"tan" /tæn/ in AmE and BE

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bapi

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Dictionaries seem to show the pronunciation of the vowel "a" in words like "cat", or "add", or "tan" as /æ/ whether they refer to American or British pronunciation. However, American and English speakers pronounce these words differently. Would anybody know how to mark this difference with phonetic symbols? Thank you very much.
 

Buddhaheart

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I don’t believe we pronounce "cat", "add" or "tan" any differently from the RP variety. My dictionary and webster’s show the short ‘a’ sound /æ/ (the ash) for those words. CEPD (D Jones) & LPD (JC wells) do not show variant AmE pronunciation for those words either.
 

bapi

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Thank you very much for your answer. I think they sound quite different, it's actually one of the differences between AmE and other English accents that strikes me as more evident. I mean when an American says "I got a tan", you can tell he/she's American! (I'm using examples from our last weekend at the beach!)

Americans (at least many Americans) would pronounce "tan" with a longer vowel and being Spanish, the American vowel sounds closer to a Spanish "e" and the British/Irish sounds more like a Spanish "a" (and it is shorter than the American vowel in this case).

The other day (down at the beach:-D), my American friend who's here in Spain asked us "what's AÑADIR?" and my English friend (from near London) said "add". The American wouldn't understand the word until we spelt it for her and then she pronounced it again in a different way with her American accent. But unfortunately none of my English speaking friends know how to transcribe the difference phonetically!

I understand dictionaries show "ae" in either case, so I thought maybe somebody in the forum would be able to give me a hint as to what symbols I could use to represent this difference, even if it is in an informal way. I also understand it might be a difficult question (that's why i posted it in the forum;-)).
 

belly_ttt

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That's right bapi, the same problem here.
Words like back, tackle, bag, pack, black etc. are spelled differently in AmE and BrE, so it's hard for me to hear both of the language well. In an American movie, I heard" My mom's in Sudan now"- I could hardly make it out because the actress pronounced it with a bare /e/ . Later, when I check it with howjsay.com (it's a British site), I heard it being pronounced as" Sudan /a/ "... I think even Meriam Webster cannot provide the whole thing, it sounds more like American with a little British- not the kind people speak in movies
 

Amigos4

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That's right bapi, the same problem here.
Words like back, tackle, bag, pack, black etc. are spelled differently in AmE and BrE, so it's hard for me to hear both of the language well. In an American movie, I heard" My mom's in Sudan now"- I could hardly make it out because the actress pronounced it with a bare /e/ . Later, when I check it with howjsay.com (it's a British site), I heard it being pronounced as" Sudan /a/ "... I think even Meriam Webster cannot provide the whole thing, it sounds more like American with a little British- not the kind people speak in movies

Belly_ttt,
When you say:
Words like back, tackle, bag, pack, black etc. are spelled differently in AmE and BrE what are you refering to? I don't think the words are spelled differently. What am I missing?

I also listened to howjsay.com and I agree with Buddaheart, I don’t believe we pronounce "cat", "add" or "tan" any differently than the Brits do!

Cheers,
Amigo
 

belly_ttt

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Hi amigos4,
One example is Sudan. I heard in being pronounced in an American movie as" Suden" but on howjsay, it's "Sudan", and words like sad, for instance, British pronounce it with an a while American tend to sound it as e
 

Amigos4

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Hi amigos4,
One example is Sudan. I heard in being pronounced in an American movie as" Suden" but on howjsay, it's "Sudan", and words like sad, for instance, British pronounce it with an a while American tend to sound it as e
Hi, belly_ttt! It's good to hear from you, again!

I wish I knew what movie you were watching because in my circle of native AmE speakers we say 'Sudan' and 'sad'.

Check out the following sites: Sudan definition - Dictionary - MSN Encarta
sad definition - Dictionary - MSN Encarta

You said: Words like back, tackle, bag, pack, black etc. are spelled differently in AmE and BrE. How are they spelled differently?

Cheers,
Amigo
 

bapi

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Hi again! For instance, if you go to wordreference, and click on the US pronunciation for "tan", tan - English-Spanish Dictionary - WordReference.com you can hear the vowel I am are talking about.

The pronunciation for words like add, black, or cat in Wordreference or The Free Dictionary is not the same though. They do sound like an "a", so I assume it is the standard pronunciation and you and your friends have a standard AmE.

HOWEVER, it is also quite obvious for me and any other English and Irish person I have checked with (and for betty_ttt), that many Americans don't use this standard pronunciation and use a sound that is more like "e". I'd say it is often more exaggerated than the pronounciation for "tan" in wordreference, at least in the way that the vowel feels longer. It's a bit like the difference between American "hot" and English "hot" (My Irish husband says English "hot" is pronounced with one "O" and American "hot" with four "As", he's only joking of course).

Anyway, the important question, would you know how to transcribe the sound for "tan" in wordreference phonetically? Thank very much to all of you for sharing your views:)
 

BobK

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Hi again! For instance, if you go to wordreference, and click on the US pronunciation for "tan", tan - English-Spanish Dictionary - WordReference.com you can hear the vowel I am are talking about.

...

Quite apart from this difference, there's also a difference in the way we assign the /æ/ phoneme. In British English "romance" (with /æ/) doesn't rhyme with "dance" (with /ɑ:/), causing no end of problems for pop singers - who usually settle for /dæns/, although on the King & I soundtrack Yul Brynner (playing a non-native speaker) got away with /rəʊ'mɑ:ns/) . This variance happens a lot in loan words - British /wɪg'wæm/ but American /wɪg'wɑ:m/ (well, it's the /ɑ:/ phoneme, but it sounds to me - on the Cobuild CD - more like just [ɑ].

b
 

belly_ttt

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Quite apart from this difference, there's also a difference in the way we assign the /æ/ phoneme. In British English "romance" (with /æ/) doesn't rhyme with "dance" (with /ɑ:/), causing no end of problems for pop singers - who usually settle for /dæns/, although on the King & I soundtrack Yul Brynner (playing a non-native speaker) got away with /rəʊ'mɑ:ns/) . This variance happens a lot in loan words - British /wɪg'wæm/ but American /wɪg'wɑ:m/ (well, it's the /ɑ:/ phoneme, but it sounds to me - on the Cobuild CD - more like just [ɑ].

b

Hm... WHo was that singer again? Still I cannot see the pronunciation in your post, but why do they cause problems for pop singers?
 

BobK

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It causes problems for pop singers* because many pop songs use a rhyme between "romance" and "dance" that works in Am English but not in Br. English. Most singers use /æ/, and some insist on using the two distinct phonemes.

b
*PS Not all pop singers - just (or chiefly) the ones whose accent is like RP in the case of these vowels. But when The Beatles sang Devil In Her Heart - for example - they didn't have to force the rhyme between "chance" (/ɑ:/) and "romance" (/æ/), because the words do rhyme in their dialect.
 
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BobK

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PPS Silly of me not to give the quote; it was in my mind when I gave the song title, but not in anyone else's mind - unless you thought to use Google:
...
I'll take my chances
for romance is
So important to me....

b
 
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