this commercial it sounds like the speaker is using a different vowel in "daughter" than she uses in "long" and "lost".

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Re: American /Q/. Is it less rounded than British /Q/?

Postby Lazar » Tue Feb 16, 2016 7:09 pm UTC

True, it does sound like she has more of a diphthong in "long" and "lost" – perhaps [ɒʊ] – compared with [ɔː] in "daughter". This might indicate that the conditions that produced the lot-cloth split – a following voiceless fricative or voiced velar – are still in operation for some speakers today. But both of these realizations are clearly distinct from the [aː] that she uses in "mom" and "not".
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Re: American /Q/. Is it less rounded than British /Q/?

Postby Mega85 » Wed Feb 17, 2016 3:55 am UTC

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=if-UzXIQ5vw

I think the lead singer in R.E.M. might have the cot-caught merger. The vowel he uses in "thought" sounds the same as he uses in "not" to me. If he does make a distinction between the two vowels, it's not a very big one.

"I thought that I heard you laughing. I thought that I heard you sing. I think I thought I saw you try."

He's from Georgia, USA like I am.

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Re: American /Q/. Is it less rounded than British /Q/?

Postby Lazar » Wed Feb 17, 2016 2:04 pm UTC

Well, from what I can tell he grew up all over the place, being a military brat. I'm not sure whether he has the c-c merger: listening to the first half of the song I'd say that he doesn't, because his first "not" sounds rather central, but listening to the second half I'd say maybe he does.
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Re: American /Q/. Is it less rounded than British /Q/?

Postby HES » Wed Feb 17, 2016 3:02 pm UTC

Surely it would be better to judge based on speech, rather than song.
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Re: American /Q/. Is it less rounded than British /Q/?

Postby Mega85 » Sat Feb 20, 2016 3:36 pm UTC

How is the word "broccoli" pronounced for those with the lot-cloth split? Is it "brockly" or "brawkly"? I think it would be "brawkly" for them, but I may be wrong.

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Re: American /Q/. Is it less rounded than British /Q/?

Postby Lazar » Sat Feb 20, 2016 4:09 pm UTC

On questions like that, I think you should turn to well-regarded American dictionaries like Merriam-Webster, American Heritage or Dictionary.com. They'll generally list common pronunciations in order of frequency.

In the case of "broccoli", though, no dictionary that I can find attests a form with "aw". Bear in mind that the main conditions for the LOT-CLOTH split are a following voiceless fricative (as in "off", "cloth" or "loss") or voiced velar (as in "dog" or "long"); the shift doesn't generally occur before /k/. It did occur, as a one-off change, in "chocolate", but not in words like "rock", "lock" or "block".
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Re: American /Q/. Is it less rounded than British /Q/?

Postby Mega85 » Sat Feb 20, 2016 5:26 pm UTC

Lazar wrote:On questions like that, I think you should turn to well-regarded American dictionaries like Merriam-Webster, American Heritage or Dictionary.com. They'll generally list common pronunciations in order of frequency.

In the case of "broccoli", though, no dictionary that I can find attests a form with "aw". Bear in mind that the main conditions for the LOT-CLOTH split are a following voiceless fricative (as in "off", "cloth" or "loss") or voiced velar (as in "dog" or "long"); the shift doesn't generally occur before /k/. It did occur, as a one-off change, in "chocolate", but not in words like "rock", "lock" or "block".


Oh. I guess I got "broccoli" confused with "chocolate". I knew there was some word where the shift happens before /k/, but wasn't sure if it was "chocolate" or "broccoli" or if they both had the vowel.

I've read that with "-og" words there's variation. Some people with the lot-cloth split just have the "aw" vowel in "dog", whereas others have it in certain other "-og" words as well like "hog", "frog", and "log".

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Re: American /Q/. Is it less rounded than British /Q/?

Postby Lazar » Sat Feb 20, 2016 5:52 pm UTC

Yes, word frequency and even random chance seem to have played a role. My impression (though this could be off) is that "dog", "hog" and "log" most commonly take "aw"; "bog", "fog" and "frog" somewhat less commonly; and "cog" and "soggy" least commonly. Likewise, "long", "song" and "wrong" are most likely to take "aw", and more uncommon words like "prong" or "gong" are less likely to take it.
Last edited by Lazar on Sat Feb 20, 2016 6:08 pm UTC, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: American /Q/. Is it less rounded than British /Q/?

