View Poll Results: The vowel sound in "paw" and "bra" are:
The same 64 34.59%
Different 120 64.86%
Someone will vote "other" even though it's really a yes or no question. 1 0.54%
Voters: 185. You may not vote on this poll

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  #1  
Old 05-01-2018, 03:30 PM
Nars Glinley Nars Glinley is offline
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Pronunciation of the vowel sounds in "paw" and "bra".

While perusing the Wiki article on the English language, under the vowel section, I noticed that there are different Received Pronunciations for paw and bra. To my American midwestern ear and voice, there is no difference. According to the link for Open-mid back rounded vowel, I guess I'm saying "paw" incorrectly.

Are they the same or different when you speak them? Poll coming.
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Old 05-01-2018, 03:32 PM
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Sound the same to me. I'm from Northeast Ohio.
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Old 05-01-2018, 03:38 PM
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I'm also from NE Ohio. They are very different.
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Old 05-01-2018, 03:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Nars Glinley View Post
According to the link for Open-mid back rounded vowel, I guess I'm saying "paw" incorrectly.
It's not a matter of "correct" or "incorrect" -- in your particular American dialect, those two vowels are merged.

We've had a few past threads in here about the "caught/cot merger".
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Old 05-01-2018, 03:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nars Glinley View Post
While perusing the Wiki article on the English language, under the vowel section, I noticed that there are different Received Pronunciations for paw and bra. To my American midwestern ear and voice, there is no difference. According to the link for Open-mid back rounded vowel, I guess I'm saying "paw" incorrectly.

Are they the same or different when you speak them? Poll coming.
Very different.

My pronunciation is fundamentally Southern, with some mild adulterations from other places I've lived.

The southern "aw" sound is a diphthong, it changes as it goes. It starts off with the aaah sound like the a in "father" or as in "baa baa" (black sheep). Then it closes off to approximately the sound of the "o" in "boil" or "sore" except without the i or the r. So: aaaah....wwwwww

IPA: ɑɔ


For the sake of comparison, the folks around here (New York area) would also not pronunce "paw" and "bra" the same way. Their "aw" sound isn't like the Southern one. It isn't a diphthong. Up here they do the "aw" sound as a pure IPA ɔ

(It's like the first sound in "ordinary" but before the "r" comes in)


As for you, in order for "paw" and "bra" to have the same sound, you're probably pronouncing "awww" the same way you pronounce "aaahh", yes? So it has the same vowel sound as the a in father?
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Old 05-01-2018, 04:06 PM
Nars Glinley Nars Glinley is offline
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As for you, in order for "paw" and "bra" to have the same sound, you're probably pronouncing "awww" the same way you pronounce "aaahh", yes? So it has the same vowel sound as the a in father?
Yes. I pronounce all of those in the same manner.
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Old 05-01-2018, 04:18 PM
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To my American midwestern ear and voice, there is no difference.
To my own Midwestern-raised voice, they sound pretty different in my head.
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Old 05-01-2018, 04:26 PM
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Originally Posted by bordelond View Post
It's not a matter of "correct" or "incorrect" -- in your particular American dialect, those two vowels are merged.

We've had a few past threads in here about the "caught/cot merger".
Interestingly enough, I pronounce paw and bra the same, but not caught and cot.
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Old 05-01-2018, 04:34 PM
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Interestingly enough, I pronounce paw and bra the same, but not caught and cot.
Maybe having a consonant after the vowel makes a difference in your dialect.

