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View Full Version : Do you pronounce "cot" and "caught" with different vowels, and if so...


matt_mcl
02-13-2006, 05:10 AM
...which vowel do you use in "Los" as in "Los Angeles"?

Sage Rat
02-13-2006, 05:17 AM
All the same to me.

flodnak
02-13-2006, 05:36 AM
All three are different to me. The "o" in Los Angeles is about half-way between the other two.

jabiru
02-13-2006, 05:38 AM
I pronounce the 'o' in cot and Los in the same way. Caught is more 'cawt'.

Cunctator
02-13-2006, 05:41 AM
Yes I pronounce cot and caught with different vowels.

Cot rhymes with not, pot, lot, spot etc.

Caught rhymes with thought, nought, taught, bought etc.

In Los Angeles I use a vowel that's pretty much the same as "cot". Perhaps a tiny bit more closed.

chiroptera
02-13-2006, 06:17 AM
Longer "a" in caught.
I think pronouncing them the same is more common in the US; I moved here from Scotland and this was one of the pronounciation difference I noticed.

Sgt.Pepper
02-13-2006, 06:32 AM
Yes I pronounce cot and caught with different vowels.

Cot rhymes with not, pot, lot, spot etc.

Caught rhymes with thought, nought, taught, bought etc.

In Los Angeles I use a vowel that's pretty much the same as "cot". Perhaps a tiny bit more closed.

Wait, this may be because I'm just getting up, but the words in the 'cot' list rhyme with words from the 'caught' list. In fact, 'not' and 'naught' are pronounced the same, are they not? I wonder if these are just more examples of what the op has brought up.

To me they're all the same.

Dusty
02-13-2006, 07:31 AM
They're all three different. "Caught (http://m-w.com/cgi-bin/audio.pl?catch002.wav=caught)" rhymes with "taught", "cot (http://m-w.com/cgi-bin/audio.pl?cot00001.wav=cot)" rhymes with "spot". The "Los" in Los Angeles is somewhere between the two, but nearer "caught".


...'not' and 'naught' are pronounced the same, are they not?To me? Yes, they are not; they're not even similar. But I hear some places even pronounce "pin" and "pen" the same, so what do I know?

Thudlow Boink
02-13-2006, 07:53 AM
In fact, 'not' and 'naught' are pronounced the same, are they not?Do you pronounce "naughty" and "knotty" the same?

Richard Pearse
02-13-2006, 08:19 AM
Wait, this may be because I'm just getting up, but the words in the 'cot' list rhyme with words from the 'caught' list. In fact, 'not' and 'naught' are pronounced the same, are they not? I wonder if these are just more examples of what the op has brought up.

To me they're all the same.

See this is the problem with comparing the pronunciation of words to other words that rhyme. Chances are that if a population pronounce cot and caught the same way, then they'll pronounce everything else that rhymes with both words the same way as well.

I pronounce caught like court. Is court the same as cot to you as well?

I pronounce los to rhyme with cot.

Omega Glory
02-13-2006, 08:25 AM
I agree with Dusty 100%. All three are different. Pen/pin and naught/not are different too.

Zeldar
02-13-2006, 08:30 AM
Here's (http://cfprod.imt.uwm.edu/Dept/FLL/linguistics/dialect/staticmaps/q_28.html) what a survey found on this issue.

WhyNot
02-13-2006, 08:41 AM
cot="kaht"*
caught="kawt"
los="lawse" (Sounds just like loss)

*Chicagoian, born and bred. This one even makes me wince, it's so flat and harsh. 'Da Bearsh!

twickster
02-13-2006, 09:13 AM
What WhyNot said -- and I have a fairly generic East Coast accent.

MrDibble
02-13-2006, 09:20 AM
cot and caught are different, and Los is like neither
cot rhymes with pot
caught rhymes with fraught
and Los sounds a little bit like "lows" but with a softer "s"
Does that make any sense?

What Exit?
02-13-2006, 09:22 AM
Yes I pronounce cot and caught with different vowels.

Cot rhymes with not, pot, lot, spot etc.

Caught rhymes with thought, nought, taught, bought etc.

In Los Angeles I use a vowel that's pretty much the same as "cot". Perhaps a tiny bit more closed.
NY/NJ guy here. I use the same pronunciations.

