Submitted by jon on January 2, 2006

Pronunciation: aunt

I’m not sure if we can ask pronunciation questions here. Well, I’d like to know the correct way to pronounce “aunt,” whether it’s closer to “ant” or “ont.” When you answer, please say where you’re from. I’m curious if it’s an American vs British English thing.

In Western Canada we say “ant.”

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@Brus - Yes, Jeremy Hunt is often the butt of this kind of joke. Was your vicar a country vicar, by any chance? Rhetorical question.

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WWill - the pronunciation had nothing to do with the tale at all, as it is a written tale. I just put it in because it reminded me of the old ducks in the eastern parts of South Africa who talk that way, when choosing to use English. They say 'aunt' as in 'authentic' but also say 'aren't' the same way. "We aunt goin' to taahn todayee" means 'We aren't going to town today', for example ('aunt' pronounced as in authentic).
Now, is there another possible answer to the vicar's question? I believe it came up in the British parliament (in London) not long ago, when someone cocked up while calling for Mr Jeremy Hunt to say something about something. Ribaldry and laughter all round. Not a dry seat in the House.Indeed, how the barriers have fallen!

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@Brus - but was the pronunciation of aunt an essential part of the story (in which case I think I've missed something), or did you add that on yourself? Talking of your story, one thing I have noticed is how often allusions are made nowadays on Radio Four to the other possible answer to the Vicar's question, in relatively sedate programmes such as 'Just a minute'. How the barriers have fallen!

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WWill, It’s a very old story, the vicar and the crossword. You are correct, it’s a strange way to say aunt, but in Britain lots of people say things in strange ways. The Telegraph the other day had correspondence about it, involving how to contract long meaningless clichés like “know what I mean?” and "I've got to be honest" into one word, and then perhaps one syllable. I do know a few old ladies who say ‘aunt’ as in ‘authentic’ but they say lots of other things in a drawly way, too, especially after a few gins. Come to think of it, they are always South Africans from the eastern side of that lovely country. And they say "aren't" exactly the same way as "aunt" and although they never say "authentic" they would say that in the same way too. Like 'awnt', 'awthentuk' .

How do Americans say "arctic" and "antarctic"? Do the inhabitants of those inhospitable places cringe and raise their eyebrows when they hear these terms enunciated this way? Okay, me too ...

Back to 'aunt' ...

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@Brus - I'm fascinated to know who in Britain pronounces the au in aunt even approximately like the au in authentic. Or perhaps I should say pronounced, seeing it's on British Railways, which (for non-Brits) hasn't existed for twenty years or so.

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Come to think of it, "aren't" in England is how we pronounce the female appendage to the family, like father's or mother's sister, aunt, while Americans who say "ain't" for 'aren't' also call their aunts 'ain'ts'. Think of the elocution teacher scenes in "Singing in the Rain". Does it follow then that if your aunt is an 'ant' then you must say 'aren't' as in "Sorry, we ant coming out tonight"?

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There was a vicar (predikant, minister, padre, priest, parson, or whatever you call it in your parts) on a train doing a newspaper crossword, and looking very surprised and bewildered and confused. He said to the professor sitting opposite "it's the last clue, I have the last three letters and it's a four-letter answer, _unt, and the clue is 'female appendage'. The professor says "well, it's 'aunt', surely?". The vicar says "Of course it is! Do you have an rubber (eraser)?"

And they both pronounce it with a long 'au' as in 'authentic' with a hint of "aren't" to mellow it a bit, because they are posh folk. And the crossword is the Times, and the train is British Railways. And they are going first class.

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Like I stated back in November, the pronunciation is geographical. Aunt pronounced "Ont" is a Northeastern part of the country or British way to say it. Aunt, pronounced "Ant" is everywhere else in the country, and I mean everywhere else, unless you relocated from the northeast to somewhere else. There are some in the south that also say "Aint". Black americans, at least the ones I grew up with all pronounce it "Ont" or 'Ontee". I grew up in Louisville, KY, pronounced Lou-ah-vull not Loueey Ville or Louis Ville lol! I have live in Colorado since 1980 and it is "Ant" out here except for the brothers and those from the northeast that brought it with them. To me totally sounds English, "Dear ole chap, tell you Ont and Mum to come down for a spot of tea!"

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It drives me nuts when people say ant. I was brought up to say ahnt and very clearly remember my high school English teacher admonishing students that an ant is something that crawls on the ground. And, although my ahnt may do that occasionally, I still refer to her as my ahnt! Lol

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I think of aunt as in water ya wouldn't say waaaaater haha
Or like taught, but there are words like gauge that sound like ayy
But I still say aunt as in taunt.
It doesn't matter if one's way sounds better or correct, it's a matter of what YOU think
But still, personally I say aunt not ant

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"Ah," "au," and "aw" each are to sound like "crawdad" and "debacle." I admit. however, that "laughter" and "slaughter" are indeed pronounced differently, for "laughter" is pronounced "laffter" unless of course you're of the England persuasion due to the vowels each having one set sound, but the controversy with the word "aunt...." If it is pronounced the same as the insect, is there a reason for the dropped "u?" I've always used phonics to pronounce words of all languages--from English (American and British alike) and Spanish to Japanese. Try to keep in mind that you can't always rely on how family words things. You may want to sound like your peers, but honestly as long as it's written correctly on paper, then it really shouldn't matter.

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I'm from Boston and I say "ont", as does everyone I know who's from here.

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@Carol345 ... Lots of folks say the 'l' in walk, talk, asf. It's not hard to add the 'k' to 'tall' to make the 'talk' sound. But then, in my neck of the woods ... awl and all sound alike ... so the 'awl' and 'al' sounds the same. Thus tawk=talk.

As for the 'wh'. Most, not all, 'wh' words hav a 'hw' sound: what (h)wət, (h)wät http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/am... . Indeed, in OE they were spelt with 'hw' ... hwæt (what), hwīl (while), hwæl (whale). It was one of those letter swaps in ME mainly owing to the French way of spelling with the Carolina script (putting the 'h' after the 'w' broke up the minims). Tho for another reason, we also took on the French way of 'le' insted of 'el' ... thus lytel became lyttle/little.

As I'v said before ... the word 'aunt' comes from Old French 'ante' (today's French 'tante') so there was no 'u' there to start with ... that came from Anglo-French so it chang'd in England tho we do fine 'ante' in late ME and erly Mod English. Even in OE, the way words were said would change from shire to shire.

Both ways of saying it are acknowledg'd so I see no reason to bicker about it. Tomahto ... Tomaeto.

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I am reminded of the elocution lesson in Some like it Hot, set in Hollywood when the 'talkies' came, and the established silent screen star whose name I forget turned out to speak poorly, saying 'I can't' to rhyme with 'ant' and being coached to say it with the long 'au', cahnt. Now why would they make the poor woman do this, if not for a good reason, hey? Well, the studio wanted the public to adore her, so she would have to speak properly, they reckoned. I rest my case. And I ain't American.

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@WordMasterRick - Merriam-Webster gives both pronunciations of (n)either for American English \ˈnē-thər also ˈnī-\ - In British English we have a choice and I'm pretty sure I say \'naɪðə(r)\ ("I") on some occasions and ˈ\niːðə(r)\ ("E") on others.

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Unless you are from New England, for those of you geographically challenged that's the northeast(Massachusetts and above). Aunt is pronounced "ANT", if you don't live in New England and you say "ONT" you are just confused. This isn't an opinionated answer, it is based on fact. Just like the words "Neither and Either", pronounced with an "I" sound is British, with a "E" it's American.

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Then why not say ncle instead of uncle, and if its one of those words with a silent U, why does 'american' english drop it in many other words but not this one?

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If you look in the current Dictionary you will see that "aunt" is pronounced "ant". The "u" is silent. This is one of those words that sound alike but have different meanings. This is the way I was taught in school.

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I pronounce it ant I lived in Kansas when I was a child and my family is from Ohio but I now live in Virginia in the tidewater area and almost everyone around here pronounces it ont even some pronounce it unt

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I'm from mid missouri and I have always pronounced it änt (ont) my aunt hayes this but it is the way I was raised

And it isn't so hard to do dictionary pronunciation symbols press and hold alt button on keyboard and type with the number pad any 3 digits up to 250 and you'll get a different result for each combo

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@Skeeter Lewis - for example I've just heard an announcer on BBC Radio 4, with an otherwise standard "middle class" accent pronounce "past" with a short a - /pæst/ rather than a long a - /pɑ:st/.

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@Skeeter Lewis and others - I agree with you that there is an element of class to it, but I think it's a little more complicated than that, as peteskully pointed out. There's also a regional difference. Yes RP speakers will say /ɑ:nt/ ('ahnt') everywhere in Britain, but I suspect middle middle class northerners are just as likely to say /ænt/ ('ant') as their working class counterparts. Similarly a Cockney will say /ɑ:nt/ ('ahnt') not /ænt/ ('ant'). It's the same with words like 'bath'.

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@Kate Gladstone I do happen to agree with some of what you are saying but your comparison are almost like the people who compare august to aunt

(Taking your sentence apart) I'm also wondering if you pronounce the consonant L in "folk," "talk," and "calf."

(While I agree that it's silent, without an L it will become fok tak so even if it's not heard it does make a difference Kate instead of Fouk, tauk maybe we should add a "U" instead)

(I happen to agree with this one without these letters they will still sound the same) Doubtless you —like the rest of us — have never bothered about the B in "doubt" and the P in "receipt"

... not to mention the W in "who" (ho are you? I'm surely to get slapped across the face)

and "two." (back to agreeing)

Have you forgotten the C in "indict" (indit?)

and the G in "sign"? ( I need a sin)

Don't forget the N in "autumn," (Ok)

the M that begins "mnemonic," (This brings a world of problems while the m is silent where does that W come from)

and the B that ends "thumb." (And how do you pronounce ONE, I wonder?)


-Okay so for some regions if you don't use a "U" in aunt we will be fine. But some of the examples you use like "sign" well it becomes a whole new word completely. The point of my statement is that as long as we can communicate it doesn't matter.

I completely understand that what your saying that just because it's there doesn't mean we have to use it but I would have got with tight knit examples like "knit" which is kind of like "aunt" silent and even if you drop the letter it's still pronounced the same way "knit" and "nit" is still pronounced the same way kind of like "aunt" and "ant."

I honestly don't care how anyone one says it. I just find the discussion funny and somewhat offensive and I'm not even black! Maybe it doesn't bother me how it's said because I've live in two different regions that pronounces the words differently. I don't even catch the difference half the time. The only reason why I'm here at this site today is that I heard and American and Australian person talking and during the same conversation they said it differently. Usually if the person says Ant first I will say ant as well and if the person says aunt first I will use aunt during my conversation. Neither side adjusted during this conversation and that's why I caught it. Fun thing is that they kept going like nothing. They didn't seem to notice they were saying the same thing differently.


Nit-The egg or young form of a louse or other parasitic insect, esp. the egg of a head louse attached to a human hair.

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I've lived in Rhode Island and in Georgia. I hear both in both places although more commonly used in Rhode Island is aunt and in Georgia is ant. I really don't give a flying flip as long as you spell it on paper correctly. I don't exactly want to read your ants and uncles. Like I said I don't really care if it's spelled correctly. I personally find myself switching depending on where I'm at. Now what gets on my nerves is "Windee" for "Wednesday" or "dee" for "day."

Finally, I'm not Black and I will say "ont" because that's what I learned first. It's a regional thing.

I never gotten into an argument like many of you here with people over it because they find it cool. I guess the person with an accent and a different dialect is still appealing to some.

Let me throw this one in there does anyone say regioNAL or regioNOL. I'm honestly curious.

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As an American, I am appalled by many of the (what I call) misspellings and/or mis-pronunciations of words. My 6th grade elementary teacher, Miss Echols, was a formidable woman, who hated slang of every form. It was she who instilled a love for the English language in many of us (or a hate!). Where I grew up, there was a very strong Colonial English heritage, so many of the pronunciations and spellings remained long after the official "American" versions changed. Hence, I grew up spelling gray as g-r-e-y. My spell-checker didn't like that spelling, so I amended it. I also spell Savior S-a-v-i-o-u-r. Same story. So, not all us 'Americans' approve of how things are going on here. (Oh, and in my own small rebellious way, though the new dictionaries have dropped the middle 'e', I still spell j-u-d-g-e-m-e-n-t the old-fashioned way.) As for an entire nation using silent U's or not using them at all - my husband's family is Canadian, and they have a few quirky pronunciations and spellings of their own!

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Here is my thoughts on the topic. I am from eastern Canada and I hear both "ont" and "ant" and also hear equal amounts of of people criticizing each other based on their way of saying it.

I have a feeling that it was originally "ont" and originated in the United Kimgdom, just like other words with 'u' that aren't pronounced like 'colour' and 'neighbour'. But if that is the case, why do Americans still spell it with a 'u'?

I myself say "ont" since in both Canadian/British English and American English spell with a 'u'. Americans... make up your minds :p decide on if your spelling includes silent U's or don't use them at all.

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PROUD NATIVE OF BROOLYN, NY... AND HAVE BEEN CORRECTED MANY A TIME BECAUSE I PRONOUNCE BOTH WORDS AS 'ANT'! THANK YOU FOR THE CONFIRMATION.
MY APOLOGY FOR UPPER CAPS.... NOT YELLING JUST NEAR SITED@,@ LOL

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Too many people with nothing better to do....

And to the people commenting that decided to cry "racism", grow up...honestly....

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As an Englishman, I've heard 'ant' and 'ahnt'. There is certainly a class component in the UK. (It's hard to get away from it.) 'Ahnt' is middle and upper class.'Ant' is working class. That's not a judgement - just a sociological observation.
I've never heard awnt, ont or aint but I celebrate the diversity of pronunciation.
The 'au' in 'launch', for example, is pronounced differently here than in the U.S., which may be complicating matters on this thread. We pronounce 'launch', 'haunt' etc. as 'lawnch' and 'hawnt'. Americans, at least to my ear, seem to be saying 'lahnch' and ''hahnt'. But I don't say 'aunt' like any of the above. It seems to be one of a kind.

By the way, I'd like to hear more from Tyrone and his crack ho aunts.

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I am from Worcester, MA and as such naturally pronounce Aunt as awnt/ont. Ant just sounds odd to me. Sort of like when I hear the singer Rihanna's name pronounced as Ree-an-ah rather than Ree-ah-nah. Particularly annoying in a British accent. hahah

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I was born and raised in Virginia. The majority of the state says, "awnt," or, "ont," as many people describe it on here. Most folks in eastern North Carolina tend to say, "ont," as well.

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As a Japanese speaker of Minneapolis, Minnesota, I say "awnt." I always thought "au" was an "aw" sound. Then again, I usually use Obachan...Lol, Anyway, I'll continue saying "awnt" and even "as-ter-isk" instead of the usual "aster-ix."

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I would think that if you are from the south, then it would be pronounced "ain't"

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I'm from Central Virginia, and we say "Aint" - yep, just like the slang word "ain't". Ai rhyming with hay. Sorry, professor, but your long treatise of proper pronunciation completely omitted the matter of dialect! :-) Aint Kay, Aint Joyce. And yes, we call them Aint or Uncle where I'm from because it's a term of respect. Oh, just FYI, my father and uncle pronounced house "hosse" and about "aboot". The "ou" came out sounding more like they started to say 'ow' but changed their mind and said 'oh' - almost a diphthong, but not quite. But then they and their family were all of Scottish descent, so who could blame them? Oh, and I live in a town called Staunton, but it's pronounced "Stan-tun". Drives the telemarketers crazy!!

