There is only one instance where I remember making a mistake:
I work part-time as a waiter. I was taking an order from a table of 6 people, all of whom I thought were Americans. When I got to the last guy, he said he wanted a pint of "hop." After excusing myself and asking him to repeat himself, I realized he was British and it became immediately clear that he wanted a pint of "Harp Lager." Had I known he was British, I wouldn't have gotten confused upon taking his drink order. The problem was that the only thing he'd initially said to me was "hop" and you can't really pick out someone's accent by just hearing one word.
Shogo, I pronounce ''draw'' and ''drawing'' as [dra:] and [dra:iN] ''drah-ing''. But, I pronounce ''drawer'' as [dro:r] ''dror''. ''Drawer'' is always pronounce as ''dror'' even by people that don't make a distinction between ''ah'' and ''aw''. ''doors and drawers'' makes a good rhyme.
Alice says, ''For me, both "palm", "balm", and "calm" as well, have a distinct "l" sound.'' and Shogo says, ''Alice, how about words like "talk" and "walk"? Do you pronounce the l's in these words too?''
This is how I pronounce these words. I don't pronounce an ''l'' in any of these words and I've never heard ''talk'' and ''walk'' pronounced with an ''l''.
I'm from California and pronounce "cot" and "caught" both as [ka:t], too. When I was learning to spell as a kid I always just thought of the orthographic combinations like "aw" "al" and "au" and the "-ought" words as just another way to represent the sound [a:]. I didn't realize that some people pronounced them differently until a few years ago while looking at a pronunciation guide distinguishing the spellings "aw" and "ah".
After taking a phonetics class I realized the sound [o:] does actually exist in my speech but only before [r] or in the diphthong [o:i] like in "boy". In terms of the words mentioned by Shogo here's how I say them:
"drawer" [dro:r] this is for the noun as in the clothes holder. Interestingly enough "Someone who draws" is pronounced [dra:..r].
"drawing" is [dra:i:N].
From what I've noticed at least half the USA doesn't make a distinction between these two words. I notice it most when I hear newscasters from the East Coast or older people. On a slightly off-topic note for any of you Americans here, do you notice your vowels changing before the velar nasal [N] (as in "sing" or "sang"?). My vowels in these cases usually raise. Thus, I don't have [@N] but always [eiN]. Similarly, it's not [iN] but [i:N] (as you might've noticed in my transcription of "drawing"). "sang" isn't [s@N], but [seiN]. This is something I've noticed most people do here as well, and it's barely noticeable, but still there. I've heard people from other states doing this as well but I'm not sure how widespread it is. The only time this rule doesn't apply is when [N] is merely assimilating to the following velar consonant (and is analyzed as part of a separate morpheme). For instance, "ink" is [i:Nk], but "income" is [iNk..m]. Similarly, "pang" is [peiN] but "pancake" is [p@Nkeik].
Drawer as on a dresser is pronounced [dro:r] for me. Drawer as someone that draws is pronounced [dra:..r] for me.
Thank you guys for your answers. So for many of those who dont make a distinction between aw and ah, drawer as on a dresser is pronounced /dro:r/. So is this said with one syllable like door, sore etc?
Kirk, thanks for your information on /N/ sound... yeah to me the vowel sound that can be before /N/ seems to be quite limited... for example, there's no word with the actual /i:/ and /N/ combination except /iN/ can be pronounced /i:N/.
Steve, thanks for your answer and information. I've got another question... I heard some people pronounce the word "alright" without a distinct l sound, more or ess like "aw-right". Do you all pronounce it like "ah-right" or "Or-right?"
All right [a:l rait]. Maybe if I was talking really fast it would come out more like ''ah-right''.
This is how this sentence comes out in my accent and how it comes out in the British Accent.
I caught the ball on the tennis court.
My accent- [ai ka:t TH.. ba:l a:n TH.. tenis ko:rt]
British accent- [ai ko:t TH.. bo:l on TH.. tenis ko:rt]
British accent- [ai ko:t TH.. bo:l on TH.. tenis ko:t]
Steve, thank you so much for the information. So even tho many Americans dont have the "aw" sound, it stays almost always /o:/ before an r. (like court/ko:rt/)
Now I've got another question. (Sorry to ask you so many questions in a row... but these vowel things are really hard but interesting for a non-native speaker like me)
you said drawer as in a person who draws(not the one on the closet) is pronounced /da:..r/. since there's a schwa between /a:/ and /r/, i can imagine this is a two-syllable word. How would this /a:/ and /..r/ combination be different from the dipthong /a:r/?(as in park/pa:rk/)
Yeah, it might seem weird, but ''drawer'' is pronounce ''drah-er'' by people that don't make a distinguishment between ''ah'' and ''aw''.
Thank Steve! I really appreaciate your help. Since it's not distinguished by many native speakers, I guess I dont have to worry about distinguishing them as a non-native speaker... anyway thanks again for your answers!:D