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Muke Tever wrote:
> >I think that's _most_ American dialects.  Er, what vowel do your people
> >put in it?

"My people call it maize."

Sorry, just found the "your people" bit amusing. :)

Tristan Mc Leay replied:
> Short o (i.e. /O/); 'what' rhymes with 'cot' and 'lot', but not with
> 'hut' (/a/, equiv. to /V/) or 'bought' (/o:/).

Hence the dialect-spelling "eh, wot?" which was popular for
stereotypical British characters in fiction a generation or two ago.

> In general---a letter that denotes /w/ plus a letter that denotes a
> short a has the letter that denotes a short a pronounced with a short o.

Except here we run into terminology difficulties.  To me, "short a"
means /&/, which is certainly not the vowel in "wash" or any of the
other example words.  The options besides /O/ seem to be /a/ and /A/,
neither of which is a "short a" in my book. Nor are they "long"; the
terminology I was taught in grade school runs like this (phonetic
symbols for phonemes are approximate as always):

Vowel   Short   Long    Other   Examples
A       /&/     /ej/    /a/     tack, take, taco
E       /E/     /i/             kept, keep
I       /I/     /aj/            kit, kite
O       /A/     /o/     /O/     cot, coat, caught
U       /V/     /ju/    /r\=/   but, butte, burr
OO      /U/     /u/             book, boon

In the dictionary pronunciation key notation we used, short vowels were
marked with a breve, the long ones with a macron, and the "other" ones
by a circumflex.  An alternative to casting OO as a separate vowel was
to use u with an umlaut for /u/ and u with a dot above for /U/.
Sometimes the /a/ sound is written as a with an umlaut, while a with
circumflex is used for /E`/ in hair, care, etc.  And sometimes /r\=/ was
a circumflexed i instead of u, or indicated with an upside down r after
a schwa.

I always thought there were more symbols than sounds; neither I nor any
of my teachers had any distinction among /a/, /A/, and /O/, for
instance.

-Marcos