Happy days!

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@Mom ... as far as aunt ... I think I say it like my parents did. But I do kno that were many other words that I didn't say like they did since I had learned the "proper" pronunciation. I would never expect my kids to talk like me if they thought I was wrong or if there are two ways to say a word and they like the other way.

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Hey everybody, I need to know if you pronounce aunt like your parents did, or, if you have changed and, as an adult, pronounce it different now. I grew up with aunt being "ant" (like the insect) and feel my children should respect that and continue with the family pronounciation.

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Sorry, that should've been 'a' sound in my post.

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Most Canadians pronounce 'aunt' like 'ant'....it's in the dictionary. Likewise, we use the same 'ay' sound in Tanya, Sarah, tacos, pajamas (second 'a'). But on American tv shows I hear the 'aw' sound in the same words (Tawnya, Sawrah, tawcos, pajawmas). I think it's a dialectal difference, and it may vary within the US accordingly.

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@An English Professor - "There are over a thousand words in Webster Dictionary as well as The Oxford Dictionary which begin with the letters "au" and every one of them is pronounced with the "awe" sound."

Better look again prof. Even if we ignore the outright French words like au jus where the au = ō (BTW, I think I did mention that aunt comes from Old French ante didn't I?) there are words like aubade ōˈbäd. The folks in Augustus, GA say əˈgəstə ... not awe, aumbry ˈambrē, and a few more. In fact, I think most of the words beginning with "au" came thru French and we're mispronouncing them by saying "awe".

As an English prof, you're likely aware that in ME, it was also spelled ante ... "Ion was Crystes ante sonne." (Mirk's Festial: A Collection of Homilies by Johannes Mirkus)

Anent "our" ... The "are" pronunciation is closer to the original pronunciation of the OE "ur, ure" (and that was also a ME spelling: It was in ure seckes don.) so it isn't surprising that many eschew the "hour" pronunciation as it was never that in the first place. That is merely the case of pronunciation chasing the spelling ... As a English prof, you're certainly aware that the Norman-French scribes often substituted the French "ou" for the English "u". Thou was originally þu then thu and then thou (still pronounced thu with the French spelling) and later the pronunciation followed the spelling with "ou" = the "ou" in about, house. Maybe the right thing to do would be to correct the spelling back to ure!

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Come on people, I have one aunt (no pronuciation). I call her Joyce! Same with Uncles, use the first name. They already know yjet are my Aunt or Uncle - Duh!

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The standard and proper pronunciation of aunt is aunt, not ant. This is why we spell them differently. They have different pronunciations supported by different rules of spelling and pronunciation. There are over a thousand words in Webster Dictionary as well as The Oxford Dictionary which begin with the letters "au" and every one of them is pronounced with the "awe" sound. It is not actually regional but rather due to unintended laziness or improperly developed articulators. Of course many of us use what we grew up hearing becasue we are accustomed to hearing it. We make statements such as "It doesn't sound right." This is an inaccurate statement. Nothing literally sounds correct or incorrect. Langauge is arbitrary. We must not confuse what we are accustomed to hearing with what is standard or correct usage. Numerous people shorten both words and pronunciations. Aunt takes more effort to pronounce than ant. The articulators (lips, teeth, tongue, hard and soft palates used in producing speech sounds) must work harder (mouth opens more in pronouncing aunt). Even though citizens change the way words are pronounced over many years of usage, Webster's often does not differentiate slang pronunciation from standard pronunciation. The spelling and pronunciation rules indicate that aunt is pronounced with the "awe"sound. Shortening the vowel to the "a" sound as in "cat" or "ant" does not logically apply to the word aunt. But people will still pronounce aunt using the illogical short "a" pronunciation. We do this with more words than we realize: Remember "our" is actually pronounced the way we pronounce "hour." Yet some insist on pronouncing "our" as "are" which is another common mispronunciation. Pronouncing aunt with the "awe" sound has nothing to do with being British, African-American, or "posh." It has everything to do with standard and correct pronunciation that is supported by sound spelling and pronunciation rules. Oh, some may say there are exceptions, but as most learned linguists realize, if there is an exception to a rule, it's a flawed rule.

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The standard and proper pronunciation of aunt is aunt, not ant. This is why we spell them differently. They have different pronunciations supported by different rules of spelling and pronunciation. There are over a thousand words in Webster's as well as Oxford's which begin with the letters "au" and every one of them are pronounced with the "awe" sound. It is not actually regional but rather due to unintended laziness or improperly developed articulators. Of course many of us use what we grew up hearing becasue we are accustomed to hearing it. We make statements such as "It doesn't sound right." This is an inaccurate statement. Nothing literally sounds correct or incorrect. Langauge is arbitrary. We must not confuse what we are accustomed to hearing with what is standard or correct usege. Numerous people shorten both words and pronunciations. Aunt takes more effort to pronounce than ant. The articulators (lips, teeth, tongue, hard and soft palat used in producing speech sounds) must work harder (mouth opens more in pronouncing aunt). Even though citizens change the way words are pronounced over many years of usage, Webster's often does not differentiate slang pronunciation from standard pronunciation. The spelling and pronunciation rules indicate that aunt is pronounced with the "awe"sound. Shortening the vowel to the "a" sound as in "cat" or "ant" does not logically apply to the word aunt. But people will still pronounce aunt using the illogical short "a" pronunciation. We do this with more words than we realize: Remember "our" is actually pronounced the way we pronounce "hour." Yet some insist on pronouncing "our" as "are" which is another common mispronunciation. Pronouncing aunt with the "awe" sound has nothing to do with being British, African-American, or "posh." It has everything to do with standard and correct pronunciation that is supported by sound spelling and pronunciation rules. Oh, some may say there are exceptions, but as most learned linguists realize, if there is an exception to a rule, it's a flawed rule.

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I am from Nashville, Tennessee and I pronounce it more closely to ont.

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Im from north carolina i say 'ont' but most people where i come from say 'ant' personally i like to say an ant is an animal not a person :)

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Jason,

I pronounce both "aren't" and "aunt" like you do (I'm in NZ but am from the UK originally). There's a play on the homophony of "aren't" and "aunt" in the Two Ronnies' "answering the question before last" sketch which you can find on Youtube.

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The other spelling for gauge is gage ... and that's the one that I brook.

For aunt: from O.Fr. ante, from L. amita "paternal aunt". After the Norman French Takover it became aunte in ME when spelling was erratic. The Old English words were faðe, faðu (father's sister) and môdrige, môdrie (mother's sister).

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Personally, I'm British, and in Great Britain, we generally pronounce the word "aunt" in the same way as we pronounce the word "aren't". Unlike in most areas of America, we don't emphysise the letter "r" in the word "aren't". It's basically like saying: "Ahh - n't".

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Kate, referring to the pronunciation as "long a" is standard terminology. Most vowels have a long and short version. The long version actually is longer to say because it is a dipthong. Long A is two different sounds, -eh followed by -ee, to create the --ey sound. The short version, as in "cat" is a single, short phoneme.

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MEP, is what you call a "long a" the sound that IPA represents as /e:/? I want to know, before I look for other words besides "gauge" that use "au" tomspell that sound. (And what's imagined to be particularly "long" about that sound, anyway? The vowel in "gauge" doesn't necessarily last longer than vowel in "Madge" — likewise, the vowel in "bad" lasts noticeably longer than the vowel in "bat," yet both are imagined to be "short.")

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Are there any other words like "gauge" with the "au" pronounced as a LONG A?

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I live in Va and pronounce it "ont" but i family who live in Buffalo,Ny who pronounce it "ant"!!

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I'm also wondering if you pronounce the consonant L in "folk," "talk," and "calf." Doubtless you —like the rest of us — have never bothered about the B in "doubt" and the P in "receipt" ... not to mention the W in "who" and "two." Have you forgotten the C in "indict" and the G in "sign"? Don't forget the N in "autumn," the M that begins "mnemonic," and the B that ends "thumb." (And how do you pronounce ONE, I wonder?)

If writing a U in "aunt" requires pronouncing a U in that word, then what are you doing about the U in "tongue" — pronouncing it, or speaking proper English and thereby violating your own notion that we look at "what is on the paper" in order to decide how a word sounds?

Would you be willing to pronounce each and  every English word — not only "aunt," but all the rest of them — according to "what is on the paper" whenever you speak ... for one month, ror one week, or even for one day? If not, you have no right to command anyone else "to pronounce what is on the paper" when you yourself know better for any word that isn't "aunt."

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Re "If the U wasn't to be pronounced, then it wouldn't be in the word" — do you pronounce the K in "knit," the L in "colonel," the P in "pychology," the H in "chorus," and the GH in "through"? If you believes your own argument, you would be pronouncing them: until you follow your own logic, do not ask others to do so. (If it degrades an aunt to pronounce her title as "ant," then it must degrade knitting to pronounce "knit" identically with the larva of a louse.)

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aUnt is how i grew up, I was told to pronounce what was on the papeer. Also I am not a little insect that get ground under a person's heal. When the word aUnt is mispronounced through the nose to come up with a very nasal ANT, that is like slapping and spitting in my face at the same time. If the "U" wasn't to be pronounced, it wouldn't be in the word. I am one of those people that say, if u can't pronounce it correctly, don't bother using a title before the name, and don't even san "antie," as I am not a diminuative of the little black pissmour.

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A "long A"? To Americans, the term "long vowel" denotess "the sound which is the name of that vowel-letter" e.g., "long A" is the vowel-sound in "ape, May, steak," and so on.

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Well then, how do you pronounce "chants"? Personally, I pronounce it (and "aunt") with a long A, but I rather think there are those (Geordies, perhaps) who will pronounce "chants" with a short A, to rhyme with "ants".

There is no single right answer here people. Move along.

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Let Shakespeare settle the issue:

"The lark, that tirra-lira chants —
With hey, with hey, the thrush and the jay —
Are summer songs for me and my aunts
While we lie tumbling in the hay."
— THE WINTER'S TALE, Act IV, Scene iii

Plainly, he rhymed "aunts" with "chants."

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look at http://upodn.com, it'll give you the IPA pronunciation of any word, phrase, paragraph you enter into the text box. slant and rant have the same vowel sound /æ/ as aunt... and it has nothing to do with being snobbish, it's about having a sense of humor. you can look up sense of humor at dictionary.com and possibly order one from e-bay or amazon, it might do you some good.

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Pablo Diablo: 'the correct pronunciation of "aunt" is /ænt/ , which sounds like "slant" or "rant."'

Huh?! "Slant" and "rant" have completely different vowel sounds: indeed, the very two vowel sounds that most of the people in this thread are arguing over.

Personally, I and the people I grew up amongst pronounce "aunt" to rhyme with "slant". I know, however, that other people, who grew up in different places, pronounce it to rhyme with "rant" (or, in other words, as a homophone for the insect "ant"). Given that both are widespread (even within England, let alone America and other English speaking countries), and that both are, normally, perfectly well understood by all English speakers, even by people who themselves say it the other way, both are correct English. People who assert that someone else's pronunciation is "wrong" or "snobbish" are, in fact, being snobbish themselves.

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According to the International Phonetic Association (the authority on pronunciation of words and other utterances), in either British or Real (American) English the correct pronunciation of "aunt" is /ænt/ , which sounds like "slant" or "rant." That being said, you probably won't be hanged, put on The Rack, tarred and feathered or drawn and quartered for pronouncing it like "font" or "want", you'll just be wrong. =]

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I have never responded to something like this on the computer, but my oldest son challenged the pronunciation of "aunt" and this has been a family topic since I was a child (now in my 60s). My aunt (awnt) was a speech therapist and came home and announced (Minn) that the word was correctly said like taunt - reasonable, right? I also cringe as I hear "ant" and therefore brought up my four sons to say "awnt" as in taunt. My oldest son, now in Turkey and taking a course from Cambridge University just challenged that once again saying that it should be "ant".

I will have to say that discovering this website has been a delight and shows me that a word such as aunt is a choice! And mine will never change because my "Awnt" Dot said it was the right way!!! How do people from other countries ever learn our language?! Thanks for a delightful conversation.

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Here in East Tennessee most of the white folks say "Ant," or "Aint." Colored folks usually say "Ahnt" or "Ahntee."

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My Aunt told me that the pronunciation was dictated by what side of the family the woman is from. Ahnt for mother's sister and ant for the father's sister. My Aunt may have been pulling my leg though.

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I say ahnt. I'm not black. I'm from New England. If you say ant here people might look at you as though you've got 3 heads. You may argue that it's opinion, but I think ant is incorrect. But if someone from the west or wherever says ant then I really don't care, because that's how they were raised and what is accepted there. However, all these people here complaining about New Englanders saying ahnt is really sad. We are Americans too. And we'll pronounce aunt the way we've always been saying it. If you can't deal with that, I don't know what to say. We are part of the US. In fact, if it weren't for us, then there would be no US. Just because we have a different accent, tend to be more liberal, and might seem snobby doesn't make us from another planet. Go piss off if you have a problem with New England, cause it's not going to change only because you think it's not aMURican enough for you.

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Well I live in Virginia (Real Virginia, none of that West Virginia stuff), well, near Richmond to be honest. I pronounce aunt like "ahnt" or "ont" or "awnt" those are the three ways you might hear me say it...then again I could be saying only one of those and the other two are wrong, but I say aunt like how I would say automobile, or august. Though sometimes my pronunciation is like...all over the place, but people saying it has to do with your background...here's my whole line up:
-My father is from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and is Scottish, Irish, and possibly German (we're still looking into the family records for his side.)
-My mother is from Baltimore, Maryland and is: Irish, Welsh, English, Newfie (Newfoundland you guys, whoop whoop! -And yes, I pronounce it as New-fin-land...though apparently, according to one person, I say New-Finland...I never knew I took a little pause, anywho), and Indian. Yeah, my Great Grandfather was from India. <3 Calcutta, India to be exact.

Although, my dad sometimes says "Hass" instead of "house..." I don't know, it was how he was raised, I mainly learned how to speak from my mom since my parents were divorced since I was 3, though my SLIGHT speech impediment might also be the cause of why I say things differently. (I think that speech impediment has gone though, I talk normally according to my friends.)
And I say Ask, not Ax...though I know most of you were saying only black people say Ax instead of Ask...which is NOT true, my school is mostly black and although they try to act ghetto, all of the ones I know have said Ask instead of ax. There was one person saying, though, that if you say "ont" for aunt (though when I say ont it's like ON-T... on it! ...with out the i in it...) that you also say "Ax" for ask and that your education is bad...or whatever, which I must say although I haven't graduated high school yet, my education is VERY good. Ok, not Straight A's good, but I'm above average.

Oh, and I only found this site because I was on the brink of falling asleep this morning, heard the news reporter say "Ant" for aunt, winced and kind of shuddered, and googled the "correct pronunciation of Aunt." Just to keep me awake, isn't that great? I do now, however, see that there is no right or wrong way to pronounce the word and that I just don't prefer hearing "Ant" for aunt...I mean, it's just me. Though I've found out quite a few new interesting ways to say it.

So I guess it's been all said and done.

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im from pa and i actually pronounce it unt
ive heard it both ways though. its like carmle and caramel, its right either way.

