How the OED pronounces "lot" and "cloth"

Paul Johnston paul.johnston at WMICH.EDU
Wed Oct 6 20:40:30 UTC 2010

Modern RP would have these as identical, and probably, hence, the identical pronunciation in OED, though really old RP speakers (and Cockneys) would not merge these vowels.  American dialects descended partially from Southern English varieties with the distinction in place, so they're different for most of us  unless TZ's bugaboo, the COT/CAUGHT merger has taken place, as CLOTH joins the CAUGHT class.  I have retracted [a] in the first, [O@~o@] in the second.

Paul Johnston
On Oct 6, 2010, at 4:28 PM, Joel S. Berson wrote:

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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       "Joel S. Berson" <Berson at ATT.NET>
> Subject:      How the OED pronounces "lot" and "cloth"
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> While checking the OED's pronunciation(s) of want, wont, won't -- and
> wa'n't, I found that the "Key for New Edition entries" pronounces
> "lot" and "cloth" identically.  I don't.  Lot is hot; cloth is
> moth.  And I do consider myself "among educated urban speakers of
> standard English in Britain and the United States."
> What say others in this cas[t]e?
> (I'm gratified, however, to see that the New Edition key uses only
> words from English, in contrast to the Second Edition key, which
> expects one to know how to pronounce the vowels of at least German --
> and for "foreign and non-southern" (non-Mediterranean? Or merely not
> the south of England?) consonants, also know the pronunciation of
> Italian, French, North German, and Afrikaans.)
> Joel
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