Do your pronunciations of the name of the Egyptian sun god "Ra" and the adjective "raw" sound the same or different? How about "knot" and "nought"?
  #10  
Old 05-01-2018, 04:37 PM
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Ma and pa have a bra

But it's against the law to saw a paw

See different!
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  #11  
Old 05-01-2018, 04:39 PM
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In my southern dialect it's the *w* That makes it different. I say Grandpa not Grandpaw. Paw as in a dogs foot, you say the *w*. Bra is not braw. Think cobra. Imo.
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Old 05-01-2018, 05:48 PM
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Bra and paw sound different. Paw and Pa sound different. Ra and raw sound different.... However, cot and caught, tot and taught, and knot and nought sound the same. Thanks to a doper who did a recording, I've at least heard someone say -ot and -aught differently, but without context I had no idea which of the pair they were even saying when...
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Old 05-01-2018, 06:24 PM
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Bra, paw, law, ha, maw, nah, gah, ta-ta, flaw, awe, jaw, saw.... all the same.

cot, caught, taught, brought, hot, lot, aught, ought, bot, rot.... all the same.
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Old 05-01-2018, 06:38 PM
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I am sorry, bra and jaw do not sound alike. Similar but not the same. It's the *w*
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Old 05-01-2018, 06:49 PM
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The same, like father. It’s an a with an umlaut, phonetically.
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  #16  
Old 05-01-2018, 06:53 PM
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I get a kick out of people saying "It's the same sound as in 'X'" when, in fact, it's not the same at all for me. For example father and baa baa are totally different, and different from paw and Bra. Three distinct "A" sounds for me.

Paw and Bra are the same to me.
  #17  
Old 05-01-2018, 06:59 PM
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These four words have different "A" sounds in my pronunciation:

Father
Farther
Paw
Baa (Like the sheep, or cat.)
  #18  
Old 05-01-2018, 07:11 PM
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Originally Posted by DrCube View Post
Interestingly enough, I pronounce paw and bra the same, but not caught and cot.
Actually, I pronounce the vowel in paw the same as in caught, and bra is the same as cot.
  #19  
Old 05-01-2018, 07:13 PM
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Originally Posted by krondys View Post
Bra, paw, law, ha, maw, nah, gah, ta-ta, flaw, awe, jaw, saw.... all the same.

cot, caught, taught, brought, hot, lot, aught, ought, bot, rot.... all the same.
Jesus.
  #20  
Old 05-01-2018, 07:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Beckdawrek View Post
I am sorry, bra and jaw do not sound alike. Similar but not the same. It's the *w*
Do not sound alike in your particular region, is what you mean. These are pointless arguments, as regional accents and pronunciations differ.
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  #21  
Old 05-01-2018, 07:48 PM
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Do not sound alike in your particular region, is what you mean. These are pointless arguments, as regional accents and pronunciations differ.
Yes, I guess you're right. But *bra* just floors me. No one who wears one would say "I am putting on my braw."
We have 2 options here, call it a brassiere or don't wear one
  #22  
Old 05-01-2018, 08:25 PM
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Imagine that?

People have accents!
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Old 05-01-2018, 08:46 PM
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Not a native speaker of English; but I can definitely hear a difference in all pronounciations I've encountered. "Paw" sounds pretty much like the Swedish word p, while "bra" is pronounced very close to bra in Swedish.

(Neither word means the same thing).

Last edited by Ignotus; 05-01-2018 at 08:47 PM.
  #24  
Old 05-01-2018, 08:55 PM
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Ma and pa have a bra

But it's against the law to saw a paw
Same here, I'm from the northeast.
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Old 05-01-2018, 09:09 PM
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Ma and pa have a bra!
Only one between them?
  #26  
Old 05-01-2018, 09:46 PM
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Only one between them?
Sometimes it is, ...
  #27  
Old 05-01-2018, 09:52 PM
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I pronounce them the same.

Wow! I tried pronouncing "paw" the same way as Swedish "p" - that was an eye-opener for me, or at least a mouth-opener.

I feel like an honorary New Yorker - I'll have to go get a cup of cwoffee now.
  #28  
Old 05-01-2018, 11:02 PM
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I'm pretty sure one of the ways you can tell someone is faking an accent that doesn't have the merger is that they make both of them sound like the aw sound.

I personally recognize that there is a difference if I listen for it in others, and, when being very particular, think of them differently. But, in actual practice, I say them the same, as do most people I know.

I admit that I recognize the diphthong much more than the monophthong. The latter just sounds to similar to people who just don't open their mouth as wide. But the diphthong is unmistakable. I don't think of it as Southern, however; it sounds New York to me.
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Old 05-02-2018, 01:14 AM
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Imagine that?