Postby Mega85 » Sat Feb 20, 2016 5:58 pm UTC

Something that I found strange is apparently "Utah" has /ɔː/ for the last vowel in RP and "restaurant" has /ɒː/ rather than the expected vowel /ɑː/ in both words. Goes to show, spelling doesn't always indicate which words have what vowel for those who make a three way distinction or two way distinction even for those who lack the lot-cloth split.

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Re: American /Q/. Is it less rounded than British /Q/?

Postby Lazar » Sat Feb 20, 2016 6:03 pm UTC

Yeah, "Utah" and "Arkansas" are both part of the "aw" class, whereas the last vowel in "restaurant" tends to be part of the short-o class. (Note that British English uses /ɒ/ rather than /ɒː/, because as I mentioned above it's a checked vowel for them.) My own native speech is cot-caught merged but father-bother distinguishing, since I'm from the Eastern New England dialect area – and consistently with that I use /ɒː/, rather than /ɑː/, in "Utah", "Arkansas" and "restaurant".

Also, I edited this into my last post but I'll put it here in case you missed it: Another occasional domain of the LOT-CLOTH split was before /n/. In the Midlands and South, "on" and "gone" both take "aw"; in the central North, only "gone" does; and in New York City, neither of them do. In Frozen, I could clearly tell that Elsa's voice actress was a New Yorker from how she said "dawn" and "gone".
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Re: American /Q/. Is it less rounded than British /Q/?

Postby Mega85 » Sat Feb 20, 2016 6:29 pm UTC

Yeah, I've heard Southerners pronounce "on" as [ɑʊn]. I've heard it pronounce like the word "own" by people trying to use a Southern pronunciation, exaggerating the diphthong.

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Re: American /Q/. Is it less rounded than British /Q/?

Postby eSOANEM » Sun Feb 21, 2016 12:02 pm UTC

As an RP speaker, I'm pretty certain that Utah ends in /ɑː/ not /ɔː/ I've only heard the ɔː/ pronunciation from Americans.
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Re: American /Q/. Is it less rounded than British /Q/?

Postby Lazar » Sun Feb 21, 2016 7:28 pm UTC

I've seen British dictionaries attest both.
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Re: American /Q/. Is it less rounded than British /Q/?

Postby Mega85 » Mon Feb 22, 2016 1:32 am UTC

According to that dictionary, British people use long vowels in "Utah" and Americans use short vowels.

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Re: American /Q/. Is it less rounded than British /Q/?

Postby Mega85 » Mon Feb 22, 2016 1:42 am UTC

That dictionary also gives a two way distinction of the vowels in "fairy", "ferry" and "carry" for American English.

http://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictio ... ican/fairy

http://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictio ... ican/ferry

http://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictio ... ican/carry

Interestingly it gives the primary pronunciation of "restaurant" for British English as [ˈrɛstəˌrɒŋ] "resterong".

http://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictio ... restaurant

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Re: American /Q/. Is it less rounded than British /Q/?

Postby Lazar » Mon Feb 22, 2016 2:18 am UTC

Mega85 wrote:According to that dictionary, British people use long vowels in "Utah" and Americans use short vowels.

Well, not exactly; they're just using common American transcriptional practices for their American dictionary. By convention it's more popular to mark long vowels in Britain than in the US; in reality, on both sides of the Atlantic, vowel length is affected by a number of factors, including checked or free status, and the voicing of following consonants. As I've indicated above, my preference is to consistently write checked monophthongs as short, and free monophthongs as long.

Interestingly it gives the primary pronunciation of "restaurant" for British English as [ˈrɛstəˌrɒŋ] "resterong".

Yeah, it seems that BrEng speakers tend to make some effort to approximate the French nasal vowel in that word, whereas AmEng just uses an unremarkable /nt/.

That dictionary also gives a two way distinction of the vowels in "fairy", "ferry" and "carry" for American English.

That's another, rather arbitrary dictionary convention; I'd prefer that they either show all three distinct or all three merged. Bert Vaux's 2003 survey (which is quite interesting – you should check it out) found that 57% of Americans merged all three, 17% distinguished all three, and only 9% had the 2-way "Mary=merry≠marry" distinction that dictionary makers seem to like.

Myself, being from the Eastern New England dialect area, I distinguish all three of "Mary-merry-marry". I also distinguish "hurry-furry", "serious-Sirius" and "Tory-torrent". All of these are minoritarian within the US, and are most strongly associated with ENE and New York.
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Re: American /Q/. Is it less rounded than British /Q/?