BobLibDem
02-13-2006, 09:25 AM
Caught has the same vowel sound as "lost".


Cot has a shorter vowel sound, like not and pot.

To me it's "cot" and "cawt" for "cot" and "caught".

TheLoadedDog
02-13-2006, 09:31 AM
I pronounce the 'o' in cot and Los in the same way. Caught is more 'cawt'.
This fellow Sydneysider says them the same way.

However, based on the concern raised that rhyming comparisons are going to be possibly worthless because of their being pronounced similarly by any given local population, I'll try to "think like an American" here. For mine, I pronounce both 'cot' and 'Los' the with the same 'o' sound an American with a generic 'newscaster' non-regional accent would pronounce the first 'o' in "Boston". It's 'kot' and 'Loss Angeleez' to me. I have, however, heard Americans say "Lows Angeles", which while closer (to my ears) to the proper Spanish, is also a little exaggerated. The Spanish 'Los' is just a fraction shorter and less full.

Paranoid Randroid
02-13-2006, 09:34 AM
I pronounce "caught" with a slightly nasal effect, and hold it just the tiniest bit longer, I think. "Cot" has the same vowel sound as "off" or the first part of "mafia", and, incidentally, the "los" in "Los Angeles".

Pushkin
02-13-2006, 09:35 AM
I pronounce the 'o' in cot and Los in the same way. Caught is more 'cawt'.

Yeah, that's the phonetic explanation I was seeking.

Paranoid Randroid
02-13-2006, 09:35 AM
I pronounce "caught" with a slightly nasal effect, and hold it just the tiniest bit longer, I think. "Cot" has the same vowel sound as "off" or the first part of "mafia", and, incidentally, the "los" in "Los Angeles".

Oh, yes - and I'm a midwestern American. Northern Kentuckian most of my life; central Kentucky for the past four and a half years.

Angel of the Lord
02-13-2006, 09:55 AM
"Cot" is a little more o-sounding than "caught." Also, it kinda sounds like "cut," at least a little. "Caught" is more nasal-sounding. Also, for whatever reason, when I say "cot," my inflection goes down. When I say "caught," it goes up.

The "Los" in "Los Angeles," however, I pronounce as. . .well, the same way that one would pronounce "Los Lobos." Long o, closer to "coat" than to either "cot" or "caught" (if we're sticking with the c-t theme). I have five years of Spanish that won't let me pronounce it any other way.

As for background. . .grew up in the Chicago area, with my pronunciations influenced by my Chicago-born father and my Ottawa-born French-Canadian mother.

RealityChuck
02-13-2006, 10:01 AM
For me:

cot = caht
caught = cawt

Los Angeles -- same vowel sound as caught: Lawce

Sunspace
02-13-2006, 10:35 AM
I pronounce all the O-sounds in cot, caught and Los the same. Los = loss, as well. Naughty and knotty are the same, and they have an almost-d sound instead of t, unless I think about it.

Incidentally, I pronounce the second word in Los Angeles "an-jell-less". Is this not how Angeleños pronounce it? (And is that the proper name for an inhabitant of LA? "Los Angelesian" doesn't seem right for some reason.)

Lama Pacos
02-13-2006, 11:27 AM
Cot, caught, knotty, naughty, taught, spot, Los-- all the same vowel for me.

Lama Pacos
02-13-2006, 11:28 AM
I should clarify-- I only pronounce Los like that when used in Los Angeles. For, say, Los Alamos, I pronounce the Los similarly to the correct Spanish way. For some reason, though, for Los Angeles, I have it homophone to "loss".

PoorYorick
02-13-2006, 11:39 AM
Here's (http://cfprod.imt.uwm.edu/Dept/FLL/linguistics/dialect/staticmaps/q_28.html) what a survey found on this issue.
Interesting map. Since the results are all over the map (sorry for the pun), it looks like this isn't a regionalism at all. What else could it be? Familial dialect?

Zeldar
02-13-2006, 12:00 PM
Interesting map. Since the results are all over the map (sorry for the pun), it looks like this isn't a regionalism at all. What else could it be? Familial dialect?

