Muke Tever wrote: (snip good and useful replies to Mr. Johnson's questions) >> whats the difference between [a] and [A]? I've heard that [a] is the vowel >> in "father" while [A] is the vowel in "ought", but I think I pronounce >> these vowels the same way. Is this because "father" and "ought" use the >> same vowel in some dialects of English but not in others? Or is it just >> that the difference is very subtle? or what? >[A] is a back vowel, [a] is a front one. [a] is not in General American English, tho [A] is. Not everyone makes a distinction between the first vowel in 'father' and the one in 'ought', but IIRC the first is [A] and the second one is [O].> Right on the last point. But I seem to have learned a different brand of phonetics back in the 60s, where [a] was the low _central_ vowel of 'father' etc. as well as RP 'cup'. IPA "inverted a" (or is it "script a"?) was low back unrounded, IIRC, XSampa [A], and according to my teacher only found dialectally in the US......Ah well, 40 years ago....... The front vowels from high to low were: i I e E &. Period. There was a low-ish frontish vowel, but retracted from [&] position-- "a with a heavy dot on the upper left curve" --which represented "Boston a" as in 'park, car, Harvard' etc.-- still to be heard from the mouth of Senator E. Kennedy and in old recordings of JFK and RFK. (A ghastly sound, IMHO, despite my admiration for JFK). That was a special symbol which I believe has been discontinued. So maybe "[a]" has taken over that spot?? But then, what is the low central vowel? >[a] is the 'a' in Spanish. Sorry, this is unclear. To me, the "vowel in Spanish" [sp&nIS] is the same vowel as 'cat'. Or did you mean "the vowel _of_ Spanish" e.g. _la, casa, madre_ etc???? That would be my interpretation. [a] is also French a (madame, ša, Chirac, etc.) as far as I know. Aargh. Sampa, schmampa.