The first vowel tends to be anywhere between /a/ and /æ/, depending on the dialect. Second, the first vowel in MY and COW tend to be same; however, the glide can shift the quality of the first vowel. /æ/ and /ʊ/ are back; /ɑ/ and /ɪ/ are front. /a/ is half way between /ɑ/ and /æ/.
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