Postby Mega85 » Mon Feb 22, 2016 7:08 pm UTC

I've read that in Philadelphia they make a three way distinction of "Mary", "marry" and "merry". However "merry" merges with "Murray", called the furry-ferry merger.

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Re: American /Q/. Is it less rounded than British /Q/?

Postby Mega85 » Tue Feb 23, 2016 9:26 pm UTC

Is "parent" typically pronounced [pæɹənt] or [pɛəɹənt] for those who distinguish Mary, marry and merry? I think I've heard [pæɹənt] before.

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Re: American /Q/. Is it less rounded than British /Q/?

Postby Lazar » Tue Feb 23, 2016 9:53 pm UTC

That's a good question. "Parent" is generally treated as a "Mary" word in British English (/ˈpɛəɹənt/), but as a "marry" word among 3M-distinguishing Americans (/ˈpæɹənt/). The same is also true of the name "Aaron". (I use /æ/ in both of these.)
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Re: American /Q/. Is it less rounded than British /Q/?

Postby Mega85 » Thu Feb 25, 2016 2:54 am UTC

Lazar wrote:True, it does sound like she has more of a diphthong in "long" and "lost" – perhaps [ɒʊ] – compared with [ɔː] in "daughter". This might indicate that the conditions that produced the lot-cloth split – a following voiceless fricative or voiced velar – are still in operation for some speakers today. But both of these realizations are clearly distinct from the [aː] that she uses in "mom" and "not".


I think it has to do with the /təɹ/ having some affect on the vowel.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0gEIdMHbYMg

In this video if you go to 2:50 and play, you'll hear the person in the video using a similar vowel in "water", which is different from the vowel they use in "talk" at the beginning of the video.

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Re: American /Q/. Is it less rounded than British /Q/?

Postby flicky1991 » Sat Apr 23, 2016 10:28 pm UTC

Lazar wrote:The same is also true of the name "Aaron". (I use /æ/ in both of these.)

Brit here - "Aaron" definitely shares the vowel of "marry", not "Mary", in British English. Unlike "parent", which is as you describe.
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Re: American /Q/. Is it less rounded than British /Q/?

Postby Lazar » Sat Apr 23, 2016 11:58 pm UTC

I can't recall hearing any Brits say it, but British dictionaries seem to list it with the "Mary" vowel.
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Re: American /Q/. Is it less rounded than British /Q/?

Postby eSOANEM » Sun Apr 24, 2016 10:01 am UTC

As a Brit, I can confirm, Mary vowel is also present. Mary is the traditional RP vowel but marry has become quite common now (possibly under influence from the south asian cognate names).
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Re: American /Q/. Is it less rounded than British /Q/?

Postby flicky1991 » Sun Apr 24, 2016 11:39 am UTC

Strange, I've never heard anyone from Britain pronounce it that way. The two British clips on this page have the "marry" vowel.
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Re: American /Q/. Is it less rounded than British /Q/?

Postby HES » Sun Apr 24, 2016 7:06 pm UTC

The British Aaron I went to school with is pronounced marry, the British Aaron I work with is pronounced Mary.
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Re: American /Q/. Is it less rounded than British /Q/?

Postby Mega85 » Fri Aug 12, 2016 2:51 am UTC

Lazar, just curious, do you have a different vowel for the "a's" in "library" and "librarian"? Dictionary.com gives "library" with the "merry" vowel and "librarian" with the "Mary" vowel.

http://www.dictionary.com/browse/library?s=t

http://www.dictionary.com/browse/librarian?s=t

I'm surprised. I'd think "library" would have the "Mary" vowel for a Mary-marry-merry distinguishing American.

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Re: American /Q/. Is it less rounded than British /Q/?

Postby Lazar » Fri Aug 12, 2016 5:26 am UTC

Yeah, what they show is accurate: I have [ˈlaɪˌbɹɛɹi] and [laɪˈbɹɛɚiən]. Generally, unmerged Americans have [ɛ] in places where RP undergoes reduction:

library: NE US [ˈlaɪˌbɹɛɹi], RP [ˈlaɪb(ɹǝ)ɹi]
military: NE US [ˈmɪləˌtʰɛɹi], RP [ˈmɪlɪt(ǝ)ɹi]
blueberry: NE US [ˈblʊuˌbɛɹi], RP [ˈblʊub(ǝ)ɹi]
Shrewsbury: NE US [ˈʃɹʊuzˌbɛɹi], RP [ˈʃɹʊuzb(ǝ)ɹi]
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