cot/caught on the street

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Tue Jul 1 15:02:51 UTC 2008

At 10:51 PM +0800 7/1/08, LanDi Liu wrote:
>Oh, good, caught/cot again!  I missed it last time, but had some
>observations that might be worth noting.
>I would say I'm basically a victim of the merger, but it doesn't feel
>absolutely complete, and it depends mostly on speed.  For me (and I
>wouldn't be surprised if this were true for many of you as well if you
>think about it), in normal speed speech the merger is complete.  But
>when isolating the words and saying them in a "strong form", there is
>a fairly clear division for most words.  A few words, like "on" go
>either way.  Both AHN and AWN are acceptable.  But other words
>definitely go to one side or the other.  "Rock" is definitely RAHK.
>"Long" is definitely LAWNG.  I couldn't accept RAWK or LAHNG.
>Do others have similar feelings?
>Another problem is whether your "short o" sound tends more toward [a]
>or [®ª], and whether the "aw" sound tends more toward [?] or [?] (or
>somewhere in between).

Oops.  We're back in the land of phonetic 
non-faithfulness.  I'm sure you didn't enter the 
last three vowel symbols in your message as 
box/question mark/question mark, but that's how 
they came out on my end.

LH, a [rak an] speaker

>On Tue, Jul 1, 2008 at 10:30 PM, Benjamin Zimmer
><bgzimmer at> wrote:
>>  ---------------------- Information from the 
>>mail header -----------------------
>>  Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>>  Poster:       Benjamin Zimmer <bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU>
>>  Subject:      Re: cot/caught on the street
>>  On Tue, Jul 1, 2008 at 10:03 AM, Arnold M. Zwicky <zwicky at>
>>  wrote:
>>>  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
>>  here:
>>  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 -
>Randy Alexander
>Jilin City, China
>My Manchu studies blog:
>The American Dialect Society -

The American Dialect Society -

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