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  1. #1
    CJ 4 life is offline Newbie
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    "cow" sound in American English

    Hi everybody, I'd like to know whether the first sound of the "ow" diphthong (in words like "cow", "now", "loud", ecc...) is the same as the first sound of the "y" diphthong (in words like "my", "hi", "right", ecc...), because I hear it to be more toward the "a" sound of "cat", "map", ecc...
    I know that the "ow" diphthong ends with a "oo" sound (as in "book"), I'm only asking about the STARTING part of the diphthong, because in dictionaries this first part is the same as the first part of the "y" diphthong, but I think it's a little different. What is it exactly (in American English)? Thank you.
    I know that it may vary from dialect to dialect, but I'm asking about the standard one, which is the one that I hear most often.

  2. #2
    raindoctor is offline Member
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    Re: "cow" sound in American English

    The first vowel tends to be anywhere between /a/ and //, 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. // and /ʊ/ are back; /ɑ/ and /ɪ/ are front. /a/ is half way between /ɑ/ and //.

  3. #3
    birdeen's call is offline VIP Member
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    Re: "cow" sound in American English

    That phoneme is /a/. This is the sound you denote by "a" in Italian.

  4. #4
    CJ 4 life is offline Newbie
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    Re: "cow" sound in American English

    Quote Originally Posted by raindoctor View Post
    The first vowel tends to be anywhere between /a/ and //, 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. // and /ʊ/ are back; /ɑ/ and /ɪ/ are front. /a/ is half way between /ɑ/ and //.
    So the first part of "cow" tends to be between the first part of "find" and the vowel of "cat", am I correct? If this is true, standard American English has three different "a" sounds, the one in "cow", the one in "kind" and the one in "con" (listed from the most fronted to the least fronted), right?

  5. #5
    birdeen's call is offline VIP Member
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    Re: "cow" sound in American English

    Quote Originally Posted by CJ 4 life View Post
    So the first part of "cow" tends to be between the first part of "find" and the vowel of "cat", am I correct? If this is true, standard American English has three different "a" sounds, the one in "cow", the one in "kind" and the one in "con" (listed from the most fronted to the least fronted), right?
    Firstly, there's no such thing as standard American English. There's co-called General American. And GA doesn't have different "a" sounds in "kind" and "cow". They're both /a/. It's not the sound that is present in "con" except perhaps the Inland North dialect.

  6. #6
    CJ 4 life is offline Newbie
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    Re: "cow" sound in American English

    Quote Originally Posted by birdeen's call View Post
    Firstly, there's no such thing as standard American English. There's co-called General American. And GA doesn't have different "a" sounds in "kind" and "cow". They're both /a/. It's not the sound that is present in "con" except perhaps the Inland North dialect.
    I think you're wrong. The first part of the diphthong of "cow" and "kind" DOES differ a little bit. The one in "cow" tends to be more toward the "a" in "cat", at least that's what I hear (also Rachel from Rachel's English confirmed this).

  7. #7
    lauralie2 is offline Senior Member
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    Re: "cow" sound in American English

    Quote Originally Posted by CJ 4 life View Post
    ... different "a" sounds, the one in "cow", the one in "kind" ... .
    Phonetically, yes. Articulatory anticipation of high, front [ɪ] and low, back [ʊ] will produce different "a" sounds in the diphthongs [aɪ̯] and [aʊ̯].

  8. #8
    CJ 4 life is offline Newbie
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    Re: "cow" sound in American English

    Quote Originally Posted by lauralie2 View Post
    Phonetically, yes. Articulatory anticipation of high, front [ɪ] and low, back [ʊ] will produce different "a" sounds in the diphthongs [aɪ̯] and [aʊ̯].
    So do you agree with me that the "a" in "cow" is more toward the "a" in "cat"?

  9. #9
    lauralie2 is offline Senior Member
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    Re: "cow" sound in American English

    Quote Originally Posted by CJ 4 life View Post
    So do you agree with me that the "a" in "cow" is more toward the "a" in "cat"?
    For my pronunciation, yes: "a" in cat, cattle, apple.

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