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I'm a black america that's from Alabama and I pronounce and spell the word as aunt, but I have a problem pronouncing your. I say yo instead. I say wit for with. I was told that I say dat instead of that, but I do not write the way that I speaks. This is holding me back from becoming a motivational speaker.

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I live in the south suburbs of chicago. Here from what ive experienced 95 percent of non african americans use ant for aunt. However I have noticed that the african american population predominantly uses the pronunciation unt as apposed to ahnt. I am indeed very surprised to have not heard anyone else on this post say the same thing. Im assuming this means that there is either a confusion between ahnt unt and ont or perhaps it is a very small regional slang. anyhow thought it was interesting.

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Shawn:

Have you ever been in Boston? It it's a mostly blue-collar town, like most of America. If do you visit, Shawn, visit Southie. And say your piece—you may just get educated.

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you think you've got ant problems? Try moving to New England where people yell at you for calling a route a route. Let's take this route to the game so we can root for a rout from the home team. We speak American English in the midwest. Not the Queen's English. This is not 1692. This is not France, route should be prounced rowt...not root. Why do Americans prounounce Patrick Roy as Patrick Wah. This is not France. The ant pronunciation more than likely grew from the midwest...which was settled not so much by blue bloods as by hard working immigrants from Ireland and Poland...I love the comment on the previous page from "educated Bostonian"....if you're EDUCATED you must be right! Just ask anyone, the world is flat right? Look people, it's all just howling at the moon, we're all going to die in the end...but it sure is fun to poke fun at the Bostonians...what a haughty educated bunch. They'll even stubbornly vote straight Democrat while the entire rest of the country sees the need to recalibrate.

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Hey, I'm from Toronto, and moved to Ottawa for 2 years.

It's pretty much the same for both cities. As far as I can remember, I remember being taught aunt like ant. No one really says aunt like "ahnt" - that sounds very southern to me - though people pronounce aunt like awe, and then -nt (one syllable, of course).

But I hear more or less maybe 20%, half the people say it the first way, the other half say it the third way mentioned.

However, I'd say at least 90% of people who say it the third way also incorporate the word 'auntie', either interchangeably, both meaning the word 'aunt', or distinctively, 'auntie' being like a close family friend (female, of course). I've never heard of a male version of the word 'auntie'.

And so, my theory growing up was always that auntie pronounced the third way was always ok, since it was a different word anyway. However, aunt should be properly pronounced like ant the first way. For me, it was like people who didn't know how to pronounce aunt were people who learned 'auntie', first, and then shortened it. I analogise this with how the word 'spliff' turned into 'splee', and then, in turn, to spleezy, that the origin of the word as spliff could not be traced back if you've never heard spliff before.

However, both cities I'm from are so filled with immigrants and the descendants of them, the pronunciation of words have shifted and/or varies as often as from school to school, or even one school can have teachers that pronounce things so differently.

My other theory while growing up was that the third pronunciation of aunt was wrong, because it was the result of people pronouncing the word before hearing it. Since it was different from the 'ant' spelling, it should be pronounced the third way, and the people around them who said it that way just the more confirmed it. On the other hand, I made sure I always said it the first way, because words shouldn't be pronounced the way it's spelt; you know better! Like, 'nobody' is pronounced differently from 'no body' or 'no bodies', although I know most US Americans say it the same way. Same with 'anybody', 'somebody.

For all the black people and others who were offended by the theories on cultural links. I do understand you, especially in the states, but it doesn't mean everyone's being racist or whatever; I know the feeling of when even when the person is saying it in a non-racist way, you know he's still being racist. Now this can come off as a generalisation, as well as an offence in itself, but I think people in the states don't even know what stereotypes are. There are differences between stereotypes, prejudice, discrimination, etc. The stereotype that black people say aunt the third way is simply a stereotype (I've actually never heard of this stereotype before today). However, because it is one it makes it true. That is, because people have this image in their head when they hear aunt the third way or think of a black person saying aunt, they think these two things link together. Of course, it doesn't mean it's in their genes to say 'aunt' the third way; that's preposterous. Both white people and black people, and other people, say it both ways. It just means that for the people that think that, they think most people in a certain group say it that way.. maybe because every single person in that group they've met so far do say it that way.. unlucky individuals that they are! That means it makes it true! It means most people or all people they've met so far do say it that way. Stereotypes are the exact same thing as statistics, except they're not actually statistically proven, if that even makes sense. Because maybe statistically, they're wrong, and it's just the black people in their area that say it that way.

But it by no means makes it discrimination at all, unless they're behaving a certain way because of their preconceived notions! Who cares! Stereotypes is a way to learn! And, for those of you who did think people who had stereotypes about black people are stupid and have preconceived notions, you are also having a preconceived notion about them! (except for those people who made it explicit, such as the users who used "UK wide" and things like that)

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i'm from new jersey and me and my family all say "ont". usually people with a boston, chicago, or new york accent will say "ant" which is the wrong way of saying it, or atleast it was. nowadays common english has caught on and changed the pronunciation examples in dictionaries. originally it was just "ont", not the two, then people in the chicago, new york, and san francisco areas started talking faster than people in the south and found it easier to say short A fast than short O, which makes no sense to me. now think about it, it's spelled aunt, there aren't any other words with "au" in them pronounced just "a". you say auto, not ato, dinosaur, not dinosar, restaurant, not restarant (though that word raises a whole nother discussion, as well as the phrase "a whole nother"). in english there are many words with silent letters, but aunt isn't one of them. "ant" is an abbreviation, and nothing more. only because so many people use it has it been excepted into modern english. so about 50-100 years ago, "ont". today, both.Current score: 0 (to vote for this comment, please visit the site)

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I'm from Maine, and the word "aunt" seems to be primarily (as far as I've heard it pronounced in 41 years, as the way you would say "font" There is no "w" at all in the prononciation. I am saddened to see that such a simple question posed by one person could have elicited such nasty replies. In all honesty, the dictionary, whether you use Websters, Merriams, or Dictionary.com, all say that it can be pronounced either way (we could get into a discussion on how to pronounce "either and neither" if it would be profitable, but I'm just not going to go there...). I have a dear friend down in SC that we all affectionately call "Ant" Shirley, as that is how we were introduced by her family and that is perfectly fine with me. She likes the designation, so I'm happy for her.
God Bless

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For me it's not "ant" or "ont" or "awnt" but "ahnt". I pronounce the "au" the same as I do in "laugh". I come from the UK but have lived in New Zealand for the past 7 years. Everyone here pronounces it "ahnt" too.

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Eastern Pennsylvania
I've always pronounce aunt as "ont" (or as "awnt"). I've realized that many people do say "ant" though. Since I'm always unsure of the pronouciation, I refrain from using the word! I pronounce it "awnt" because of haunt, flaunt, taunt etc. I makes sense to me.

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The German is "Tante" and is, in fact, pronounced phoenetically as an "ahn" sound. As for trigger feelings and words that yield specific reaction, the soft pronunciation of "Aunt" i. e. as "ant" reminds me solely of an insect and a region that is far-removed from any sort of European articulation. I am from Boston and we say, exclusively "Aunt" or even "Auntie" as the "Ahn" sound. I guess we acknowledge both the "u", as well as the point of origin. When people say "Ant", I cringe. It is a matter of frame of reference and regional development and acclimation. Just my biased opinion.

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I am creole/multiracial from Michigan. When I hear the word "ant" I think of a big black bug. I have always pronounced it "aunt" because the au in the word is pronounced aw. However, I would understand if someone from the UK (for example) whose particular accent or dialect pronounced it ant. It does annoy me sometimes when I hear ant from a caucasian American. I have had many discussions with some of my caucasian counter parts about the pronunciation.

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Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, Fifth Edition (1947 printing) lists both \?änt\ and \?ant\ as standard pronunciations. (I have updated the phonetic symbols to reflect their current standards.) Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary (1991 printing) also lists both pronunciations.

And Webster's Ninth says this in its explanatory notes:

"The presence of variant pronunciations indicates that not all educated speakers pronounce words in the same way. A second-place variant is not to be regarded as less acceptable than the pronunciation that is given first. It may, in fact, be used by as many educated speakers as the first variant, but the requirements of the printed page are such that one much precede the other."

Can we please move on? Lots of English words have more than one pronunciation, and all English-speaking people have accents. My southern friends—some of them—say "earl" for "oil" and "Paypsee" for "Pepsi." We may kid each other about it, but we don't call each other names.

As for "forte," Merriam-Webster Online has this comment on its pronunciation:

"In 'forte' we have a word derived from French that in its “strong point” sense has no entirely satisfactory pronunciation. Usage writers have denigrated \?f?r-?t?\ and \?f?r-t?\ because they reflect the influence of the Italian-derived 'forte.' Their recommended pronunciation \?f?rt\, however, does not exactly reflect French either: the French would write the word 'le fort' and would rhyme it with English 'for.' So you can take your choice, knowing that someone somewhere will dislike whichever variant you choose. All are standard, however. In British English \?f?-?t?\ and \?f?t\ predominate; \?f?r-?t?\ and \f?r-?t?\ are probably the most frequent pronunciations in American English."

No mention at all of "Dynasty."

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The U in aunt is silent.The correct pronuciation is "ANT".Most people who prefer the "ONT" think it sounds classier.It is actually classier to pronounce something correctly.Even the British agree( watch" Howards End")
Also the French word forte is pronounced in France as "fort",not "fortay".The only reason people believe that "fortay" is the correct way is because that is how it was said on DYNASTY,a popular soap opera.

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Nick, how do you pronounce "laugh"?

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i'm from new jersey and me and my family all say "ont". usually people with a boston, chicago, or new york accent will say "ant" which is the wrong way of saying it, or atleast it was. nowadays common english has caught on and changed the pronunciation examples in dictionaries. originally it was just "ont", not the two, then people in the chicago, new york, and san francisco areas started talking faster than people in the south and found it easier to say short A fast than short O, which makes no sense to me. now think about it, it's spelled aunt, there aren't any other words with "au" in them pronounced just "a". you say auto, not ato, dinosaur, not dinosar, restaurant, not restarant (though that word raises a whole nother discussion, as well as the phrase "a whole nother"). in english there are many words with silent letters, but aunt isn't one of them. "ant" is an abbreviation, and nothing more. only because so many people use it has it been excepted into modern english. so about 50-100 years ago, "ont". today, both.

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I grew up in Colorado, I say it as "ont," however people (Coloradans) often bother me about it and say that I should be pronouncing it "ant," not sure how much this helps.

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though it can be pronounced anyway really, the true correct pronunciation is "aunt" though most people say ant because.....i have no fucking idea, i say aunt...

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down in south Carolina whites say ant and black people say ontie or ont but i think the correct way is ant

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The link in my last post doesn't work because of the parentheses. Here it is again:

http://www.randomhouse.com/wotd/index.pperl?dat...

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The pronunciation of "ask" as "aks" is sometimes seen as a sign of ignorance, but it should not be. I found the following explanation online:

"While the pronunciation /aks/ for ask is not considered standard, it is a very common regional pronunciation with a long history. The Old English verb áscian underwent a normal linguistic process called metathesis sometime in the 14th century. Metathesis is what occurs when two sounds or syllables switch places in a word. This happens all the time in spoken language (think nuclear pronounced as /nukular/ and asterisk pronounced as /asteriks/).

Metathesis is usually a slip of the tongue, but (as in the cases of /asteriks/ and /nukular/) it can become a variant of the original word. This alternative version in Old English was axian or acsian, as in Chaucer's: "I axe, why the fyfte man Was nought housband to the Samaritan?" (Wife's Prologue 1386). Ascian and axian co-existed and evolved separately in various regions of England. The ascian version gives us the modern standard English ask, but the axian variant ax can still be found in England's Midland and Southern dialects.

In American English, the /aks/ pronunciation was originally dominant in New England. The popularity of this pronunciation faded in the North early in the 19th century as it became more common in the South. Today the pronunciation is perceived in the US as either Southern or African-American. Both of these perceptions underestimate the popularity of the form.

/aks/ is still found frequently in the South, and is a characteristic of some speech communities as far North as New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Illinois and Iowa. It is one of the shared characteristics between African-American English and Southern dialects of American English. The wide distribution of speakers from these two groups accounts for the presence of the /aks/ pronunciation in Northern urban communities.

So in fact, your colleague is correct in calling /aks/ a regional pronunciation, one with a distribution that covers nearly half of the territory in the United States and England."

(Source: http://www.randomhouse.com/wotd/index.pperl?dat...)

The pronunciation is common enough to have engendered a very old joke:

Somebody asked Miss Lizzie the time of day. Said she: "I don't know, but I'll go and ax Father."

That was current humor in 1892. Still not funny, really.

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I can't understand all of the racism and bigotry that came out of this. If you honestly think all black people pronounce ask as "ax", you are a moron. You obviously haven't watched enough gangster movies. Pronouncing it "aks" is a part of the old fashion New York accent. It's not nearly as common anymore as it was.

Concering aunt, I've always pronounced it ahnt/ont. I have a bit of a New York accent so it's sometimes even "awnt". Oh, and I'm 100% white.

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I hate to hear ONT or Ahnt. I'm in Nebraska. But my husband only says Ahnt because that is what he thinks it is in German. His mom says ant.
Ahnt sounds stuffy and not American.

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Okay, I am an African-American from the south, but was raised all over Europe as my father was in the Air Force. My parents grew up in the South and taught me to say "Ahnt/Ont". I do not say Auntie and neither do any of my relatives who grew up in the South. Please STOP making such blanket statements about ethnic groups; They will be invariably disproved by someone...probably on this board. :-)

I think the difference in pronunciation is regional and based cultural differences. You guys have some great points, but I just cannot call my mother's or father's sister an insect. This is just my preference. Btw, New England and the South have way more in common than not.

One final thought: race is a social construction and is meaningless. Please do not refer to blacks as Negros. You wont offend me, but you may offend someone else. Try to climb into the 21st century and refer to us as African- Americans. You know, like Irish-Americans or Italian-Americans. :-) Nice discussion.

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The word for the bug is pissant. The word for my Mothers sister is ant with a silent U

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Staunton, Va is is pronounced STAN-ton. African-American is not a race. It is Negro or Negroid. I suppose black is also correct as negro or negra means black in the latin based languages

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These words aren't Homophones!!! How does the sentence my ant stepped on an ant sound?!?! Makes no sense right?! So personally I think it's ont.

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As a Southerner who had the unfortunate experience of living in New England for 7 long years, let me agree w/the lady from Illinois: indeed, they DO think the universe revolves around them (especially my mother-in-law). I never heard the pronunciation "ahnt" or "awnt" (except from the African-American community) till I moved to this cold and snooty place. Then I had to laugh because my mother-in-law couldn't understand why my daughter didn't know who her "Awnt So-and-So" was. I explained that it was just because she had never heard the word "awnt" in her life.

Another funny. MIL was setting the table w/my daughter at a "Baaa-buh-que" one day, when she said to her "He-ah, huney, I'll do the knives, and you do the fox." This brought my daughter to a complete standstill till I translated, "Forks, sweetheart, she means FORKS." Hahahahaha!

Or how about this one: we were helping MIL prepare for an impromptu trip to FL one X-mas (yes, this woman is just that organized) when she was running around the house panicked because she couldn't find her "khakis." "Oh whey-ah aah my khakis??" Took us quite awhile to figure out that she was looking for the CAR KEYS. Hahahahaha!

I'm happy to say that we are now contentedly living in the South, which, for all its flaws, at least has the advantage of being 800 miles away from my MIL!!!

