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    #1

    Pronunciation of "caught" (American)

    I'm noticing a conflict between various sources (which I think are all American) on how to pronounce "caught" and similar words. The CMU Pronouncing Dictionary gives "caught" the same pronunciation as "cot", i.e. /kɑt/. In Merriam Webster and dictionary.com (wherever it's sourced from), the pronunciation of "caught" is /kɔt/, while "cot" is still /kɑt/. I have to assume this is a dialectical difference. So my question is, where is it pronounced one way vs the other, and what is the dominant pronunciation in the US Midwest in particular?

  1. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Pronunciation of "caught" (American)

    As a BrE speaker, I can't comment on the specifics though I can confidently say there are many regional differences in pronunciation of many words in many countries.

    Forvo is a good resource for hearing real people pronounce words in their native language. If you choose English then type "caught" into the search box, you will find 29 recordings, 15 of which are from speakers of AmE.
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

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    #3

    Re: Pronunciation of "caught" (American)

    Many Americans pronounce caught and cot the same, practicing the increasingly widespread caught-cot merger. This map shows one study's results of where it occurs.
    I am not a teacher.

  2. konungursvia's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: Pronunciation of "caught" (American)

    Most places in 'Broadcast Standard' North American English (from Chicago to Toronto) pronounce it /kɑt/. Half of America does too. The rest have their regional variants. I see the alternative /kɔt/ as quite British-sounding.

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    #5

    Re: Pronunciation of "caught" (American)

    @GoesStation Thanks, that map is probably exactly what I wanted to see. I also read up on the "cot-caught merger", so it's a bit clearer in my mind now.

    @konungursvia Based on the map above, shouldn't it be pronounced /kɔt/ in Chicago, since it should be different from "cot" is some way?

    I've also googled a bit on this topic, and I ran into this video where the guy explains the difference in pronunciation between "cut", "cot", and "caught": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NsvwYWoKCw0 It's fine if it's his dialect, but he also says in a different but related video that what he is teaching is standard broadcast pronunciation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tPbE-sJKXmA

    Do you think he's correct about his pronunciation, that it is standard?

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    #6

    Re: Pronunciation of "caught" (American)

    Quote Originally Posted by firewell View Post
    I've also googled a bit on this topic, and I ran into this video where the guy explains the difference in pronunciation between "cut", "cot", and "caught": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NsvwYWoKCw0 It's fine if it's his dialect, but he also says in a different but related video that what he is teaching is standard broadcast pronunciation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tPbE-sJKXmA

    Do you think he's correct about his pronunciation, that it is standard?
    American TV and radio hosts speak with a range of accents which might all be described as "standard". I imagine some merge cot and caught,​ while others don't.
    I am not a teacher.

  3. Barb_D's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: Pronunciation of "caught" (American)

    Having grown up in New York, the "aw" sound is one of the few parts of the accent I can't seem to shake.

    Caught is a definite "aw" like "awning" for me, and "cot" is further back in the mouth. Law and lot have completely different beginnings for me and cot rhymes with lot.

    I drink "cawfee" too.
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

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