which sound is more prevalent in USA English, short a (as in cat) or "ah" sound

Tom Zurinskas truespel at HOTMAIL.COM
Tue May 5 01:59:51 UTC 2009

Someone asked which is more prevalent in English, the short a sound ~a (as in "cat,bag") or the "ah" sound ~aa (as in "father,mom"). This comparison is available in my books. The beauty of truespel is that it allows spreadsheet analyses to make these comparisons.

In truespel book 1 of there is a list of 59k words. This list is evaluated for the prevalence of phonemes. It found that the words containing these sounds were:

~a       ~aa
8,869   7,739

So the sound ~a (as in "and" ~and) is more prevalent than the sound ~aa (as in "car" ~kaar) in this large word list.  But that doesn't take into account word popularity in text.  The below study does.

In truespel book 4 (a count of the top 5k words in text), the sounds are also compared.  The top 5k words elicit 15.4 million occurrences in text.  The number of times the two sounds appear in text is below.

~a             ~aa
1,837,615    787,179

This comparison is a word popularity count. It shows that the sound ~a is more than twice as prevalent as the sound ~aa in text. This is due to some very popular words containing the ~a sound (such as "and", "at" "as" "have")

Both analyses show that ~a is more prevalent than ~aa in USA English.  More such data as this is available from these books.

Tom Zurinskas, USA - CT20, TN3, NJ33, FL5+
see truespel.com
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