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Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Speech Sounds

While indulging my fascination with linguistics, I came across an interesting tidbit related to phonetics.

Apparently, when Canadians say the words "caught" and "cot", there's no difference in pronunciation. And yet the two are pronounced differently in both British and American English. The reason? A phenomenon called Canadian raising, in which the sounds of diphthongs, such as "au", are changed when they precede voiceless consonants like the letter "t".

Try it yourself and see.


  • At 6/01/2005 04:09:00 p.m., Blogger cncz said…

    i always thought british people pronounced caught, court and cot the same way...

    the one big difference between my talk and my best Canadian friend's talk is that she makes a difference between pin and pen. I don't. how canadian is your accent? :-)

  • At 6/01/2005 04:35:00 p.m., Blogger Safiyyah said…

    Cncz, are you saying 'pin' and 'pen' are pronounced the same way?! When I pronounce them, there's a clear distinction between the two sounds...if that makes me stereotypically Canadian, well, not much I can "aboot" it.

  • At 6/01/2005 04:41:00 p.m., Anonymous Anonymous said…


    Maybe depends on which region of the US you're from. I'm from the West, but have spent more than 50% of my life in the NYC area and there is definitely a diff. b/t "pen" and "pin" to me. "Cot" and "caught," that depends. Someone from Boston might say the former very differently than a NY'er, and the NY'er might say the latter VERY differently than another American.

    I once read an article by a Canadian about how we Americans speak and felt it was way off base -- the guy only had (apparently) experience in listening to TV Americans or Americans from one particular region. -- UZ

  • At 6/01/2005 06:00:00 p.m., Blogger Chimichanga said…

    OMG! I thought I was the only one NOT making any difference between "pin" and "pen". Yes, Safiyyah, they are pronounced the same way.. at least at some places. now that I got a friend (cncz)who prounces them the same way

  • At 6/01/2005 06:35:00 p.m., Anonymous ummhana said…

    Texas here...and personally I pronounce cot and caught the same way as well as pin and pen. I personally enjoy listening to Canadian's accent. Anything is better than listening to a true Texan drawl...."Ya'll come back naw ya here!"


  • At 6/01/2005 07:18:00 p.m., Blogger cncz said…

    evidently the pen and pin thing is typically southern, which i forgot to mention for fear of doing too much self-publicity! :-)

    my accent is actually rather particular to southeast louisiana/south mississippi. think britney spears. scary.

  • At 6/01/2005 07:27:00 p.m., Blogger Asmaa said…

    Assalaamu alaikum Safiyyah

    What course is that from?

  • At 6/02/2005 02:43:00 a.m., Anonymous Yusuf Smith said…

    As-Salaamu 'alaikum,

    : i always thought british people pronounced caught, court and cot the same way...:

    Caught and court yes (I've seen signs in shops saying "Thieves get court!"), but the O in cot is short and pronounced high in the mouth.

  • At 6/02/2005 02:35:00 p.m., Anonymous George Carty said…

    Well I'm from northern England - my o in cot is roughly halfway between BBC English and American English, while my au in caught is the same sound, only longer.


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