That's what I wondered. Must be more than region at least. Somebody pointed out in a similar thread yesterday that region-to-region migrations may contribute to the variants. Another opinion I liked (in a still older thread about how *shone* ought to be pronounced) has to do with how we hear those sounds, as though our pronunciation is tied intimately to the way we perceive the sounds ourselves.

The idea that we tend to mimic the sounds made by people in our region whose pronunciations we prefer may account for multiple versions in the same basic locale.

I feel that all these ingredients are at play in the section of Tennessee where I have been since 1959.

Even within my own family there are significant variations. Some of that may be the influence of TV and other nation-wide influences.

Bambi Hassenpfeffer
02-13-2006, 12:12 PM
...which vowel do you use in "Los" as in "Los Angeles"?
Caught <> los <> cot. Los is somewhere between the two.

What Exit?
02-13-2006, 12:19 PM
Caught <> los <> cot. Los is somewhere between the two.
Funny, I just realized I say Las Angelas (almost a short a sound) but Lós Alamos (long O).

Ice Wolf
02-13-2006, 12:25 PM
Different sounds, "cot" and "Los" sounding very similar, here in New Zealand. Following the English pattern, "cot" and "caught" sound different to each other.

glee
02-13-2006, 12:34 PM
Strewth! Blimey! Crikey!

Over this side of the pond, it's:

'caught' = 'taught' or 'taut' or 'port'

'cot' = 'hot' or 'knot'

'Los (Angeles)' = 'loss' or 'boss'

I blame the Romans, the Greeks, the Angles, the Saxons, the French etc...

Happy Lendervedder
02-13-2006, 12:45 PM
cot="kaht"*
caught="kawt"
los="lawse" (Sounds just like loss)

*Chicagoian, born and bred. This one even makes me wince, it's so flat and harsh. 'Da Bearsh!

This is how I say them all too. I'm a native Detroiter. Except I think I'm even flatter and harsher in my pronounciation of "cot" than Chicagoans, if that's possible (I've had people in Chicago call me "really nasal;" I'm like, "Have you listened to yourself lately?")

StGermain
02-13-2006, 12:46 PM
Cot = caht
caught = cawt

Sunspace - A resident of Los Angeles is call an Angelino.

I was born in Michigan and have also lived in Minnestota, Ohio and Tennessee.

StG

middleman
02-13-2006, 12:53 PM
...which vowel do you use in "Los" as in "Los Angeles"?

I pronounce Los Angeles "LOSS Angeles."

I pronounce cot as a word that rhymes with got.
Caught rhymes with bought. The vowels have an aww sound.

I am from the South and I cannot properly pronounce the word "pie."

amarinth
02-13-2006, 03:13 PM
caught and cot are the same vowel (West coast US. Sooner or later, all vowels will become a schwa.) - but "Los" is an "Oh".

Spectre of Pithecanthropus
02-13-2006, 04:24 PM
LOSS Angeles

cot /= caught. From reading this thread I gather that it should be the same based on where I'm from, but my parents were both born elsewhere. AFAIK the cot/caught type of differentiation is phonemically negligible, in that the difference is not something we need to detect in order to understand what the person is saying. Context will always provide the answer.

Now that pop/soda/coke thing...there's something where you really do have to be consciously aware of the regional meanings if you travel about the country.

Kyla
02-13-2006, 06:15 PM
All the same sound for me. LOSS Angeles, too, unless I'm speaking Spanish.

Northern Californian, born and bred. (But my parents are both Angelenos and that's how they pronounce the "los", too.)

Kyla
02-13-2006, 06:23 PM
Addendum: the only times I've ever had communication problems with my friends here in the Midwest it was because of words with this sound. ("pond/pawn" and "Dawn/Don" were the culprits, respectively.)

jsc1953
02-13-2006, 07:36 PM
Cot, caught, knotty, naughty, taught, spot, Los-- all the same vowel for me.

Ditto for me -- a native Californian. Although I realize that I'm not pronouncing "Los" properly; when I say "Los Lobos" I use a different pronunciation than I do for "Los Angeles" (which sounds like Loss Angelus). The name of the city has become widely de-spanishified.

rocking chair
02-13-2006, 07:49 PM
i'm with glee, on cot and caught. with jsc1953 on los angeles.

