That's right, Mary and air have different vowels. Not terribly different, but I can hear them. The vowel in Harry, Mary, and marry is, I believe, the same vowel as in cat. OSTRICH and COT are the same vowel for me, too, which is different than the one in CAUGHT. On 02/14/2013 12:05 AM, Amanda Babcock Furrow wrote: > This discussion has been fascinating to cot/caught-merged > (Pittsburgh-born) me, not least because I've finally realized > that it's *caught* and not *cot* which is the back-rounded > one! I never would have guessed. > > On Tue, Feb 12, 2013 at 07:27:51PM -0500, Tony Harris wrote: > >> Actually "Harry" and "hairy" sound different to me too, with the >> first having the same vowel as "Mary" and "marry", and the second >> having the same vowel as "hair" (which rhymes with "air" and >> "fair"). > ...do I read you right here, Tony, that "Mary" actually does > not have the same vowel as "air" for you? I could never have > imagined that being the case for anyone. > > tylakèhlpë'fö, > Amanda > >  We had phonics in second grade. I loved it, except for > the perplexing nonsense about there being different vowels > in OSTRICH and whatever other word they used to exemplify > the other vowel. I don't recall the teacher being able to > explain that one to us :) > > Come to think of it, which vowel *is* in ostrich, cot or > caught?