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Zai says:
February 24, 2009 at 7:51 pm
"Swardie – While I pronounce aunt as "awnt" I would not compare aunt with restaurant since its etymology is French and I am not sure where the word "aunt" comes from."

Aunt is indeed from french too. http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=aunt
appearently it's etymologically related to (and means) "tante", which, since it's french uses yet another "a", closer to the english "far" for example, though more nasal.

I'm from sweden, so my personal pronounciation, which happens to be "awnt" doesn't mean so much, other than that I've tried to embrace brittish english more conciously to balance out my otherwise unproportional exposure to american english. Though in this particular case it seems obvious that "ant" isn't "the american variant, period", simply the choice of the majority.

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Growing up in the south, we always pronounced the word "ant" but the older generation used the pronunciation "aint." Since we learned to call our aunts by name from the older generation, we ended up calling our aunts by name as such: "Aint Bertha" but if we talked about them without a name, is was "my ant." The only people we ever heard say "Ahnt" were on television. The blacks in our area usually used the term "ahntee."

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That last comment fills me with LAUghter!

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It's "Aunt" we don't say "Agust", we say "AUGUST" so we shouldn't say "Ant" instead of "Aunt

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Awhant is just an ugly word. it sounds awful. I would never refer to my parents sisters in such an ugly way. My aunts are able to distingish thier titles from an ant. Because we say aunt and not ant.

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Born and raised in Florida, and lived in Scotland for 20 years before
moving back to Florida. Something happened over those 20 years
because we definitely pronounced it like the insect way back then.
BTW, my Scottish wife also pronounces it like the bug.

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well universally americans say ANT but we came from england and the english language was born there and they say AUNT....but in the american english dictionary it goes both ways

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<blockquote>Anna says:
October 1, 2009 at 8:25 am

Gosh – am I the only Brit here?</blockquote>
No, you aren't.

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Gosh - am I the only Brit here?

It is very difficult to describe how we pronounce 'aunt', because I'll write it my way and then you'll pronounce it your way and it still won't make sense! For example, I was confused by Michael saying it rhymed with 'flaunt', because it certainly doesn't when I say it, but I say 'flaunt' with an American accent it does! Genius, Michael!

So when I say 'aunt', it sounds like "aren't", but you have to do the Brit accent, too!

And if things like this entertain you, come on over to www.anglofile.net and have a look (in the next few weeks I'll be adding articles on how to talk like a Brit, including how to apologise like a Brit and how to swear like a Brit!

Anna.

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The pronounciation of ‘aunt’ as ‘ant’ or ‘ahnt’ is not a function of accent. We can see from the comments posted here that there are regional, cultural, and even ethnic factors involved. Each version may be accented, but the distinct underlying phonemes remain recognizable.

The fact that there are two pronunciations of the word may be traced back to the “Great Vowel Shift” of Middle English. During this change ‘a’ as in ‘fame’ would become ‘a’ as in ‘farm.’ The shift was not universal; it was primarily a southern phenomenon in medieval England – the very region that would later provide the basis for Standard English. Thus ‘ant’ would have become ‘ahnt,’ but not in all parts of England.

Both pronunciations later entered American English in different places and at different times, according to the patterns of immigration. The persistence of the two forms probably has much to do with the word’s intimate tie to family. Nobody has both an ‘ant’ and a ‘great-ahnt.’

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Im from both the South and New England. I was taught to pronounce Aunt like 'Ahnt'. Most people I have discussed this with dissagree and think it should be pronounced as 'Ant'. I don't know about your Aunt, but mine only had 2 legs. Also I have never heard of the 'silent u'. I think people learned to pronounce it as 'ant' because they didn't know how pronounce it with the short 'a' sound as in 'anht'. Accents are part of our culture, but they don't make it right. There is a right way to pronounce it, but I don't know what it is.

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It's interesting to see how passionate some get over the pronunciation of this one word. For the record, I pronounce it like want, though I can't be certain how anyone pronounces that word, either.

I am seeing three distinct pronunciations represented: Ant (like the bug), Awnt, and Ahnt. I have never felt any of these to be superior to the others; they are simply regional and cultural differences. Why not enjoy the salad?

You say tomato, I say tomato, but don't you be dissin' my Auntie!

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We (born and brought up in Boston area, more specifically A"h"lington) were just discusssing this very subject. We pronounce it ahnt, as in laughter. Where did "ont" come from? I've never heard that. We were also discussing the path vs pahth, along with bath, etc. We pronounce all of these the same as ahnt.
Funny story. When we moved one town over, I went to the library with my sons and asked where the books on sharks (shahks) were located. I might as well have been speaking a foreign language. The librarian finally asked, "Do you meal small houses?" (shacks). My kids grew up here and my son came home from basketball practice on day and was using the term "pom" the ball! (palm) I had no clue what he was talking about because of course I would pronounce it pahm.
They have all moved to different areas of MA and now my grand-children pick me up on my pronunciations. They are all starting to have a generic accent like tv news anchors! Takes the fun out of it!

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Oh, I from the Northeastern part of the US.

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I say "awnt" ... "ant" sounds harsh and tacky.

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People let's use nationalities when we refer to ourselves verses the misnomer of skin color like the two gentlemen who wrote earlier. There is no country called white or black, ignorance is a killer.

I'm African-Asian American living in Atlanta, GA and perfer to use "awnt" verses "ant." It seems a bit improper to me to use "ant." However, I realize according to the dictionary both "ant" and "awnt" are acceptable. I totally agree with earlier writer...it's not incorrect because it is used less.

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I say "ont". Grew up in New York and California.

I personally think it's always a little confusing to hear "ant", but I don't really mind or anything. On a side note, I say "add-dult" not "uh-dult".

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Ha, I misspelled "correctly" LOL!

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"You say po-tay-tow, and I say po-taw-tow...

Let's call the whole thing off."

Ontario, Canada lad. "Ant". Awnt sounds snobby. And if you spell it correctlt, and people understand you either way, who cares?

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"Auhnt" from new england

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Education and good sense are two different things.

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I pronounce aunt in my family as "Diane". We're from the west coast. :)

I also say ahnt, to answer the real question.

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That this discussion has been running nigh on to 3 years is amazing. And, for the most part, those who express their opinions, while disagreeing with others, have been tolerant.
Pronunciations will vary with many English words. The English language is dynamic; pronunciation and spelling of many words used in Chaucer's time are today barely recognizable, much less, used. So, may we all continue to agree to disagree, but always in good humor, bearing in mind that "ant", "ahnt" "ont", "ownt", "arnt" and other pronunciations of the word, when used in context, will be understood by those who understand English as meaning one's relative - mother's or father's sister.

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I (african-american born in northern NJ) believe ant comes from the sound, long a + ont or a-unt pronounced casually sounding like ant. Somewhere along the line some pronounced it ant with no obvious connection to aunt. In the south or southern decendents it's many times pronounced aint like the improper contraction. Which puts me in mind of my late aunt whom I referred to as Aint Thelma. It's more due to accent than preferred pronunciation.

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Oh, sorry, lol. I'm from Arkansas and we say "ant".

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According to Webster's New World Dictionary, both pronunciations are acceptable. The problem, in my experience, wasn't in how people said it but how people spelled it. A-U-N-T and not A-N-T.

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the u makes the "a" a short a

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I prononce Aunt ant like the small bug and my friend says ont and i think that people who say ont need help inprononcing in if they are form America.

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jesus this has a buncha posts. i say "aunt" as ANT. im from atlanta GA though and a lot of suthnas say aunt but black people say auntie

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Swardie - While I pronounce aunt as "awnt" I would not compare aunt with restaurant since its etymology is French and I am not sure where the word "aunt" comes from.

To Michele in MD - since when do we change our pronunciation over what people deem snobbish? I for one do not! I was taught English by North Eastern Mennonites(U.S) and will stick with my "awnt."

And by the way Mick - I am not black nor do I have any desire to change my pronunciation out of political correctness . . .what a crock!

I accept that both pronunciations are right and try to leave any assumptions at the door. The use of aunt as "awnt" in the minority does not make it incorrect - just under used.

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Personaly I looked this up to get the correct way of saying Aunt because of a diagreement at work today. Guess what I still don't know so for me it will be Ant

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I'm from the San Francisco Bay Area and say it "ant". Dictionary.com gives both pronunciations, but "ant" is first.

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I am white, older and recently corrected for using awnt instead of ant. My friend thought it sounded a bit snobby. Looking it up I was surprised to see ant as preferred over awnt. My father was French and my mother was an English major - - so I used the form spoken at home. I also put the R in wash, washington which is commonly used by natives from DC. Wrong? Of course.

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Actually, Al Michaels is closer to "the bool belongs to Boolamore, biggiz they recovered the fumble." And John says, "Right, bit it was close."

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Well, we in New England pronounce it "on't" because if was meant to be pronounced "ant" it would be spelled a-n-t, no? It's spelled aunt as in "restaurant" which, I hope, is universally pronounced "rest-aw-ront".

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I was raised in IL and now live in NE. These people up here think they have their own little country going on. When I hear them say ont...it sounds like some pretentious blueblood Redcoat pronunciation to me. The New Englanders actually make things harder to say, in Illinois, things are flattened out so people can talk faster. For instance, although grammatically incorrect, "where are you" is translated into the lightning fast "where you at"...try saying both as fast as you can and you can clearly see one is tuned for speed.

In NE, I actually saw a furniture commercial on TV the other day touting a leathuh sofer. For some reason, they translate words that should end with "a" to "er", and words that should end with "er" to "uh". I've also heard people say "con't" instead of "can't". "Get yaw butt off the sofer and come outside and help me pahk the cah!" "I con't, I'm on the phone with my ont" . "Hi, do you have any Ont Jemima syrup?"

But I'd rather hear the ridiculous NE stuff than listen to Al Michaels on MNF talk about the ref making the "cawl"..and the player catching the "bawl". What dopes those New Yorkers are.

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Seeing as how we speak English which was originally from "England", a lot of Brits say it "Ont", and not Ant. It should rhyme with Flaunt, Aunt. Ant is Ant. The Dictionary lists both pronunciations, but I believe if you were to speak it in the purist sense, it would be Aunt. Ant is just been tolerated for so long that no one has really questioned it. It's the same as Caribbean "Care i bee in" or "Ka rib ee' in". The last pronunciation is probably more accurate as it was named after the Carib Indians. (That's "Kairib"). Accents and Inflections has slowly changed how the word was perceived in the first place.

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I am from the bay area and now live in south florida. When I was younger I always use to say "ant" and as I progressed in school the teachers told us we were pronouncing it incorrectly and ever since I say "ont." It just sounds more educated to me when I hear people say "ont" instead of "ant," because, if not, I literally think of an ant, the insect, walking around in a picnic basket.

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Good one, Mick. Hey, Scaryfunhouse, did you run out of gas because your ch-AH-ffeur forgot to check the fuel g-AH-ge?

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Auntie Mame
Aunt Polly
Aunt Jemima

These are American phrases that have been around for a few decades or more and all were universally pronounced "ant". That does not make "ant" correct or preferred but it does prove one thing, which is that the growing prevalence of "ont" in the past few years is simply more political correctness influence - a "here's one we can give the black folks" gesture if you will. Oh, and scarynotsofunorsmarthouse, I suppose that when you are amused you "loff" out loud?

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Scaryfunhouse, audio is pronounced like AW-dio by most people, not AH-dio. So do you pronounce it AW-nt or AH-nt? Also, as posted above, "au" has many different pronunciations depending on the word, so what exactly do you mean by "Personally I like to pronounce it like it's spelled"? And why should we all accept that your pronunciation is the "right" one just because you say so?

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Oh, and I love coming back to this thread.

I moved to Pittsburgh, PA about 5 years ago from New England and was hit with a TON of new vocabulary that the locals consider to be "correct" or acceptable. ie: a vacuum cleaner is called a "sweeper".

When you're raised pronouncing something, or even describing something a certain way, you become "proud" and refuse to accept what the real definition is.... as is proof with the whole "sweeper" thing....

Go ahead and dispute this anyone, it's really just a matter of ignorance...

Let's hear if for AHNT..... that or let's just change the pronounciation of audio to "adio", cause that's right, right?

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Personally I like to pronounce it like it's spelled. NOT like the bug... maybe the bug should be spelled "aunt" if it sounds like "ant" anyway, right.....
You grow up with pronouncing it one way or another, I guess I just grew up pronouncing it the right way!

p.s. - that was meant to be ironic

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well I'm an Irish Indian African who lives in Western Canada and I say you're all crazy for continuing to add to this post two and a half years later.

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I'm black the word is pronounced "ANT". Blacks butcher the languag no matter what the word.

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i'm from connecticut and i've always said "ont" and i only ever hear people say "ont" i recently found out that pretty much only people in new england pronounce it like that.

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I pronounce it aunt like ont & i'm from India

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i say them both! i'm from the DC area... i'll say "im going to see my ont" but if i actually say the aunt's name, i'll say their ant "i'm going to see ant margie" ... i cant figure out if its regional or not either

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I'm an army brat and have lived in many places. The majority of the folks I know say "ant" as I do and a few of my relatives say "aint". The pronunciation that always makes me cringe is whenever I hear "police" pronounced as "poe-lease".
Jo - Versailles, MO USA (pronounced as "ver sales")

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Just do to this link.

It shows it is correct to pronounce it either way and also explains the origins of each pronunciation.

:o)

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/aunt

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I personally say "ont" and my girlfriend makes fun of me because apparently "ant" is the "normal" way to say it (according to her).

I've always said ONT. She's always said ANT.

I've grown up at Southern California and so has she.

The only thing that's different about us is that my parents are from Taiwan and I basically learned English on my own and she was born in West Virginia, her parents are from the east coast and midwest.

So there...toe-MAY-toe, toe-MA-toe lol...

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I don't think it's beyond you Porsche. I just think you're very stubborn and unreasonable to accept a valid point with which you disagree. "Ant" is more common in the U.S., but not in the rest of the world.

The examples you've given in your latest spittle are fairly absurd, given that "launce" and "draught" are hardly ever used in American English and "laugh" does NOT have a short "a" sound when spoken in England, the country that invented English.

Well said Uncle Ben.

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I'm from Maine, and we've said "ont". But I moved to Florida and everyone here says "ant" unless they're from up north.

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Uncle Ben, I must disagree with some of your points. Aunt is not the only 'au' word that has an 'a' sound. What about 'laugh'? And how about 'draught,' variation of draft' and pronounced the same, or 'launce', variation of 'lance'?

Also, if aunt were the only word pronounced that way (which it isn't), that still wouldn't really prove anything. I'm pretty sure that 'gauge' is the only word pronounced g-ay-ge, with an 'ay' sound. No other word uses the 'ay' sound for 'au', but no one at all would claim that it's pronounced g-ah-ge or g-aw-ge, right?

Of course, I do agree with your main points: both a-nt and ah-nt are correct pronunciations with a-nt perhaps being somewhat more common, depending on geography. Why something so simple has become such a battle out here is really beyond me.

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R,
In all the pronunciation examples you've given, there are several words within each pronunciation group that are pronounced the same (ie...even though the "oo" has several sounds depending on the word, there are many words in the group that are pronounced like "book"---some examples are nook, look, crook, etc. There are also many words pronounced like "soon" --- noon, loon, boon, etc.)

Even with homophones (dear, deer) there are normally several examples of other words with the same spelling that match these in pronunciation (tear, beer)

There is a METHOD to the madness that is English.

