In what dialect of English would words like "on" be pronounced "own" or "ohn"?

I found this great app called Librivox, where you can download and listen to public domain fiction read aloud by volunteers. In the case of a couple of Sherlock Holmes stories, the reader has an ordinary English language name, and sounds like a native speaker from somewhere in North America. When she says the word upon, though, it comes out sounding like “upun”, with the second vowel almost rhyming with “u” in club. More noticeable still was the word on pronounced like “ohwn” or “ohn”. She doesn’t always do this, but she does seem to do it more when the word is being spoken emphatically. So the Mormon pioneers in A Study In Scarlet, as she reads it, call out “Owhn, owhn to Zion!”

Otherwise, she speaks in what I perceive to be a very ordinary Mid-American accent, not particularly flavored with any regional accent, except possibly somewhere in the Midwest.

In answer to your title question, the Queen’s English (i.e., how the actual Queen talks).

I doubt whether she is your Librivox reader, though.

I sometimes say “on” to rhyme with “lawn.”

But I think most of the time, I say it to rhyme with… um… something else. I actually can’t think of a rhyme. It’s almost two syllables.

I can’t even think of something close except maybe a super-slangy pronunciation of “goin’.”

I’m from Appalachian (SE) Ohio.

I had a roommate once from Long Island. The way SHE said “lawn” is close to the way I say “on.” I never even noticed it until a couple of years ago when someone pointed it out, and I don’t think I’ve ever noticed anyone else saying it, so I don’t know if it’s common or idiosyncratic.

Who’s the reader? Are there any biographical details available about her?

Impure accent due to a gaelic ,eg Irish influence. eg Welsh… some Welsh people have a similar thick accent.
You don’t get the Irish comedians (Connolly) or documentaries ?

suggestion: They learnt gaelic accent as a child and they keep the (poor) pronunciation of the simple words… They got “Zion” correct because they learnt that later in life.

Billy Connolly is a Scot. Plus, he doesn’t speak any Gaelic at all. And Hiberno-English makes a sharp distinction between “on” and “own”. My impression is that Welsh speakers do as well.

Her name is Laurie Anne Walden, but I can’t seem to find any information her origin or heritage.

I listened to the first couple minutes of her reading of “The Adventure of the Copper Beeches”—didn’t hear her say “on” yet, but the accent sounds to me like it comes from somewhere in the southern US.

It’s a North Carolina accent (not a dialect, although that exists as well)

My father grew up in the country in east Texas near the Arkansas border (born 1925), and he said ON to rhyme with OWN.

“Put that book own the table.”

Nice research. I have a passing familiarity with Librivox but didn’t know they catalogued that info on the readers.

After listening to the first few minutes of “The Adventure of the Copper Beeches” I believe that she has either been trained or is self-trained to speak in a neutral “news anchor” accent but several words popped out in her native Carolina accent in all its glory: draw, aside, side, once.

I think all Librivox readers are volunteers - I doubt she’s professionally trained. Doesn’t sound it, to my ears at any rate.

I’m interesting in hearing how linguists define this, or if you made it up.

Except that I couldn’t identify the particular accent, that’s about what I thought too.

I noticed a couple of additional things about her pronunciation, which I think some of your examples hint at: certain diphthongs in neutral pronunciation are spoken with the second part nearly absent, so for example I comes out sounding almost like Ah. Also, the /æ/ sound as back seems to be articulated with the tongue a little higher.

I was going to suggest North Carolina just after reading the OP. :: Fist bump::

One of my undergrad profs (who I still keep in touch with) has a strong North Carolina accent and I heard her speaking when going through the first post. :slight_smile: We read Dante’s Inferno in her class, and she pronounced it kinda like DAWN-tay’s on-FAIR-no. I loved it and heard it maaaaany times and it’s honestly hard to not pronounce “inferno” that way now (sometimes it slips through).

Definitely a North Carolina accent- pinched Southern Thought at first it was educated West Virginia (not all Hillbillies) but then after a few more minutes it was identifiable. I shocked an Airline Pilot sitting at a table next us at London Gatwick a few years ago by guessing his origin in NC- and informing him that with his name (when he told me it and his proud Irish heritage) that his ancestors were Scots Irish settlers sent in to quell the Fenians. His accent is still in my mind and that clinched it.

She is somewhat modulated but you can hear her slip back into early habits from time to time. The old NC accent (I would guess she is in her fifties or older, not young anyway- the accent is becoming more generalised over the Carolinas, Virginias and surrounding areas.

To my (Southern English) ears the accent shows overlay from southern Scots (where I currently live) and Western Irish in its cadence and some vowel sounds.

I wouldn’t say you need what we would normally call “training” to do this.
My parents, for example, say “pin” and “pen” the same way, but I don’t, because I was taught to read phonetically, so I picked up that the words were different. There wasn’t really any training involved.

A lot of people with regional accents learn to code switch on their own, sometimes without even noticing that they do it.

They make a lot of jokes on Mad Men about people pronouncing Don (Don Draper) and Dawn (his secretary) names the same way. So maybe it’s a New York or New England sort of thing?

Whatever Cartman speaks.

It’s wrowng!