How is pho really pronounced?

Paul Johnston paul.johnston at WMICH.EDU
Sun Oct 21 00:00:11 UTC 2012

I thought it was an unrounded [o], IPA [ɤ]--a high-mid unrounded back vowel.  As far as I know, Vietnamese doesn't have front rounded vowels, but it has a whole series of back unrounded ones.  The closest American English equivalent would be a Southern pronunciation of cup, but that's too far front.

Paul Johnston
On Oct 18, 2012, at 8:28 PM, Arnold Zwicky wrote:

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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Arnold Zwicky <zwicky at STANFORD.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: How is pho really pronounced?
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> On Oct 18, 2012, at 4:19 PM, Michael Newman <michael.newman at QC.CUNY.EDU> wrote:
>> The closest approximation in English to the Vietnamese I think is [=C9=9C]=
>> . Think of the bird vowel without the rhoticity
> i don't k now how to decode this formatting, but i assume this is turned epsilon (like wedge / turned v, but central rather than back).
> wedge / turned v is then the closest English phoneme, so it's no surprise that Wiktionary gives that transcription.
> but the English wedge phoneme occurs in accented word-final position only in expressive words like "duh".  so English speakers are moved to use something else that's more native.  /a/ or open o would be not too distant -- but the Vietnamese writing system uses the letter |o| (with diacritics) for this vowel, so people are inclined to go for /o/.
> arnold
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