The problem with your argument is that your pronunciation of "aunt" as "ant" is COMPLETELY UNLIKE all of the words you've mentioned. According to you and the majority of the people on this board who stubbornly cling to a pronunciation that isn't logical (just because they were raised pronouncing it that way), "aunt" is the ONLY word of its spelling that is pronounced like "ant," whereas ALL THE OTHER WORDS IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE that end in "-aunt" belong to another pronunciation group. To a rational person, this doesn't make sense. Unfortunately, as we have seen time and time again, many people are not rational.

As a side note, other than random dictionary notes in North American dictionaries, there really is very little empirical evidence that the "ant" pronunciation preceded the AHNT pronunciation. And common sense would tell you otherwise if you were just to take a hot second to THINK about the fact that this is the ONLY "-aunt" word that has a popular pronunciation that is different from ALL the other -aunt words. Obviously the pronunciation was changed from AHNT to "ant" and NOT vice versa.

The fact is that the "ant" pronunciation has become accepted and is the mainstream pronunciation in English speaking North America. I don't think anyone disputes that. How this came about is only a scholar's GUESS.

It's only when very ignorant people proclaim that the "AHNT" pronunciation is wrong that problems arise. It isn't wrong, as is evidenced by the fact that the majority of the non North American English speaking world (as well as a large minority of Americans) pronounces it as such AND that the AHNT pronunciation is in line with all of the other -aunt words in the English language. To argue against it, as many people on this board have done, shows a kind of ignorant and foolish arrogance that defies explanation.

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Aint Bee, the "ahnt" pronunciation is a newer invention. It seems a little strange to insist that those who use the older pronunciation are wrong.

Just because "ant" is pronounced the same as "aunt" does not make an "aunt" an insect. I suppose you'd also consider a "dear" to be a four-legged animal.

In your opinion, should the "oo" in "book" and "soon" sound the same? Are you among those who consider "its" and "it's" interchangeable?

Why do we pronounce "through" the same as "threw" instead of "throw?" According to your logic, the pronunciation of "though" would prove the latter correct.

The problem with the argument I've seen here in favor of the "ahnt" pronuciation is that it grossly over-simplifies English pronunciation.

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And Lamborghini, I shouldn't even dignify your snide post with a reply, but not convincing anyone? What I've said is consistent with most of the other posters' comments. I'd love to hear from you regarding exactly what comments of mine you disagree with:

The same combination of letters can have different pronunciations in different words.

-au- has several different pronuncations depending on the particular word.

You can't use the pronunciation of one word to justify how a different word is pronounced.

Most people in this post are discussing ant vs. ah-nt, not aw-nt.

So Lamborghini, how about it? Specifically, which of the above do you disagree with and why? I'd be happy to support anything I've mentioned with facts. Please, if you're still monitoring this post, respond to the questions and leave the snide comments at home. Oh, and you think I'm porsche? I'm not. There are a lot of anonymous posters on this topic. I only commented on the topics I mentioned above.

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John, WHAT are you talking about with "...The /w/ sound is a rounded velar approximant..."??

You don't actually think that the letter W has only one sound, do you?

What about the word awning, or tawny? They do have the same vowel sound as taunt, don't they? DON'T THEY??

Most dictionaries actually USE "aw" as the phonetic representation of "au" in words like taunt, etc.!! RIGHT??

The "aw" sound in taunt has NOTHING to do with the "w" sound in "we" or "well", and, yes, "aw", um, has a DOUBLE-U IN IT!!!!

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Some say AHNT and some say ANT.

There you have it.

Next question, please.

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R, your post is complete and utter nonsense. The word is pronounced AHNT. An ant is an insect. period. Deal with it. You can argue in circles till you're blue in the face and at the end of the day you'll still be pronouncing aunt incorrectly. Good Lord, reminds me of a Hillary Clinton "popular vote" fanatic in denial.

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Maybe they should just change the spelling to "ant" and we can end this whole ridiculous and obtuse argument.

I'll pronounce it "properly" but I'll never tell..........

P.S.- Some of you guys are real assholes, maybe think about changing your professions.... that, or just find a way to stay off the internet

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After scratching my head for a while, trying to figure out why IET would post his/her opinion with such an air of superiority, and then follow it up with proof that s/he's wrong, I've come to the conclusion that s/he must have misunderstood the meaning of an "educated pronunciation." This does not mean that "ahnt" is the pronunciation used by educated people, but rather that it is the pronunciation "fostered by the schools" in those areas, under the mistaken opinion that no two words in English can have different spellings and yet be pronounced the same way.

The fact is that the original pronunciation of "aunt" is the same as "ant." Anyone who says that the "ant" pronunciation is incorrect is simply wrong, as this was the pronunciation used before the introduction of "ahnt" in order to try to sound more French.

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To all who try to use the spelling of "aunt" to justify the "ahnt" pronunciation, please be aware that present spelling of English words often has nothing to do with their original pronunciations. Nor should anyone assume that Americans have "bastardized" the English language, and that anyone from the English aristocracy speaks "pure English." The truth is that "posh" English has been heavily influenced by French. Much, but not all, of this shift in British English took place after the colonists had left for America, causing Americans to continue using the older forms, while many of the English shifted to the more "French" forms. Since there were no radios or recordings at the time, the English soon forgot the older words and pronunciations, causing quite a bit of shock when they once again heard them, generations later, from the Americans.

Also, I'm not sure what IET was trying to prove a few posts earlier, as his/her quotation clearly states that "the /æ/[a] pronunciation of aunt was brought to America before British English developed the /É‘/[ah] in such words as aunt, dance, and laugh."

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Dear Black Lawyer:

As a reasonably well educated Bostonian (Swarthmore undergrade, Yale grad) and one who pronounces all the "r"s that are in words and none of the ones that are not. I find your arrogance towards the "ahnt" pronunciation shocking. Your examples of the other mispronunciations used by "ahnt" speakers seems overtly racist and ignorant. I too cringe when I hear the word mispronunced. "Ant" should never be used for that word. It is not only incorrect, it sounds offensive. However, I do not lord my superiority over those who speak differently than I do, I simply go about my life thinking "wow that undereducated, offensive word - 'ant' - came out of the mouth of a lawyer."

If you disagree with me in any way feel free to base your issues on my statements and not on any misspellings or mistaken grammar you may find. I weakens your case not to deal with issues.

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I'm African American and have always pronounced "aunt" as "ont". Most of my friends do as well. I have noticed that my white co-workers pronouce aunt as "ant" and on every TV show or movie I've ever seen aunt is pronounced "ant".

It wasn't until I was watching The View last fall when I noticed Sherri Sheppard said "ont" when she was talking then a few minutes later she said it again but this time she said "ant". It got me to wondering why she changed the way she pronounced it so quickly. I mean it was literally within seconds. Ever since then I've wanted to know what is the correct way to say it... I mean Austin, Texas is "Awstin" not "Astin".

I will say that after reading what everyone had to say that you can really say it the way you want. I really wish someone would clear it up either way. This has been on my mind so much that is why I decided to do a search for it on MSN and this website came up. Proof that you can find anything on the web.

Take care.

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"And, contrary to what some would believe, if the vast majority of people say the word--any word--in a way that is now considered "incorrect," the "incorrect" one may very well become the "correct" pronunciation in the future."

Many grammar "authorities" just can't accept that popular majority determines usage in language. It's the grammatical equivalent of "look at my Johnny, he's the only one in step in the whole parade."

"Lexicographers are not supposed to invent, but only report."

Unfortunately, lexicographers, like the rest of us, are all too human. They bring their pet notions and causes to the task at hand. There's a long history of obscure and made-up words being advocated by lexicographers. Indeed, some dictionaries deliberately invent fake words for copyright purposes.

As an example, google the word "esquivalience."

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Wow, IET posted all that information to prove himself wrong about the pronunciation of aunt! Perhaps he is trying to pry open his own mind. I wish him all the success in the world with that--it can be a lifelong endeavor, though certainly worthwhile.

Clearly, Roget says that aunt is pronounced like ant. My dictionary has the 'ant' pronunciation first, and the second pronunciation has an umlaut over the a. That means, I presume, that they are both correct but that the 'ant' pronunciation is preferred. So Roget and Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary (Second Edition) agree that AUNT (your mom or dad's sister) is preferably pronounced like ANT (the six-legged guest you didn't invite to your picnic.)

And, contrary to what some would believe, if the vast majority of people say the word--any word--in a way that is now considered "incorrect," the "incorrect" one may very well become the "correct" pronunciation in the future. Lexicographers are not supposed to invent, but only report.

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To Black NY Lawyer:

WOW! Did you say you were a lawyer who was "born, raised, and WHOLLY educated in New York"? Not even partially educated elsewhere? You must be a genius.

Is Pompous Arrogance 101 still a universally required first-year law school course?

Obviously this pales in comparison, but I am Black and I say "ASK" and don't cringe when I hear otherwise. I pronounce the word aunt as "aunt" and don't cringe when I hear it pronounced "ant". I'm an architect--born, raised, and PARTIALLY educated in Buffalo, New York. I went to a Lutheran school, public schools, a prestigious university for my undergraduate degree, and a prestigious Ivy League university for my graduate degree. I now work in a prestigious architecture firm in Chicago.

Does this background mean anything? Yes - it means that that I have been fortunate to have these opportunities and the ability to take advantage of them. It does not mean that I am superior to people who are less fortunate, and it definitely doesn't mean that level of education or intelligence is linked to the pronunciation of the word "aunt".

On a lighter note:

Why did New York get all the lawyers and New Jersey get all the toxic waste dumps?
Because New Jersey got to pick first.

What do you call 10 lawyers at the bottom of the ocean?
A good start.

What's the difference between God and a lawyer?
God doesn't think he's a lawyer.

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To all of you who believe the proper pronunciation of aunt is ant (and that anyone who pronounces it as aant or ahnt is uneducated), try opening your mind and stepping out of your "if the majority does it, then it must be right" world. I have pasted information from Roget's dictionary below. I would think those of you who consider yourselves "educated" would do a bit of research on the topic before deciding to lambaste others. I am sure you also use the word "myself" improperly as do most who consider themselves to be amongst the "most educated." But hey, just about everyone says, "John and myself..." or "..both Sue and myself..." or "Contact Richard or myself..." and some of these people graduated from highly-regarded if not "prestigious" universities, so it must be right....right?

Open your mind, open a few books, and travel the world (and picking up a husband from Canada doesn't count).

From Roget's Dictionary:

aunt /ænt, É‘nt/ Pronunciation Key - Show Spelled Pronunciation[ant, ahnt]

&mdash;Pronunciation note The usual vowel of aunt in the United States is the /æ/ Pronunciation Key - Show Spelled Pronunciation[a] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation of rant except in New England and eastern Virginia, where it is commonly the &ldquo;New England broad a,&rdquo; a vowel similar to French /a/[a] and having a quality between the /æ/[a] of hat and the /É‘/[ah] of car. The vowel /É‘/[ah] itself is also used. In New England and eastern Virginia /É‘/[ah] or the /a/[a]-like sound occur in aunt in the speech of all social groups, even where a &ldquo;broad a&rdquo; is not used in words like dance and laugh. Elsewhere, the &ldquo;broader&rdquo; a is chiefly an educated pronunciation, fostered by the schools with only partial success (&ldquo;Your relative isn't an insect, is she?&rdquo;), and is sometimes regarded as an affectation. Aunt with the vowel of paint is chiefly South Midland United States and is limited to folk speech.
The /æ/[a] pronunciation of aunt was brought to America before British English developed the /É‘/[ah] in such words as aunt, dance, and laugh. In American English, /É‘/[ah] is most common in the areas that maintained the closest cultural ties with England after the /É‘/[ah] pronunciation developed there in these words.

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I've found an excellent way to amuse myself for hours--reading the ant-ont debate (which has now become the ant--ont-aint-awnt debate!)

I love accents of all sorts and have great fun guessing where people grew up based on how they speak. If you actually cringe when you hear someone say a word a certain way, it is definitely your problem (look it up--it's called "projection," and it has to do with what you are afraid you are. In this case, apparently, ignorant!)

I now have white friends who imitate the black 'ax' and black friends who never say 'ax.' Some say ant and some ont, but my rural southern family members say aint. I gave that up when I lived in Indiana and got laughed at...so yes, it is normal to speak the way those around you speak. Duh. Humans are social creatures. How else do you learn language? Apparently, some people think it was piped into their heads in its pure, "correct" form.

The joke about language is that there is no right and wrong (yes, I know that's heresy on this board), but only whether people understand you or not. I have many language-loving friends who adore deliberately distorting words for their own and others' amusement.

Of course, when you write or speak to many people, you also have to concern yourself with the judgments readers make about your intelligence and education, so you try not to trip up--that means you use what doesn't upset the most people. It's just like American politics...you choose the least offensive action. That's why newspeople have bland, unaccented voices. They are one of the reasons I love Holly Hunter--no one has managed to beat the accent out of her.

Finally, as a science writer, well, what can I say to the guy who commented on racial differences being science-based? The big secret is that the different 'races' are pretty darned similar, and getting more homogenized every day. You can call a person black who is 75% white, and no one will argue with you if his skin is even slightly mocha. Does that mean he is significantly genetically different from a white person? Um, no. I'm looking forward to the browning of America.
Melanin is far too unevenly distributed here! And just for fun, I'm gonna start saying "awnt."

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Wow, Black Lawyer you are embarrassing yourself. I'm blushing for you. I feel sorry for you. Get over it. People are going to pronounce words however they want and there really is nothing you can do about it. There are so many different dialects and accents across the world that it is completely mindless to go around criticizing and looking down on people who pronounce words differently from you. You need a serious hug, or a Zoloft or something. Good gracious.

By the way, I love the Boston accent, and the Cape Cod accent. AHNT all the way every day baby!

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OH.. I'm from Cape Cod.

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In coastal New England there are five ABSOLUTES in pronunciation:

1) Aunt is pronounced "ah-nt"
2) Quahog is pronounced "kwa-hog"
3) Tomato is pronounced "toe MAH toe"
4) Often is pronounced with the "T" SILENT!
5) Caramel is pronounced "Ca-rah-mel" (NOT "CARMEL"!)

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I went looking for a place to stand on my soapbox and complain about what's happened to the English language (American version, that is) and found this very entertaining thread which has seemed to survive for quite a long time.

For the record, I'm an "ant" person and would feel very odd to start saying "ont". But, I'm also a tomAHto person - just the way I was brought up - and feel like I'm getting very slangy if I join the huge majority saying tomAYto. But those two don't really bother me.

Here are my hot buttons - should they start new threads, go to a different blog, or just stay right here?

FebUary as opposed to FebRUary. I was shocked and dismayed to find one on-line source telling me that the former is acceptable and maybe even becoming "preferred".

NucUlar as opposed to NucLEar. The former is still (fortunately) considered improper, in spite of it having been the choice of most recent US Presidents.

KYEWpon as opposed to KOOpon. Where did anyone ever get the idea that "cou" could or should be pronounced "KEW"?

NYews as opposed to Nooze. I think that goes along with KYEWpon - people think it sounds classier to mispronounce it that way.

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(a) I watch the BBC; in fact one of my fave sitcoms is "Coupling." I am fully aware of other pronunciations around the world. Re-read my comments -- never said anything other than about American English and Caribbean pronunciation.

(b) Bostonians have awful diction -- "Go "pahk" the "cah" (translation - park the car) is also something I cringe at. Bad example, hon.

