cot/caught on the street

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Tue Jul 1 14:30:52 UTC 2008

On Tue, Jul 1, 2008 at 10:03 AM, Arnold M. Zwicky <zwicky at>
> vanity license plate on a car parked in downtown palo alto yesterday:
> presumably, the cot/caught merger, in favor of open-o.  for me, it'd
> be RAHK AWN.  but maybe the open-o appears only in this expression,
> under the influence of the vowel of "on".

We had some extensive discussion of the "rawk" phenomenon in Feb. '05, starting

As I wrote at the time, "For speakers who haven't merged 'cot' and 'caught',
'rawk' suggests an exaggerated pronunciation that might be associated with
young male fans of hard rock (possibly also evoking 'raw' or 'raucous')."

--Ben Zimmer

The American Dialect Society -

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