People have accents!
I don't! It's just everyone else.
  #30  
Old 05-02-2018, 02:07 AM
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Originally Posted by Beckdawrek View Post
I am sorry, bra and jaw do not sound alike. Similar but not the same. It's the *w*
You may pronounce them differently, but a letter is not what makes the difference. Letters don't dictate pronunciation--otherwise, no one would be able to talk until they could read. You don't hear a "w." You hear someone's mouth, tongue, and vocal cords making sounds, and if you are from the same speech community, you will probably grow up producing the sounds in the same way. You are doing that regardless of how the words are spelled. By and large, letters on a page or pixels on a screen aren't determining your pronunciation.
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Old 05-02-2018, 02:42 AM
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Of course they're different. If you happen to live in a neighborhood where there is no difference in cot/caught or hock/hawk or sod/sawed, that is a dialectal outlier. Most Englilsh speakers would recognize that as a peculiarity.

There are always people in forums like this who live in New York City or BFE who come on here and tell us what it is in their neighborhood, but English, as a universal language, recognized the phonetic distinction between those two sounds and use it make the distinction between the two words..
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Old 05-02-2018, 03:23 AM
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I don't know if you guys have listened to a New Zealand accent such as I possess, but ivrythung sends duffrint wen we tawk.
  #33  
Old 05-02-2018, 03:54 AM
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If you happen to live in a neighborhood where there is no difference in cot/caught or hock/hawk or sod/sawed, that is a dialectal outlier.
Huge swaths of the US have merged. Unmerged probably wins by population, but merged isn't exactly an outlier.

Due to Hollywood influence, merged probably wins when it comes to US media output. And yet consumers of TV and movies hardly notice. It certainly doesn't stand out as a peculiarity.
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Old 05-02-2018, 05:26 AM
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The same and I'm really having a hard time imagining how to pronounce them differently. I'm from Southern California.

Last edited by drewder; 05-02-2018 at 05:26 AM.
  #35  
Old 05-02-2018, 06:07 AM
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I don't! It's just everyone else.
Exactly.
  #36  
Old 05-02-2018, 08:10 AM
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New England born and bred. It's "aaaaaaaa" the same to me.
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Old 05-02-2018, 08:14 AM
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Originally Posted by DrCube View Post
Interestingly enough, I pronounce paw and bra the same, but not caught and cot.
Define "the same" Is it paw & braw, or pa and bra?

In fact, I pose this question to everyone who said they pronounce the words the same.
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  #38  
Old 05-02-2018, 08:14 AM
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Originally Posted by krondys View Post
Bra, paw, law, ha, maw, nah, gah, ta-ta, flaw, awe, jaw, saw.... all the same.

cot, caught, taught, brought, hot, lot, aught, ought, bot, rot.... all the same.
This.
  #39  
Old 05-02-2018, 08:56 AM
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New England born and bred. It's "aaaaaaaa" the same to me.
Yeah, and you folks paaak ya caaaa in the same space.
  #40  
Old 05-02-2018, 09:05 AM
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The same and I'm really having a hard time imagining how to pronounce them differently. I'm from Southern California.
This link might help - click on the little speaker icon underneath the Swedish word "p" at right. That's very close to how many Americans pronounce "paw" -- Swedish speaker seems to make the lip rounding more tense than would be typical for English speakers -- that makes the Swedish vowel perhaps come off as "overdone" to an English-speaking listener. Then again, the Swedish speaker is pronouncing the word in isolation, not in the course of conversation -- that can have an effect (cf. English "the" said in isolation, and then how it's normally rendered in conversation).

This link might help, too -- a Swedish speaker alternating between "f" (English "get") and "fa" (fourth note on the major scale [do re mi fa ...]).
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Old 05-02-2018, 09:06 AM
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Maybe having a consonant after the vowel makes a difference in your dialect.