(c) Been around the world and snagged a Canadian husband whilst at it.

(d) Most of the people who say "awnt/ont" as pronounce ask as "ax," caramel as "carmel," engine as "injun," and library as "liberry" to name a few ugly, awful, obvious examples.

(e) Get a life; I'm entitled to my superior, elitist opinion about those who butcher American English.

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"Black Lawyer, "Dan," "Dr. Jekyll," or "Mr Hyde," whichever you prefer:

I'm not clear as to why you feel so strongly that the AHNT pronunciation is wrong and worthy of "exposing" people in surveys or "cringing," and the way you pronounce it ("ANT") is correct. This makes you seem a bit delusional. American English dictionaries list both pronunciations as acceptable and even have notes about the different pronunciations.

Although it is true that if one took a survey within the United States and Canada, one would probably find that the majority of Americans/Canadians pronounce this word the same way they pronounce an insect ("ANT"), this fact does not exclude other pronunciations as viable or correct. The AHNT pronunciation is MUCH more common and acceptable than you think. Why? Maybe because it was the original way the word was pronounced?

The majority of people in Australia pronounce this word as AHNT.

The majority of people in New Zealand pronounce this word as AHNT.

Regardless of what anyone else on this blog has said, most people from the U.K. pronounce this word as "AHNT" or "ARNT" particularly older people, whose diction and grammar are usually more refined. Just watch the BBC sometime. Their nickname used to be "Auntie" in fact and in TV specials about it one would always hear the announcer pronounce the word with a long vowel "AHNTIE," and certainly never "ANTIE" or any such short vowel sound.

And even in the U.S......The majority of people in New England, regardless of what color they are, pronounce this word as AHNT, including the whole of the city of Boston (natives, that is).

Of course, don't take my word for it. Just go to these places and hear it for yourself.

If you traveled the world a bit, you'd find that not everything you think you know is true. It is not "improper" to pronounce aunt with a long vowel sound, as you state.
As a "lawyer," what you should be cringing about is that you're not more knowledgeable about such things. I thought lawyers were supposed to be detail oriented, perceptive, and open to facts?

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Dan, I think people get offended when you say it has to do with them being black -- period -- as opposed to any other reasonable explanation. Can you consider for a moment that it may have something to do with education/region? Do you think that Barack Obama, for instance, says "awnt" or "ax?" (I'm just using him as an example that I hope we all have heard speak in the past few weeks.) This is an academic inquiry, please don't be offended.

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I did not have time to proof my message as I had to leave for work. I figured there were a few errors as almost every message I write has some. I know this because I use spellcheck in Outlook and there does not appear to be one here. I never claimed to be a perfect speller or as smart as you or anyone else here in the first place. But I do pronounce words correctly. I say ask when I want to ask someone a question, not ax. And the bottom line is that blacks say ax A LOT. And I just wanted to know why that is so. No one can answer that question though without throwing hateful emails back at me and whoever else asks similar questions. People like you try to imply that we are being racist by asking a perfectly legitimate question. The only reason I did my "pointless racial survey", was that someone on here said that it was "retarded" to think that race had anything to do with the way someone pronounces a word. They are wrong. It did not take much gumption at all to muster up a piece of paper and a pen and put a little check in the correct row. And I was watching TV anyway so it took no extra time or effort.
For the record my back is to the TV while I am writing this and The Price Is Right is on. I hear a guy talking who was picked to play, and he was saying hello to his family...I hear him say "hi Aunty so and so". Yes he was black but I knew that before I turned around to see. :)
Cheers back at ya,
Dan
PS I ran this through spellcheck and I misspelled 3 words. That is pretty good for someone as stupid as I am. :) It says axe is spelled ax so I left it that way. I looked it up and it appears you can spell it either way

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PS, Grammar Police --

I'm a "she." I love how you assume with all of the sexist logic you can muster that a lawyer must be male. Most reasonably intelligent people err on the side of caution and say he/she when they don't know the person.

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Grammar Police,

While you make a few valid points, I have no idea why you're offended by me cringing at improper English. By your rationale, everything in the English language should be pronounced the way it's spelled. And your "reasonably" intelligent tome, I assume you know that that is simply not the case. BTW - My husband, who is black and CANADIAN and also an attorney - also says "ant." So I guess it's the majority of people who have it wrong and the minority of mostly uneducated (regardless of color) people who have it wrong. Right ...

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Dan,
You spelled "grammar" wrong in your last post and "caucasian" wrong in the one before that.

Whilst you're going on doing pointless racial surveys about people's mispronunciations and other assorted foolishness, maybe you should muster up an equal amount of gumption to enroll in an English course at your local primary school for a review of elementary spelling.

Cheers,
AC

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Listen here Grammer Police. I never said I was superior in any way. You are making that assumption and you are wrong. I just wondered why and came here and asked or should I say axed? You apparently did not read or care to take into consideration my little survey I did. These people are from all over the country not one specific region as you claim is the reason why people pronounce words differently. I work with many different races of people (no pink or purple though). All but one black person I work with says axe or axed. All the white, spanish speaking, and asian say ask. Now I never had the opportunity to hear my co-workers say the word aunt so I cant say one way or another how they pronounce it. Maybe I will do so someday as we all get along just fine and I consider some pretty good friends. That includes black and spanish and asian. They will not be offended if I ask. Now they might be offended if I axed them as that could cause serious damage and I would be in jail. :) Plus I like them and would not want to axe them.

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Cincinnati, Ohio. Most of us say "ant" for aunt. I live in a strange area for dialects, though - it's quite a melting pot here. I've heard "aunt as in haunt" frequently, but it always sounds strange to me. Just like when people say "HAIR-assment" for "her-ASSment."

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Dan,
I think you would be hard pressed to find a black person who pronounces AUNT as AWNT. You might be able to find a purple or pink person who does so, but then again, purple and pink people don't really exist.

Sure, a lot of (not all) black Americans do have their own dialect and mispronounce words, such as "ask." But many white Americans routinely mispronounce and misspell common words as well, depending on where they're from or how they grew up. It's just not harped on like it is with black people. One thing that the majority of black Americans have going for them when compared to the majority of white Americans, however, is the correct pronunciation of the word AUNT.

Many black Americans pronounce AUNT as AUNT, which is the way it is pronounced properly. As someone above mentioned, there is no "W" sound in the word and I have rarely heard anyone insert a W sound into the word when pronouncing it unless they are exaggerating it, or they are from New York, where syllables and things tend to get stretched out and exaggerated.

None of the ANT people here can seem to come up with any good reason why they pronounce HAUNT, GAUNT, FLAUNT, DAUNT, JAUNT all the same, yet mysteriously change their pronunciation when the first letter of any of these words is removed. There is no rule of grammar in English that says you must do this. Really, this is the death of common sense in my opinion. These people pronounce AUNT as ANT most likely because "everyone else around me pronounces it like that," without thinking logically about how it makes not even a modicum of sense. Lemmings.

I've heard MANY MANY white British people pronounce the word AUNT in the exact same way as they would say HAUNT, exactly as most black Americans pronounce it. I've also heard many other British people say it as ARNT, but this is obviously a regional thing, similar to AINT in America.

To the black lawyer who "cringes" when he hears the word AUNT pronounced correctly. do you also cringe when someone tells you that 1+1=2? I wouldn't be surprised.

An ant is an insect. That's all it is. If you enjoy calling your AUNT such a thing, that is your right and you are free to do so, but don't go around insinuating that other people are wrong in their pronunciation when you have no logical basis or rationale to back up your supposed grammar superiority.

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Ok I did my own survey on the words aunt, ask. I wrote down on paper ASK pronounced ASK, ASK pronounced AXE or AXED with 2 rows for blacks and whites. I did the same for the word AUNT pronounced ANT, and AUNT pronounced AWNT or ONT or UNT or AWNTY. Most of this survey was taken from courtroom drame shows such as Peoples Court, Judge Maria Lopez, Judge Hachett. Here are my results:
ASK pronounced ASK: 3 black 10 white.
ASK pronounced AXE, AXED: 20 black 1 white.
AUNT pronounced ANT: 0 blacks 11 whites.
AUNT pronounced AWNT, ONT: 12 black 1 white.
AUNT pronounced AWNTY: 8 black 0 white.

So whoever it was that said "it's just retarded to think that being black has anything to do with how you speak. dialect and pronunciation are regional traits." is wrong according to my survey results.
These courtroom shows are taped in different parts of the country from what I notice. Some CA some NY some Mass. and I saw one that was I think in Atlanta.
Friday night a few of us went out for beers after work. 3 of which are black. I asked them why black people say AXE instead of ASK. I didnt get a real anser except from Josh who replied "you dont hear me saying AXE, I was raised in a Caucasion house."

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Seems not too many canadians visit this web sight . I came across it at midnight (couldn't sleep ) and it is now2.30 a.m. Oh so many different explanations of one little word, I have always pronounced aunt ant and truly have not heard ont except from my british friends. Interesting eh!

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I say rnt.
Like R, then nt.
I'm English

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I grew up in Loudoun County in Northern Virginia, and my immediate family always pronounced the word aunt as "aint" like "saint" when referring to a particular person. That comes from my mother's side of the family who are all from Northern Virginia, but I have no idea where they got it from, since no one else around here pronounces it that way. However, if are talking about "aunt" in general, such as "her aunt is coming to dinner," we pronounce it "ant." If we are talking about a particular person in our family, it's "Aint Alice" or "Aint Nancy." I guess we were the local hillbillies.

I believe my father's side of the family, which originated from southwest Virginia and migrated to Northern Virginia, generally say "ant."

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I am Black and I say "ASK" and cringe when I hear otherwise. I also pronounce the word aunt as "ANT" and cringe when I hear otherwise. I'm a lawyer -- born, raised, and WHOLLY educated in New York. I went to Catholic school, university, and law school -- all places where grammar and pronunciation are stressed. 99% of the people in all of my schools, no matter race or color, pronounced aunt "ant."

I think it's a matter of education. I say that because many of my poorer and less educated cousins say "awnt." It, like everything thing in this world, is not a "black" and "white" thing. It's an education/money thing.
Also, Caribbean Blacks say "ant" because we call all female elders "ant-y," not "awnt-y." I am half Caribbean so I can attest to that! That's a regional difference as well. So, you can't lump all Blacks into one category -- imagine that!

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The /w/ sound is a rounded velar approximant. This is the sound found it words such as "we", "well", "win". This sound is not found in words such as "taunt", "gaunt", "flaunt" in US and Canadian English. The vowel sound in these words is a low back vowel.

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Give it up Porsche, uh I mean "Anonymous." Even after your 1,001st post on this topic, you're not convincing anyone.

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What are you talking about, Anne? ALL the words you listed DO have a "W" sound. The DICTIONARY lists the pronunciation as tawnt, gawnt, hawnt, flawnt. that's an "aw" sound, as in "awww what a cute baby". That's how it actually sounds, and that's what's in the dictionary, with an actual printed "w". Oh, that's right. I forgot. You don't seem to believe in dictionaries. Well, see ya later, Anne. I'm due back on planet Earth.

PS - The English aristocracy, does NOT pronounce it as AW-NT, rhyming wiht GAUNT. They pronounce it as AH-nt, rhyming with font or want.

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Wow, I stumbled upon this Web site out of curiosity concerning the pronunciation of the word aunt in different places. Anyone who has a logical brain and a teaspoon of sense would have read Neilbert Blaicher's post of February 1, 2007 and realized that his post settled this matter once and for all, but somehow the debate rages on! How truly bizarre.

Just because the majority of people think that something is right and it finds its way into the dictionary doesn't mean it's right or the original pronunciation. I also have no idea what this porsche character is talking about throwing magical Ws around everywhere. There is no W in aunt or taunt or haunt, neither in spelling nor pronouncing the words!

Aunt is pronounced like taunt, gaunt, haunt, flaunt, and every other word in the English language that ends in "a-u-n-t." The Upper class in England pronounce it this way for a logical reason.....because they have been taught and groomed to do so over generations. Why? Because it is the way the word is pronounced correctly in the English language!

Lots of words in English get changed and bastardized when people move across land and oceans. So what? We deal and accept and adapt. But creating a new nonsensical pronunciation ("ant") and then spreading it around the world through mass media and claiming it to be an alternative pronunciation or (laugh) the "correct" pronunciation while belittling or disparaging those who actually pronounce the word correctly (aunt), is the epitome of absurdity and stupidity.

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your all wrong, it oint!!! Damn that felt good

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I am originally from South Carolina but currently live in Maryland. Growing up, I always heard aunt pronounced 'ant' and I was taught to pronounce it that way. When I moved to Maryland, I noticed that everyone from this area pronounced the word 'ont'. I actually got into a heated discussion with one of my dear friends from here who insisted that only uneducated people pronounced aunt as 'ant'. I insisted that it wasn't a matter of education but a matter of geography.

Very strange how heated this topic makes people. I guess nobody wants to admit that they have been pronouncing the word incorrectly their whole lives! Or, even worse, no one wants to think that they sound uneducated.

My guess is that it's okay to say either. You say 'toe-may-toe', I say 'to-mah-toe'.

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Mr. Pickwick -

You poor SOB, must be miserable in your neck of the woods.

Regards,
Michael Morris

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In England 'Aunt' is generally pronounced as 'Ant'. The only people who pronounce it 'Ont' are members of the aristocracy and the upper classes. The overwhelming majority of black people pronounce the word 'Ask' as 'Axe', and as this phenomenon seems to exist on both sounds of the atlantic, i would surmise that this is indeed a 'black ting', much in the same way as the Irish cannot pronounce words that include the letters 'OW' or 'OU'. Words such as 'Now' for example, become 'Noy' and 'Downtown' becomes 'Dointoin'. None of this would normally register with the average Brit, who generally cares very little about the bastardisation of his/her language by the less-fortunate in foreign countries. However, as a result of the unswerving project by the politically-correct lunatic brigade to apparently maintain a multi-cultural society in our once fine nation, it is the case now that every news-reader, tv presenter, weather person, sport commentator etc etc. in Britain is now either Irish or Black, or both, maybe with the odd jock thrown in for good measure, and consequently we are bombarded with such mis-pronunciation on a daily basis. I have never been to Ireland, and doubt I ever will, My mother was injured by an IRA bomb in '96, my city was blown to smithereens, Irish tinkers move into my local park once a year and leave three months later with no turf, toilet blocks or swings still in existence, not to mention the three month local crime spree which usually results in the theft of every lawn mower and bicycle within a ten mile radius. Therefore I have no love of the Irish race as a whole. However, if I was to visit the place and found myself switching on a TV, i place extreme doubt upon the likelihood of me being faced with an English human, which all seems a little unfair. Irish people can mis-pronounce words as much as they like in their own cesspit of a country, why do they have to come and do it in mine?, that is the question. So they ran out of spuds a few years ago, but surely they could have found something else to eat rather than starving to death or scrounging off us, the fuckin peasants, perhaps this gives some insight into the weak character as well as the illiteracy of the average Irish person...

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I live in Kentucky and everyone I know... with the exception of one aquaintence from Philadelphia... says "ant." Black people and white people. "Ont" is thought to be a northern thing.

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It's all to do with the rising power of England in World War I, along with America and their consequential colonising of other parts of the world, either politically, or culturally, which causes it to be hyper-inclusive of a multitude of languages. Also, for want of a better word, it is an uncreative language, which seeks to retain the spellings of the original languages it borrowed from, rather than derive its own form.

