Why do dictionaries have three symbols for the same vowel?

Fre   Tue Jun 08, 2010 4:52 pm GMT
And why do they select certain words to put each symbol in? I'm talking about the "ah" sound.
Tony   Tue Jun 08, 2010 5:36 pm GMT
What vowel and symbols?
bob   Tue Jun 08, 2010 6:03 pm GMT
the "ah" sound?? That could be so many things. What language? Which vowels?
select the symbols here.
Fre   Tue Jun 08, 2010 6:32 pm GMT
Thaddeus   Tue Jun 08, 2010 6:33 pm GMT
You probably have both the father-bother merger and the cot-caught merger, I also have those mergers. In some varieties of English there actually are three different sounds, though to people with those mergers those three sounds will sound pretty much the same.
Fre   Tue Jun 08, 2010 7:01 pm GMT
That's interesting. Such a distinction with three different sounds seems alien to me.
merger   Tue Jun 08, 2010 7:11 pm GMT
Are you from the far West, North or South Dakota or Pennsylvania, or anywhere in Canada?
Thaddeus   Tue Jun 08, 2010 8:15 pm GMT
Here's a site with a map of where the cot-caught merger exists:

Thaddeus   Tue Jun 08, 2010 8:30 pm GMT
According to the map you have three distinct areas of merger in the United States. One in eastern New England, another that goes from western Pennsylvania down through most of West Virginia and southeastern Ohio to eastern Kentucky, and the third that covers nearly all of the western U.S.
Fre   Tue Jun 08, 2010 8:41 pm GMT
According to that map, I'm in one of the transitional areas.
Kess   Wed Jun 09, 2010 1:46 am GMT
Florida is mostly cot/caught merged these days.
Central Indiana and Central and Western Ohio too.
kevin   Wed Jun 09, 2010 5:01 am GMT
This M W dictionary uses the same symbol for all a's: [ ɑ ]


Hong Kong

they all have [ɑ ], like in American (South)West and St. John's NF, and unlike the rest of Canada and US EastCoast (where rounded [ɒ ] is preferred).
Vekin   Wed Jun 09, 2010 9:01 am GMT
Of course, M-W uses General American.
Fre   Wed Jun 09, 2010 9:11 am GMT
No it fucking doesnt, you stupid cunt.
Vekin   Wed Jun 09, 2010 12:17 pm GMT
Of course it does. In fact, the full M-W dictionary shows alternative pronunciations too.