-g, -ng, -s endings in American English

Jim   Monday, May 17, 2004, 04:27 GMT
"Afterwards I thought ..." not "though".
Ryan   Monday, May 17, 2004, 06:11 GMT
Jim, there's no linguistic rule that spreads across the whole US. The difference in pronunciation of words with the [a:] vowel or the [o:] vowel is one of the markers of American dialects, and it's difficult to say what it is in "standard" dialect too, as most Americans are not even aware that people pronounce "on" differently depending on what part of the country one is from, and people in many different states that actually speak differently think that they are the ones that speak "standard dialect."
Ben   Monday, May 17, 2004, 13:17 GMT
I would say that standard American English (by which I mean the English that is spoken by Broadcasters) tends to round the o in on slightly--/o/. The pronunciation "ahn" would definitely stick out to me if I heard it as a Northern regional pronunciation.
Ryan   Monday, May 17, 2004, 17:26 GMT
I'm always a little wary when people talk about "broadcast" American English. Most of the broadcasters on ESPN talk with something approaching a New York accent (especially that Linda Cohn). Even the national broadcasters talk differently. Michael Moore once joked that the only thing that was still Canadian about Peter Jennings is the way he pronounces his words, like pronouncing his last name /mu:r/ instead of /mOur/ like most Americans would.
Smith   Monday, May 17, 2004, 18:44 GMT
Most Americans pronounce ''Moore'' as [mo:r].
Ben   Monday, May 17, 2004, 20:49 GMT
Yes, but LOCAL newscasters definitely make an extremely concerted effort to speak in a sort of uniform way (although you usually will find a couple of regional "slip-ups" in the way they talk).
Smith   Monday, May 17, 2004, 21:10 GMT
Quote-''Afterwards I thought that I might have got it wrong with "on" but this illustrates the difficulty I have with guessing what something would sound like in a North American accent. Does anyone know whether there is a general rule by which a North American chooses between [a:], [o:] and [^] when the rest of us say [o]?''

Well, this is how Truespel respells this sentence. I make no distinction between [a:] and [o:].

''I just bought a dog at the store today when I picked up a table cloth and saw a moth and they coughed and then some people got some coffee from the coffee store and it sure was a long day today and oh what a long day it was because they went from there to over there and saw the cold frost and there boss and it costs five dollars to buy that cot that they got caught sleeping on yesterday of comfortable coverings.''

Comes out as,

''Ie just baut u daug at thu stor tuddae wen Ie pikd up u taebool klauthh and sau u mauthh and thae kaufd and then sum peepool gaat sum kaufee frum thu kaufee stor and it sher wuz u laung dae tuddae and oe wut u laung dae it wuz beekkuz thae went frum thair tue oever thair and sau thu koeld fraust and thair baus and it kausts fiev daalerz tue bie that kaat that thae gaat kaut sleeping aan yesterdae uv kumfterbool kuvereengz''

I think that when ''o'' is pronounced as [^] in North America it's just an exception. ''What'', ''was'' ''from'' etc. Are just exceptions. I pronounce ''was'', ''want'' ''what'', ''of'' and ''from'' with an [^] but pronounce most others with [a:].
Ryan   Monday, May 17, 2004, 22:49 GMT
If you make no distinction between [a:] and [o:], then why do the words "bought" and "on" come out differently when spelled phonetically?
Smith   Monday, May 17, 2004, 23:24 GMT
They're coming out the way they come out in the truespel convertor. It's not my spelling but truespel's.
Jim   Tuesday, May 18, 2004, 00:05 GMT
Thanks for the Truespel version. I still can make neither heads nor talis of the choice between /a:/ and /o:/ though. There are some spelling systems (probably designed by someone from Western USA) which make no such distinction. Truespel is good in this regard though it doesn't seem to recoginse /o/ ... actually I think you could probably Truespel /o/ as <o> it's just that I've never seen anything but an American accent spelt in their system.

Just for comparision's sake I'll respell the sentence according to my system. Of course my system is different to Truespel but you should be able to see where I make the distinctions between /a:/, /o:/, /^/ and /o/.

''I just baut a dog at dha stoar tyday when I pikd up a taibyl cloth and saw a moth and dhay cofd and dhen sum peepyl got sum cofy from dha cofy stoar and it shor woz a long day tyday and o whot a long day it woz bycaus dhay went from dhair tu oaver dhair and saw dha coald frost and dhair bos and it costs fiev dolerz tu bi dhat cot dhat dhay got caut sleeping on yesterday ov cumftybyl cuverings.''

In case you're wondering here are the spellings I'm using for those vowels.

/a:/ ==>> <aa>
/o:/ ==>> <au> or <aw>
/^/ ==>> <u>
/o/ ==>> <o>
Eng   Tuesday, May 18, 2004, 00:09 GMT
Jim, In the state of New England which is in the East ''caught'' and ''cot'' are pronounced the same.
Jim   Tuesday, May 18, 2004, 00:40 GMT
Well, there goes that theory.
mjd   Tuesday, May 18, 2004, 02:46 GMT
The majority of us on the East Coast don't pronounce them (cot/caught) the same (certainly not here in the NYC metro area). When I hear someone speak like that, I automatically think of the Midwest.
Brit.   Tuesday, May 18, 2004, 03:10 GMT
warm (wo:rm) as caught (ko:t)

cot (ka:t) as laughed (la:ft)
Ryan   Tuesday, May 18, 2004, 07:48 GMT
New Englanders and Westerners do not merge "caught and cot" into the same vowel. The New Englanders merge it into a vowel much more like /o/ than /a:/

When you say "Midwest," do you mean like Michigan and Chicago, mjd? There is no way that we pronounce "cot" and "caught" the same way. That is mostly a western phenomenon, although the vowels are merged in Pittsburgh.

Most Canadians merge the vowels too. It's not just an American thing.