And yes, Chinese will be as challenging, because it is a tonal language, amongst many others (it has 4 tones, and one toneless), and each tone has as many as 25 different characters to it. Sometimes, Chinese words will mimic the pronunciation of the foreign word it is trying to refer to, simply for lack of having its own vocabulary for it. Imagine trying to figure out which characters and tones the foreign words will conjure (e.g., 'Hamburger' is pronounced as 'HAN BAO BAO', and unless you know chinese, you'll have a hard time ploughing through more than a few hundred different combinations of charactes with the same phonetic symbols).

So if you think English tears strands off your head, try Chinese, and you'll go bald in no time!

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Hello everybody
Just to say that I was really amused at this post. I think that english is possibly the only language in the world where you can have such a discussion &hellip; or at least the only indo-european language that do not have rules to relate prononciation and spelling.
By the way is anyone there in the audience that can explain me why is that so ?
I mean how comes that english seems to be the only language in the world (OK I don&rsquo;t know about chinese) where you don&rsquo;t have simple rules to link signs on paper and sounds ?
Thanks in advance

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Well I must say, I'm astonished to see so many posts on the subject. I'm from the midwest, and my whole family pronounces the "au" in the word "aunt" just like the "au" is pronounced in the words "guant" or "flaunt". I think everyone is running around in circles with the whole "ont" "ahnt" and "awnt". Realistically I think everyone has one of two variations of the word in their verbal arsenal. People either say "ant" or "aunt" ("au" like in "flaunt"), and based upon their ethnic and regional backgrounds, all of these derivations take place.

In my personal opinion, I am more likely to accept "aunt" ("au" pronounced like the "au" in "flaunt") as the correct pronunciation of the word for the sole purpose that it follows the unvarying, uniform pattern of every other word in the English language that contains the string of letters "aunt".

It's very hard for people to accept that there may be two right answers, but there, in fact, may be.

P.S. I found Tyrone's post the funniest and most entertaining of all the posts on this page. It was a nice change of pace from the mundane, repetitive, and often meaningless arguments that everyone else is trying to make.

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regardless of how you pronounce anything, it's just retarded to think that being black has anything to do with how you speak. dialect and pronunciation are regional traits. so, yes, it often happens that a lot of people from an area are of the same race and speak the same way, but the connection between race and speech is superificial; it's proximity that matters.

on another note, i have always associated "ont" with the new england accent. my mom's family, who are all from Boston say "ont" and used to yell at me for saying "ant." on the other hand, my dad (who's black!) is from the west coast and is the one who taught me to say "ant."

finally, people speak in different registers depending on the situation they are in...i, for example, call my mom's sisters "onts" and my dad's sisters "ants." it's impossible to talk to people without subtly adopting the vernacular of the group you're in!

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I be from Detroit. I gots 13 aunts. I calls 6 bitch and I calls 7 ho. Now let me ax you sumpin. Hows come in England they says fag when they means cigaret and here we says fag and means Neilbert or ChuckEEE?

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My family went through the serious dust bowl years of Okla/Texas and some of my older relatives say AINT. As in old AINT Edna. I love the differnet regional dialects.

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they beat it out of them in journalism school. same with broadcasting school. announcers are supposed to sound "generic", which one could also call boring or even robotic. but that might be a character judgment as well....

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Wow! I did not expect to even find an answer to my question I typed in Google which was as follows: " why do black people pronounce aunt different than white people?" And I guess I will never know why either. LOL I don't think it is a regional thing as every white person I know says aunt "ant" and every black person I know says aunt "awnt" or "awnty" which the latter drives me nuts for some reason. :) I've been watching those courtroom drama shows on TV (I'm unemployeed at the moment) hence the reason I am even taking the time to research this silly subject. And it does not seem to matter what city or area they are filmed or where the litigants are from, black people pronounce aunt "awnt" or "awnty". Someone mentioned that it comes from the way the English pronounce it. Well if that is the case then why don't we pronounce the word little with no "t" sound in the word the way they do? That is just one small example.
On another note...I've travelled all over our country and have heard many accents. Some subtle some down right annoying. But wherever I go and turn on a TV to watch the news/weather, the anchorperson/ weatherperson, always speaks or pronounces their words the way I do. I have never heard a southern accent, Bostonian (no r's) accent or an ebonic speaking accent on a TV newscast. Why is that? What usually goes through my head is "is this person from around the area I live originally?" or do they beat the accent out of them before they allow them to go on the air? hahaha

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Anonymous II, I agree with most of what you said, except for one thing. It's pretty much irrelevant to what I said. I'm sure that there exists a relatively small group whose regionalisms would make them unable to say or hear an "ah-" sound and hear/say it as "aw-", but so what? the majority say aunt like "ant", and most others say it as "ah-nt". the vast majority say either ant or ah-nt. Using a small minority's inability to distinguish between two commonly recognized differences in vowel sounds ah- and aw- (just look at every single dictionary) surely cannot be used to justify rejecting the more common pronunciation. I stand by what I said before. the point has already been made several times. Listing a bunch of words that have the vowel sound "aw-" cannot be used to support the pronunciation "ah-" over the the slightly more common "a". It doesn't matter if a few people can't hear the difference between "ah-" and "aw-". The fact is, most people can. And, regardless, there are plenty of words spelled "au", that ARE pronounced "ah-" and "a", and, while we're at it, "ow" (rhymes with how, cow, etc.), "owe", etc. So should I claim that aunt should have the same vowel sound as cow? How one word or a list of words is pronounced just doesn't have anything to do with how any other particular word should be pronounced. English is filled with many words of different origins where the same spelling has many different pronunciations. Perhaps you're familiar with "ghoti"?

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My wife, from the Midwest says 'ant'. I am from New England, and I say 'aunt'. I'd like to think because of my higher SAT scores, I am smarter. However, as I did my research (loser) on this issue, I realized what a dope I am. Does it really matter? Certainly not. I have always however, taken great pride in pronouncing words correctly, and typically words frequently used in America but more foreign in their origins pose the greatest challenge. Filet Mignon for example, is pronounced Fill-et min yone (rhyming with moan and accented at the end of the word.) However, when an American tries to sound too French pronouncing it, he/she sounds snooty. Aunt/Ant doesn't have the same implications I think at least, because it's a much more commonly used expression, and therefore local dialect is acceptable...and by the way, I was therefore, wrong in my disagreement with my wife. I'll tell her on our 70th anniversary which is still half a century away...

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I was so amazed to learn that the word "aunt" has caused such controversy in our world. I was really bothered about the pronunciation, so I decided to look up the word on the internet and clicked on this site. I am glad to find out that I am not alone. My family says "ant" and "ont." I think "ont" sounds better.

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Response to Anonymous (previous post): vowels are always ambiguous. Consonants vary minimally from one dialect to the next but mainly it's vowels that distinguish speech forms. The vowels in the words John gives, along with that in the word "aunt," can be rendered in a staggering variety of ways depending on where youre from So maybe, for some people, o and aw are the same.

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John, why does the 'ont' way seem more logical to you? none of the words you listed have the same vowel sound as 'ont'. NOT ONE!!! They all have an 'aw' sound, which would be 'awnt' not ont. This info has been posted three times already. Most (NOT ALL!!!) 'au' words are pronounced 'aw', but so what? Didn't you read the post immediately before yours??

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How do you pronounce the following:
august
author
automobile
auxilary
austin
austere
autonomy

See a pattern here? I simply don't see why the 'ant' pronunciation of aunt is the more widely accepted. In fact, I can't think of any other words with the 'au' beginning that are pronounced like 'ant'...can anyone? The 'ont' way to say it seems much more logical. (Then again, when did logic ever rule with American English?...)

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Sukeshini, I suggest you scroll up and look at the previous posts. None of the words you listed are pronounced like "aunt". While I seem to be repeating myself, some pronounce aunt as "ant" and some pronounce it as "ahnt", but all of the words you list are pronounced with an "aw-" sound, not an "ah-" sound, so your list really doesn't prove anything. Very few (I suppose I can't say none) pronounce it as "awnt". Besides, such a list is meaningless. "au" has many different pronunciations depending on the word. "Laugh" uses the short "a" sound like "ant". "Gauge" sounds like "ay". "Faux" sounds like "oh". None of this has anything to do with how to pronounce "aunt". Unfortunately, neither does your list (which isn't pronounced like ANY version of aunt, anyway).

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went thru all the comments and gathered few words with 'au'
audio
audi car
auction
august
auxillary
autumn
augment
author
audience
audit
auditorium
auto
auspicious
caution

see for yourself how they sound.
so aunt must sound like 'aunt' and not 'ant'

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I am A crack Whore and have no life.....

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Does no one pronounce it the way they do on The Andy Griffith Show, like Ain't. Remember Aint Bea? I'm from Texas and a lot of central Texas folks say it "aint". For myself, sometimes I say ahnt and sometimes I say ant. And I think ahnt sounds the most sophisticated and aint sounds the least sophisticated. But what do I know?

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It's discussions like this that bring me to understand what God was thinking when he destroyed the Tower of Babel and gave the people of the world different langauges (or however the story goes). This issue--is it ant or ahnt--has been pounded for about a year and a half, fostering an environment for absolute assertions, insults, immense pride, and all the things that make the world a nasty place. Thankfully, we are all nerds and nerds do not wield guns. Our equivalents in government, unfortunately, do. Personally, I say ahnt. I am white. I am American. I feel no connection with the British heritage that I lack (my parents immigrants from somewhere that isn't Britain). I will continue to say ahnt forever and nothing will stop me. Furthermore, if you say ant (or awnt or oint or aint or ownt or whatever), that's terrific.

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August; autumn; autonomy; aunt; automotive; etc., ant does not "work". aunt = (au)nt sounding like the "au" sound not (an) sound

Yes, I'm from New England which was settled by the English

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I'm surprised to see you say that, Sara. I am very curious. Exactly what part of the country are you from? Do note, The dictionary lists four different and distinct pronunciations. It has been my experience that most English speaking people pronounce them all differently, with four different vowel sounds as well. This applies to Americans, British, and others who speak English as an international language. Here in In the northeastern US / New England area I have never heard them pronounced the same either. I met one person in college who had a twangy rural accent (not sure from where) who did pronounce them all the same. What was particularly interesting is, not only did she say them the same, she also could not hear the difference when someone else said them differently! It most definitely is a regional/accent variation. See, amazed? You ahvae no reason to be baffled.

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Okay, now I'm totally baffled. I've been amused until now with how very distressed and even holier-than-thou people can be about mere regionalistic pronunciations! But this new "Merry Mary Married Hairy Harry" things has me scratching my head ~ how can all of these POSSIBLY be pronounced the exact same way???

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Well I agree...Merry Mary...etc., is all pronounced the same. We are not discussing accents here, we are discussing the correct pronunciation. Every english speaking country and state I have been to pronounces them one and the same.

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Hey CHIMP, I think it is YOU who needs to check the dictionary, you IGNORAMUS. What exactly is your objection to the previous post? It seemed to me to be a lighthearted attempt to make some interesting points. It was relevant, and no less valid than anything else in this thread. And "Merry Mary..." happens to be commonly used in the formal study of accents and dialects to exemplify Anonymouses point exactly. You are extremely rude and should make your attacks somewhere else. they're not appreciated here. You might want to rethink your pseudonym, too. Comparing you the them is an insult to primates everywhere.

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To the ignoramous who wrote this ^^^^

What you have written is a complete waste of anyone's time. Please refrain from this type of garbage in the future and consult your dictionary next time before making my day a little worse.

merry mary married hairy harry, what an idiot.

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Ok, I'm really going to throw a wrench in the works. The argument so far as been between ant and ahnt. Well, for those who say ant, how many say it with the same assonance as hat, cat, at... and how many say it with the same vowel sound as care, air, etc.? And for those who say ahnt, how many say it like font, con, ponder, and do any say it like awnt, as in fawn, pawn, launder? There, that's four different ways to say it now! Of course, some of it is regional. Many of you may recognize this: "Merry Mary Married Hairy Harry." Some people (and I've met some) will pronounce every vowel in that sentence exactly the same (all like "air").

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Everyone I know says ant..
southern saskatchewan canada

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i am from arkansas and i say ont but i am 1 out of a million but i have never said ant


ewwwwwww!!!

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Everyone take a deep breath, OK? it doesn't matter, tomato, tomahto. WTF, I am from the West Coast orignially and have always pronounced it aunt as in "ont" and everyone can go blow. Everyone mocks each other over the stupidest things, get over yourself. Toodles, I wish I had not ever found this webpage...

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United United United prem Champs 07 United

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All rite m8 im 4m yeovil in england i werent ever vsay nuttin bout no ant onli de poshies say aunt we aint fackin sayin nuttin like dat. Yankee Fackers

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In response to the above comments:

There are many words in the Queen's English that are similar in spelling but pronounced differently. Just because "au" is a part of "jaunt" or whatever examples someone gave, doesn't mean it's pronounced the same. Speaking of Cananda, "Newfoundland" , is not pronounced "new-found-land"....right?! It's pronounced "new-fin-lind". I'm not saying that ant or ont is either correct or incorrect,....but you can't give the above examples as fact. That would surely show your ignorrance and the good Queen shall have your head.

Good day.

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I pronounce it "ont" not "ant". There's no wrong or right way. Either way is fine. Also, not just African Americans pronounce it "ont". I don't think it has to do with education, SES or race.
The way I see it is: There is a "u" A+U=O aunt= ont and ant (insent) = ant, but if I hear someone say "ant" i don't "cringe" because i know what they are referring to and that's what communication/language is all about.

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Neilbert, you make an interesting observation, but the debate is between "a"nt and "ah"nt. NEITHER one rhymes with any of the -aunt words you list. They are all pronounced "-aw"nt. So if the majority of the population says "ant" and according to you they're incorrect, the remaining minority who say "ahnt" must also be incorrect according to you, so, er, um, I guess EVERYBODY is incorrect?? The entire English speaking world?? Even you?? (I can only assume you say "ahnt" since you have only criticized the majority-spoken "ant")

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In Southeastern Virginia (Tidewater/Hampton Roads Region) For anyone with class or regional linguistic pride, "Aunt" usually sounds like "caught" and "haunt" because of our connection with the original people from England that came in the 1600's. There is a "u" in there for a reason people, and it should not be ignored.

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I find it strange that it is the only "a u n t" word that is not pronounced phonetically or with emphasis on all of the vowels. Examples:

chaunt
daunt
Gauntlet
flaunt
haunt
jaunt
taunt

I do not imagine people say,
“What a pretty afternoon, let’s go for a jant, shall we?”
“Wow, that was a dant ing task.”
“If you’ve got it, flant it!”

A majority usage does not make it a grammatical rule. It just means a lot of people say it incorrectly in my opinion, but whatever. It is not a big deal. I shall simply revel in my correctness and laugh at everyone else as they run through the gantlet of the english language and flant their poor pronunciations. I hope no one is upset by my tanting.

PS
Im regards to “ask,” I know black and white people that drop the “sk” and replace it with an “x.” But, I do not a lot of blacks that say “ax” as opposed to “ask.” On the other hand, I know a lot of white people that replace the “k” with an additional “s.” It makes for some great self entertainment. “Hey, Bobby, let me ass you?” “Yeah, go ahead.”

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I'm an African American, and yes, I pronounce the word in question as "Ont." However, I have never "axed" anyone for anything in my life.

