21 Jan

Does “cot” sound like “caught” to you?

In my dialect, “cot”, “Don”, and “collar” sound like “caught”, “Dawn”, and “caller”. I don’t say those word pairs differently. This is one characteristic of the Pacific Northwest Dialect. Do the characteristics mentioned in this article sound familiar to you? Some of them don’t sound like Seattle speech to me (that y-glide he describes in some of the vowels), but maybe I’m just not good at analyzing my own speech.

What I have noticed about Seattle-area speech over the years is a tendency to sound more Canadian in our vowel sounds than we used to. For example, I hear people say “sorry” with more of an “o”, less of an “ah”. This used to be the mark of a Canadian, but I hear it now in lots of younger Northwesterners. Have you noticed this too?

4 thoughts on “Does “cot” sound like “caught” to you?

  1. Dude. I *totally* do the y-glide thing they’re talking about in “bag” “gag”, etc. The merging of “beg” and “bag” is something my classmates and I noticed in a college class once; had a big discussion about it. Many of them said the two quite differently, but about as many said them just about the same as each other.

  2. I do hear some merging of bag and beg in my speech, I think, but it’s far from complete. Then again, it’s really hard to tell how I talk when I’m being self-conscious about it.

  3. I’ve noticed the y-glide, throughout the PNW, but it seems slightly more rural than “Seattle-area”. For example, a guy who lives along the Oregon coast that says his name as Grayg.

    The other thing about the ah/aw vowels is that in the NW, we merge them differently than they do in the NE. I (from Oregon) tried to say that these rhymed once (I say “ah” instead of “aw”), and my online correspondent started bringing up New Yorkers (who say “aw” more often than necessary).

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