Sunspace
02-13-2006, 11:18 PM
Strewth! Blimey! Crikey!

Over this side of the pond, it's:

'caught' = 'taught' or 'taut' or 'port'

'cot' = 'hot' or 'knot'

'Los (Angeles)' = 'loss' or 'boss'To me, the vowels in all of those are the same... except for 'port', which has the O in boat just before the R sound.

Thanks for clarifying 'Angelino', StGermain. Is that pronounced 'ann-jell-ee-no'?

middleman, what words do you rhyme 'pie' with? For me, it sounds like 'paa-ee', but shorter, and rhymes with 'my', 'buy', 'sly', 'lie', etc.

Speaking of Southern, I remember going to a course in Cincinnati for my company. There were people there for further south, and I was quite confused when speaking with one of them, until I realised that his pronunciation of 'pin' was the same as mine for 'pen' (or the other way around--I can't remember now).

Sternvogel
02-14-2006, 12:37 AM
Thanks for clarifying 'Angelino', StGermain. Is that pronounced 'ann-jell-ee-no'?

Actually, as per Kyla's post, it's spelled Angeleno (http://answers.com/angeleno&r=67). The pronunciation given on the linked page is essentially how I say the word (not that I have that much occasion to utter it). Of course, the fact that the original Spanish word is angeleño* means that I'd say "ahn-hel-AIN-yo" if attempting to carry on a conversation en español.

To answer the OP's question, I say cot as "kaht" and caught as "kawt", with the o in "Los Angeles" basically identical to the vowel sound in caught. However, I say Los Alamos "Loce Alamoce", and Los Lobos just as I would if dusting off the Spanish I last studied in 1977.

* Although the word is rendered as Angeleño on the linked page, my teachers of Spanish often repeated the following exhortation to the students: "ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS capitalize countries. NEVER, NEVER, NEVER capitalize nationalities." By extension, the rule applies to provinces, cities, and the like, as opposed to residents of such political jurisdictions. Thus, I've opted for angeleño, just as the word for "Spanish" is español and not Español.

elfkin477
02-14-2006, 12:49 AM
They're all three different. "Caught (http://m-w.com/cgi-bin/audio.pl?catch002.wav=caught)" rhymes with "taught", "cot (http://m-w.com/cgi-bin/audio.pl?cot00001.wav=cot)" rhymes with "spot".

Since Caught and Cot, and Taught and Tot are (each pair) the same, they all four rhyme with Spot and Got. On the other hand, Mary, Merry and Marry are all different. Go figure. (the dialect survey makes note of these two trends - people usually think one set is the same and the others not) Los and Loss are the same as each other, but not the same as caught/cot or taught/tot - like Moss, actually.

YaWanna
02-14-2006, 02:34 PM
I say "cot" & "caught" the same.

I took Spanish classes from the 5th or 6th grade on through my first year of college. I can't stand it when someone says "Los" in Los Angeles or Los Lobos as if it was "Las". The Portland deejays are always saying "Las Lobos" or "Las Angeles (An-juh-lis)" and it grates on my nerves.

To me, it will always be "Los" the way it's pronounced in Spanish (the "o" rhymes with "toast", only not as drawn out).

Sunspace
02-14-2006, 04:07 PM
Since Caught and Cot, and Taught and Tot are (each pair) the same, they all four rhyme with Spot and Got. On the other hand, Mary, Merry and Marry are all different. Go figure. (the dialect survey makes note of these two trends - people usually think one set is the same and the others not) Los and Loss are the same as each other, but not the same as caught/cot or taught/tot - like Moss, actually.Mary, Merry, and Marry are the same for me. :)

Governor Quinn
02-14-2006, 09:28 PM
Not only do I pronounce "cot", "caught", and "Los" the same, but I have trouble hearing the differences when people try to pronounce them differently.

matt_mcl
02-14-2006, 09:44 PM
Thanks for the information, folks! FYI, Canadian English pronounces "cot" and "caught" the same, as well as "Mary," "merry," and "marry". Various American lects pronounce some combinations of these distinctly.

TheLoadedDog
02-15-2006, 06:47 AM
.. "Mary," "merry," and "marry". Various American lects pronounce some combinations of these distinctly.
Ditto Commonwealth English (except, it seems, the Canadian variety. :D ).