Do your pronunciations of the name of the Egyptian sun god "Ra" and the adjective "raw" sound the same or different? How about "knot" and "nought"?
No, those are all different too. I guess I've just always pronounced "bra" as if it were spelled "braw". I also pronounce ma and pa as if they were spelled maw and paw.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jasmine View Post
Define "the same" Is it paw & braw, or pa and bra?

In fact, I pose this question to everyone who said they pronounce the words the same.
Yeah, paw and braw. It's the same vowel sound, for me, as taught and taut, which are homophones. Rah-rah, bah, fa la la, would be the other vowel sound, as in tot. I have to say, I can't recall anyone saying "bra" as in "brassiere" like "rah". Except for Chicagoans who say all "a" sounds that way.

Am I the only one here who pronounces bra like paw, but hasn't merged cot and caught yet?
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Old 05-02-2018, 09:08 AM
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Originally Posted by Jasmine View Post
Define "the same" Is it paw & braw, or pa and bra?
As far as I'm aware, all American speakers who merge these two vowels make them all sound like the vowel you and I hear in "bra", "knot", "cot". And never like the vowel you and I speak & hear in "nought" and "caught".
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Old 05-02-2018, 09:13 AM
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I also pronounce ma and pa as if they were spelled maw and paw.
Me too Saying "Ma" as my dialect's "mah!" reminds me of Michael Keaton in Johnny Dangerously in the scenes where he is addressing his dear old mom. Keaton might have been trying to put on a Brooklynese accent for the role, but his real-life western Pennsylvania upbringing came through with every "Mah!".
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Old 05-02-2018, 09:41 AM
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As far as I'm aware, all American speakers who merge these two vowels make them all sound like the vowel you and I hear in "bra", "knot", "cot". And never like the vowel you and I speak & hear in "nought" and "caught".
Except that he was posing that question to someone who said he says "paw" and "bra" with the same vowel sound, but who pronounces "cot" and "caught" differently. That confused me also, but I suspect that he says "caught" with a different vowel sound than I use. I can't imagine someone saying "bra" with the sound I use for "caught." I don't think people would know what he was talking about.
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Old 05-02-2018, 09:47 AM
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Except that he was posing that question to someone who said he says "paw" and "bra" with the same vowel sound, but who pronounces "cot" and "caught" differently.
Right. His "Pa", "Ma", and "bra" are exceptions -- some of which I share in my own dialect. They may follow an open-syllable rule of some sort of another ... I haven't done the analysis.

For those that do pronounce "cot" and "caught" the same ... from the perspective of those of us who pronounce them differently, they pronounce both words like our "cot".
  #46  
Old 05-02-2018, 09:53 AM
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I can't imagine someone saying "bra" with the sound I use for "caught." I don't think people would know what he was talking about.
In conversation, there is no confusion. The differences in vowel quality we are discussing are really quite slight in the grand scheme.

My dialect has gotten me into trouble occasionally, though. Way back when, I worked at a pizza delivery joint. We had a special for a nine-topping pizza. When I was talking about it on the phone with a customer, she asked me what I meant by "non-toppings"
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Old 05-02-2018, 10:10 AM
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In conversation, there is no confusion. The differences in vowel quality we are discussing are really quite slight in the grand scheme.
I don't think in this case it would be - if I said "bra" with the same vowel sound I use for "caught," I really think people would be puzzled. They could probably figure it out if there were context clues, but on its own I think they wouldn't know what I was saying (at least those people who don't have the merger).
  #48  
Old 05-02-2018, 11:52 AM
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Totally distinguishable.
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  #49  
Old 05-02-2018, 03:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Icarus View Post
Ma and pa have a bra

But it's against the law to saw a paw

See different!
Exactly the same with me. I'm from Philly where even sad and bad don't rhyme. Nor do ran and fan.
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Old 05-02-2018, 04:31 PM
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I don't think in this case it would be - if I said "bra" with the same vowel sound I use for "caught," I really think people would be puzzled. They could probably figure it out if there were context clues, but on its own I think they wouldn't know what I was saying (at least those people who don't have the merger).
I would think you'd said "braw", perhaps after binge-watching lots of Outlander.
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