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

Distinguishing Don and Dawn is also a NJ thing. Dawn has a diphthong, Don does not. I believe Don/Dawn is part of the Cot/Caught merger, which is notably not found in NYC.

NYC, New England, and New Jersey also lack the infamous Mary/merry/marry merger, distinguishing all three vowels. Say the phrase “fairy ferry” to yourself. Are they homophones? How about “I will tarry with Terry”? How about “Hairy Harry?”.

I will ride the fairy ferry with Hairy Harry and tarry with Terry. There are three different rhyming groups and none of the words are homophones. You got a problem with that?

Reported for not respecting his authoritah.

I did some recordings for Librivox a few years ago. It was all-volunteer then, and though I haven’t checked in lately, I don’t imagine that anything has changed in that regard.

From what I could tell, however, it did tend to attract people who had some kind of experience–perhaps radio broadcasting, or commercial/PSA announcing, or other such endeavors where you’re reading prepared copy into a microphone. Those weren’t the only readers though–there were some who just liked to read and record, and who were quite good at it. It was an interesting experience; maybe I should think about doing it again.

She doesn’t speak with a consistent NC accent, just a few words. That’s why I thought she might either be trained, or making an effort to lose her accent.


Seems like what we would call a Maryland accent, when I was growing up in PG Co. It seems to be an accent continuum that runs from southern New Jersey through the coastal lowlands around the Chesapeake Bay, and into the North Carolina coast. It appears to extend westward into parts of Appalachia too.

Do Baltimoreans say “Oh’un” with the dipthong, too? I can’t remember.

They sure do, Hon.

She wouldn’t necessarily need to have been trained, per se. Just living and working in another part of the country for a long enough time is sufficient for many.

Two of my friends from Georgia also say it that way, but they do have family across the Carolinas.

I had the same question about which varieties of English pronounce “on” this way, and Googling returned this thread as the top result.

I concur that at least some people from Georgia do say the word this way. A prominent example I recently noticed is the voice actor Sterling Holloway.

Can anyone more definitively demarcate the geographical regions in North America where this pronunciation is common?

I pronounce ‘on’ like ‘awn’ because I’m from the MidLantic region where this is common. From Maryland through the greater Philadelphia area, into that Murder-Durder mix of central PA accents and out into some part of Jersey until you get north far enough to be in Joysey you’ll hear it as ‘awn’. Then you get up to Boston and the people pronounce ‘awn’ as if it’s ‘on’. And when people say “Go ask Don about that” I have to say “Who’s Don”, resulting in some confusion until I figure out they mean “Ask Dawn about that”, not “Don”. But that’s hardly the worst way they mangle the language.

Where I’m hearing it wrong (on Winslet), is not on O as in “on”, its O as in “home”. It sounds almost Australian. Nobody else in the show does that.

Yeah, it sounds like someone faking an American accent of some kind.

Lol. Yes. I’m probably being overly critical of her because she’s been able to pull off a perfect general American accent for the last 25 years or so.

What I hear is pronouncing “on” as “owen”, mostly from the southern U.S.

@MrDibble had it right eight years ago - it’s a North Carolina thing. My Tarheel-born father and uncles all pronounce “on” to rhyme with “hone”.

Sure, but given the examples from Georgia, clearly the phenomenon isn’t restricted to North Carolina. I was hoping that someone might know the full extent of this dialectical feature.