* FYI; Though I'm from the Midwest, that Midwestern flat "A"/spitting monosyllabic words into two syllables makes me cringe (e.g. pants == pi-ance, slacks == sli-akhs etc...)

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Growing up in New England,everyone pronounced aunt "ahnt". Just as in AUGUST,AUTO,AUTHENTIC,. The only time we ever heard "ant" was on tv shows. Like" Leave it to beaver."

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What is Chris on about (Oct 29)? "Ax" instead of "Ask", which is 'common' here. In Australia we tend to have more of an Ah-nt; almost halfway between ant and ohnt. In the South, such as Victoria, it is a soft sound, and further north, towards the Top End, it becomes stronger, like 'Arnt'

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my american friends say ant.
in the philippines we say ont.

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As an American whose lived in England off and on, I hear ant and ont both, but to be consistent, if you say ont for aunt you should then say nev-yew for nephew!

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I can't recall hearing "ont" from a Canadian, but I've heard it fairly often in the US. Still, most Americans of my acquaintance, east or west, say "ant"

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It's a shame that some people are so thinned skinned and self-righteous that they find "racism" in such an innocuous discussion. If it is truth, why are you so weak and insecure that you would scream racism? There are racial differences, culturally, linguistically, physiologically, etc. Anyone that claims otherwise is either a liar or a fool. And if acknowledging that there are racial differences is racism, then science is racist. Grow up.

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Clearly, the accepted norm for the pronounciation of aunt in the U.S. is "ant". And it's true, most people who would pronounce it "ont" usually say "ax" and generally speaking aren't the brightest folks.

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Aah-n-t
for me
Im south african, indian

Many of the black population say ant, since they have learnt alot of the english language from American movies,

The white population(influnced by Dutch settlers and English colanisation) say ont.

It definately is dependant on background

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I have always pronounced "aunt" with an ignored "u". I would, if convinced I
was in error, make a concerted effort
to change. I had given the word "aunt"
a picnic pests name "ant" If I pronounce it aunt, giving recognitian
to the "u", I would sound like a goose.....
"auunt-auunt auunt"
Or I could give it a Opie translation and call it "Aint"

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Yes, but Klaus, it's not pronounced ahtomobile either. It's awtomobile, and aunt isn't pronounced awnt. Regardless, comparing similarly spelled words in English is almost meaningless. There are so many different word origins that the same spelling can have many different pronunciations. The same pronunciation can also have a dozen different spellings.

PS - The dictionary is supposed to represent a consensus and be a final arbiter to allow some common method of communication. Ahnt is also listed in the dictionary (albeit after ant), so ahnt isn't wrong. According to the dictionary, ant may be preferred, or perhaps more common. To say the dictionary is wrong seems an odd point of view. The dictionary is simply a rule book that we as an English speaking society agree to abide by so that we can all have a common ground for communication. You're certainly free to say aunt any way you like, but it seems a bit self-centered to think that the rest of society is wrong.

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Hey Dan B. ... AHNT! AHNT! AHNT! AHNT! AHNT! AHNT!

Being a German/American who grew up in the midwest I always have said ahnt. My wife, who is an English major says its supposed to be pronounced "ant" as in the dictionary. But according to me, she and the dictionary are wrong. They do not pronounce "automobile" as atomobile.

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I have to say that I am a black woman and yes, I pronounce "Aunt as Ont", and no I don't do so because I am black. I don't know why Aunt would be pronounced ant. It doesn't sound right to me. Ant = Ant.

My dictionary states that Aunt can be pronounced two ways:

Aunt (ant or änt)

For everyone that is trying to make it seems as if only black people say "ont" instead of "ant", you need to stop stereotyping and open your eyes to the real world!

Another thing, for the person that said that black people say "ax" - I say ask. Oh, and if a black person has said "ax", in your presence, I am sure he or she wasn't the only race that have done so.

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I'm an English teacher in Turkey .Here we say and teach it as ont / ahnt plus my American friend whose English I like a lot pronounces it the same.I'm her twins' ahntiee :) (she's from Pennysylvenia)

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I am from Virginia and our family always has said "ont." My husband's family all say "ant" and they think I am trying to be posh with my pronunciation, but I can't help it. My children have two kinds of female relatives of their parents, "ants" and "onts." One for my husband's side and one for mine. They will grow up confused!

I am a medical transcriptionist so I hear lots of pronunciations and most everyone says "ant," except me and my extended family. This is definitely a regional thing and has nothing to do with your level of education or your race.

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I'm from Salt Lake City, Utah, and I say "ant."

My wife is from the San Francisco Bay area, and she says "ant."

I have never heard a Westerner say "ont." We live in Virginia now, and once in a while I hear someone say "ont." People don't typically talk about aunts in Virginia--they talk about property values, which is far more annoying than "ont."

I lived in Rhode Island for a few months, not long enough that I remember anyone saying "ont" instead of "ant," but long enough that I remember a few people saying "con't" instead of can't.

Merriam-Webster lists "ant" before "ont" but does list both pronunciations. For can't, it lists three: can't, "con't," and "cain't" ("especially Southern" it says).

Finally, I find "ont" mildly annoying but not worth complaining about (except when anonymous on the Internet). :-)

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A person from Worcester, Mass., once saw a cartoon with a couple on a picnic blanket and a bunch of old ladies walking by and the caption, "What would a picnic be without aunts!" AND DIDN'T GET IT because he pronounced the word aunt as ont. He remembered the cartoon DURING a discussion of the ant/ont pronunciation. My father was English, and both sets of grandparents were from England (Yorkshire), and we pronounced the word ahnt.

The Oxford English notes that Chaucer spelled ask as ax, and that most of England did, too, up until the time of Shakespeare. Post-Shakespeare the word became ask. So the African-American pronunciations of ax and ahnt probably both came from older English pronunciations.

The Brits use autumn rather than fall, but our term fall originated with a Brit phrase "the fall of the leaves" which disappeared there.

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I say both "aunt" and "ant".....I drive myself crazy with it.....When I say "ant" I feel like a total hillbilly and so correct myself by saying "aunt" even though I don't really know which is actually right...So I probably end up sounding like even more of idiot by saying both ways than if I were to just pick one already! THANKS JUSTIN for pointing this out to me! -punk!

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ITS ANT. I ALSO CRINGE WHEN I HEAR WHITE PEOPLE AHNT. BUT I LIKE IT WHEN I HEAR BLACK PEOPLE ANT (AND SOME DO:)

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We in India normally say 'Ont.'

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It's my understanding that most black Americans descended from slaves that worked in the owner's home say ont instead of the more commonly acceptable ant for aunt. That's because this is the way it was pronounced by their slaveholding proper English owners (circa 1700's) in the south and then by their descendants. It is a vestiege of slave days. Many old southern families still say ont just as blacks do. It belongs to the southern plantations and the English speaking slaveowners.If I were black, I would surely not say it that way.

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Hey Stan, why don't you go back to your ukelele? Up here in New England (for geographic illiterates like you, we're also Americans), we pronounce it "ahnt", ok? Nothing wrong with that, and pronouncing it like the insect has always sounded weird to me.

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You're all a bunch of racist morons with too much time on your hands. I know plenty of African-American people that can speak circles around any "white" person. So, your comments of "blacks" saying the word 'ax' instead of 'ask' and the pronunciation of aunt vs. 'ant' being a "black thing" is completely out of line. I would hope that you would re-examine your theories and find true and factual hypotheses based on research and not hearsay!

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I say 'ant' and 'Aw -di' as in Claude, or audio. I'm Irish.

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So how do you say AUDI.. I belive its owdee..

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Lozza,

What about Appalachian English, which is known to be more conservative than most other dialects? The English spoken in Tennessee, Kentucky, the Carolinas, and surrounding areas retains many of the features of English spoken northern Engliand in the 18th century. And why even have the letter "r" if you can't pronounce it? The English talk like they're from Boston or something ("pahk ya cah in hahvahd yahd"). While I find the Texan insertion of "r" into words where it doesn't belong (i.e., "idear," "drawring") to be annoying, I must point out that American English, in recognizing the existence of the letter "r," has given us one of the world's most unique phonemes: the rotacized r. In England, the word "bird" pronounced "beud," two consonants and a vowel, that's it. How boring. In America, we use the "r" as a vowel ("r," being a liquid, has flexible properites and has close affinities with vocalic sounds. Note also, "L," and semivocalic glides "w," "y"). Did you know that less than one percent of the world's languages have this phoneme, the rotacized r? Ha! It's YOU guys who have bastardized (note the intentional "z") English!

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R-N-T. The U makes a sound too. AU is pronounced as R. English is English, not American. As a Brit' I think it's time the Americans called their Language something else. It's not English - it's been bastardised too much!

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All you have to do is look in a dictionary. The word is pronounced like "ant" unless you're black, then it's "ahnt". That's right Stan, blacks say "ax" and "axed" but so do a lot of white people in the New Orleans area.

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I have no family, I am gay.

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"Clive Hutchings Feb-9-06 9:26AM
Also in response to IDgaf - I think Londoners pronounce it to rhyme with 'aren't' because they are trying to sound a little posh!!!"

what a strange theory... it seems to me that the aren't-rhyming pronunciation is a corruption of the original, which sounded more like "awnt", i believe. it has been further corrupted over the years by regional idiosyncracies, which is fine, it happens all the time. if (or rather *when*) Londoners pronounce it "aren't", they are doing so because they are in London, in the south of England! "ant" is northern only.

here's a challenge - who can find another word in which the "au" is pronounced as "ar"?

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Also in response to IDgaf - I think Londoners pronounce it to rhyme with 'aren't' because they are trying to sound a little posh!!!

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I live in the south-west of england and we pronounce it ant. None of my 'ants' think I am being in the least bit demeaning or that, in any way, I am likening them to the insect. It is accepted as the way we pronounce it here.
More often than not we say auntie but pronounced the same way as 'anti'. Either way we get sweeties and cakes from our favourite ANTI!!! Ha ha!

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Myself and my roomate disagree. He says he's always learned that it;s proper to say Ant, while I being from Canada prounce it Aunt. We arent sure.

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"BigJock Jan-18-06 6:26PM

UK wide, we pronounce it 'ant'."

Not so. In London people say pronounce it to rhyme with 'aren't'. When I've been in the north of England I've heard 'ant'.

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IT'S ONT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! NO ONE WANTS AN ANT FOR AN AUNT!
AUNTS ARE COOL <3

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I say ahnt because I don't want to confuse my aunt with an ant.

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I'm from NJ (I don't speak anything like a New Yorker) I say 'ant'
Cal - I cringe when I hear 'ont'
I believe the story goes..'ont' being the New England pronunciation. After the Civil War, women in NE felt it was their obligation to school Southern African Americans. The African Americans picked up this pronunciation and it has spread throughout the country as they moved through out the states. 'ant' is still the most accepted pronunciation. The only other people I've heard say it 'ont' mispronounce many common words. I'm inclined to put that pronunciation in the mispronunciation category because of that.

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Bigjock, I have heard audi pronounced as you said, but I have also heard it pronounced awdi, as in "audio" or "Claude."

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In southern Britain one says 'arnt' ~ long 'a' ~ 'ont' rhymes with 'want' and is therefore wrong.

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Central Canada says 'ant'
British parents say 'ant'
My Filipina workmate says 'ont'

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UK wide, we pronounce it 'ant'.

How do you lot pronounce the German car maker, Audi? Over here we say 'ow-dee.'

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Using that logic, Arfon, shouln't you say "awnt", rhyming with haunt or taunt?

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In Virginia (The real one, not West), we say 'ont' because there's a "u" in there. I don't think I have ever heard of a silent "u".

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I grew up in the suburban Midwest (Kansas City aria) and I only heard ah-nt from African-American kids at school.

I'm on the south east coast now and I hear ah-nt MUCH more often from "Southern" women.

Strangely, "Southern" men from the same families say ant.

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I would probably say ont because if you are referring to you aunt as aunty, then it wouldn't sound right if it was (AN-tee) unless you have a new york accent.

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I am from Sweden, and sadly enough my english is a mish-mash of british english and american english, therefore the pronounciation depends upon the accent of the person whom I'm talking to. My br. english teacher hear me saying "ah-nt" and talking with friends in class I use the long vowel.

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I looked at the UWisconsin link and was very surprised by the results. I think it must have been a very Caucasian poll. I, too, am Caucasian, but I don't know any African-Americans that pronounce the word "ant". All of my black acquaintances and friends pronounce it "ahnt".

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I grew up with the "ont" pronunciation in my family (African America from New Jersey not "Jois-see".) But since I moved to CA I've made a lot of friends that are Phillipino and I've noticed myself changing to "ant" and "ant-ee".

Another cute thing I picked up from my Phillipino friends is the term of endearment "Auntie Baby" (ant-ee bay-bee) referring to your youngest Aunt. Almost all my friends have an "Auntie Baby" and I think it's just the cutest phrase.

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In the Northwest part of the states, it's "ant" 99% of the time. In the Midwest I'ts "ont" 99% of the time. In my research on the origins of the word "aunt", many sources say that the "ant" pronunciation is the original one, but "ont" has and is becoming a more widely accepted pronunciation. The dictionary also uses the pronunciation "ant". I wish I knew.

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"ah-nt"for me, when I heard this word for the first time in my life from a nun from Ireland in 60's in Japan

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We pronounce aunt as "ant" in the Philippines where we use the American English standard.

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Chris that's a great link, nice one!

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"aren't"/aaah-nt for me, as a southeastern Brit

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Bert Vaux at U Wisconsin has generated some nice maps of U.S. dialect. The link below will take you to maps showing the distribution of the pronunciation of "aunt."

At the end of the day, about 3/4 of the country pronounces "aunt" the same way they pronounce "ant." The Northeast (where I and most of my aunts live) is the region where "ahnt" is most common, but this amounts to about 10% of the U.S. population. Interestingly, about 7% of the population reports that they say "ant" when refering to a particular person, but "ahnt" when refering to the general concept. In my family, most of my aunts are "ahnts" but I have a couple great "ants" who hail from the same western Massachusetts hill town that is otherwise stocked with "ahnts."

Please do not marry into my family if you are part of the 3% of America that pronounces "aunt" with the same vowel sound as is used in "caught. We could not handle the (additional) confusion.

Here is the link:
http://cfprod01.imt.uwm.edu/Dept/FLL/linguistic...

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Well I live in the Bay Area in California and I've always said "Ont" but I definitely hear people say "Ant" now and then. I seriously cringe when I hear people pronounce it, "Ant."

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As with practically ALL vowels, it depends on where you are from.
Furthermore, the way we are writing these variations down is also affected by our own vowels - 'ant' for an American probably means a long 'a', but for somebody from the north of England it means a short 'a'. So if we write down 'ant' or 'ont', even when we give examples of things it may rhyme with (forgetting that those vowels also shift), it might be helpful to use the phonetic alphabet where possible (not easy, of course, when posting on a forum).
And you shouldn't refer to that British pronunciation as 'posh'. Many non-'posh' people use similar vowels.

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I'm Irish and I say 'ant'. I don't usually hear the 'ont' pronunciation but I could imagine someone with a posh British accent saying it.

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I'm from Tennessee/Alabama. Around here we say "ant" as in the animal (rhymes with "can't"). However, the majority of people of African decent say "ah-nt" (I'm assuming that's what you mean with "ont").

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I hear both on the West Coast of the United States.

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We say "ant" in Northern Illinois. I think it's common in the midwest/Northern regions to say it that way.

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