Mary rhymes with hairy, merry rhymes with very, and marry rhymes with Harry.

WhyNot
02-15-2006, 09:47 AM
Mary rhymes with hairy, merry rhymes with very, and marry rhymes with Harry.
All of those rhyme for me!

Colophon
02-15-2006, 02:22 PM
All of those rhyme for me!
That puts a whole new slant on "When Hairy met Sally"...

Southern England here, and not only are caught and cot different, but so are Mary, merry and marry. "Los" is close to "cot", but with a slightly less emphatic sound, presumably just because it is an unstressed syllable before "AN-geles".

Is there a shortage of vowel sounds over the other side of the Atlantic, or something? ;)

What I find strange is how, when phonetically spelling out these pronunciations, Americans tend to use the "A" vowel in "O" words, e.g. "cot" being pronounced "cAHt". Where's that A coming from? It's an O!

The AH sound, for me, comes from the back of the throat with the mouth wide open, whereas the short O in "cot" is more of a frontal sound, with the lips rounded.

If you've ever seen the BBC series Blackadder, think how Edmund says "Bob". That's a nicely exaggerated British "short O".

guizot
02-15-2006, 03:01 PM
I say "cot" & "caught" the same.

I took Spanish classes from the 5th or 6th grade on through my first year of college. I can't stand it when someone says "Los" in Los Angeles ... as if it was "Las".HAH!

Now tell me, how are you going to ask directions to Los Feliz Blvd., next time you're lost in LA?

Are you going to cling to your fancy Spanish classes, or get where you want to go?

(So there!)

Sunspace
02-15-2006, 03:06 PM
Is there a shortage of vowel sounds over the other side of the Atlantic, or something? ;) It's part of our nefarious plan to turn English into a pure-positional language with simplified grammar and spelling. Since we were unsuccessful in persuading people to adopt our new phonetic alphabet with enough letters to match the available sounds, we are now working on reducing the number of sounds to match the available letters. :)

Colophon
02-15-2006, 03:52 PM
It's part of our nefarious plan to turn English into a pure-positional language with simplified grammar and spelling. Since we were unsuccessful in persuading people to adopt our new phonetic alphabet with enough letters to match the available sounds, we are now working on reducing the number of sounds to match the available letters. :)

Ahs Brahts wahl nahvahr fahll fahr yahr nahfahrahahs Yahnkah plahns.

Sah thahr.

Sunspace
02-15-2006, 04:02 PM
Ahs Brahts wahl nahvahr fahll fahr yahr nahfahrahahs Yahnkah plahns.

Sah thahr.That's okay. I'm Canadian. I have right of abode over there in the UK. I like steak-and-kidney pie too. I'm already halfway in.

Colophon
02-15-2006, 04:27 PM
Yeah, I noticed you're from Canada, but after waiting five minutes for a reply box to appear, I gave up.

By the way, nobody in England eats steak and kidney pie. It's just a sneaky way of offloading unpleasant urine-based offal into the bellies of tourists.

WhyNot
02-15-2006, 05:24 PM
<snip>
Is there a shortage of vowel sounds over the other side of the Atlantic, or something? ;)
<snip>
We're having a vowel collection to donate some to the Welsh. That "y" is getting a little worn out!

:D

TheLoadedDog
02-15-2006, 07:21 PM
What I find strange is how, when phonetically spelling out these pronunciations, Americans tend to use the "A" vowel in "O" words, e.g. "cot" being pronounced "cAHt". Where's that A coming from? It's an O!.
That seems to be almost the basis of the American accent, at least to my ears. I know that whenever I hear people trying to impersonate an American, that's how they do it. "O" isn't the only vowel that Americans like to replace with an "A". It never fails to raise a chuckle amongst an Australian audience when we listen to an American TV reporter covering wildfires in California or Colorado, and they always mention "teams of far farters battling the blaze". Must be a new method of back burning or something. :D

irishgirl
02-16-2006, 05:54 AM
All three different. Sorry matt!

cot- sounds like not, hot, lot, rot, tot
caught- sounds like taught, bought,wraught, haughty, ought, nought
Los- like boss, toss, moss

The vowel in "cot" is more closed than the softer vowel sound in "Los".

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