Proofreading Service - Pain in the English
Proofreading Service - Pain in the English

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Proofreading Service - Pain in the English
Proofreading Service - Pain in the English

Your Pain Is Our Pleasure

24-Hour Proofreading Service—We proofread your Google Docs or Microsoft Word files. We hate grammatical errors with passion. Learn More

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.”

  • Posted by jon
  • Filed in Misc
  • 12 comments

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It was only pronounced "ant" until around the 1700's when the French started to move to Great Britain even more than before. They're accents started to blend into English and resulted in "ah-nt." "Ant" is correct, but, despite the explanation, people will still disagree.

YaBoiGumby Jun-04-2018

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I live in lower Michigan (grew up in Detroit). I've noticed that most of the white people here say "ant". I and most black people say "ont" or "ontee". I've also noticed that a few of the people from the deep south (or whose families are from the deep south), both black and white, say "aint".

Jackpot Jul-04-2018

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Edward Michaels says there was a flip in the 70s/80s when black Americans began saying "ont". This certainly didn't happen in the Detroit area. I'm 70 years old and my family including aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents, and every child I grew up with and their parents all said "ont". If there was a flip here, it must have happened before I was born.

Jackpot Jul-04-2018

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Texas / Illinois / Califonia
It's prononced ant. Not ont. Similarly, either is pronounced eee-ther, and not eye-ther, unless you want to be like Madonna and pretend you have an English accent. Go ahead and pronounce the word laugh as loff and notice how you get loffed at.

JSBSF Dec-05-2018

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Texas, Florida, Illinois, California:

We pronounced it like aint growing up in Dallas, and got laughed at for sounding too country. Now I pronounce it ant, and refuse to pronounce it as awnt because that sounds pompous, like Madonna talking with that fake English accent - we know she's from Michigan.

Also, I pronounce the word either and neither as eee-ther / nee-ther, and not eye-ther / nye-ther because... same reason I'm not British. Words aren't always necessarily pronounced the way they are spelled. If you feel like they should be, then start pronouncing 'do' like 'so' and not like 'too', and by all means pronounce two like it's spelled. Pronounce laugh loff, and see how people laugh at you the way they did when I used to say "Aint Shirley".

JSBSF Dec-05-2018

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I am from Jackson, Michigan (US) and pronounce it "awnt/ont/ahnt." I do as such because of the 'u' (aunt). In Ann Arbor, most pronounce it the same way but in Jackson, it is most pronounced "ant." I see both as acceptable. English is confusing and crazy, that's the point of this website. Both are correct, "awnt" tends to be more formal. Use whichever you want and understand that others can say it differently.

Aly Cat Dec-11-2018

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Taunt, flaunt, daunt, haunt,AUNT

user107517 Dec-23-2018

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If you call an Aunt an Ant do you call your mother a "Moth"er? If you call an Aunt an Ant do you pronounce Australia like Aestralia? I fear that the mispronunciation of Aunt comes from the inability of current people's ancestors to read. So very much like the current trend of troglodytes to use double negatives to add emphasis to their statements I am inclined to think that people mispronouncing Aunt as Ant is simply a matter of ignorance of how written English should be pronounced.

mbtaber Apr-06-2019

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I have always pronounced "aunt" as ANT.

user108485 Dec-11-2019

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If that logic were applied to the word "punt" or the derogatory
c-word, the words would be mispronounced. From punt to pant, and c-word to cant.

user110854 Jun-07-2021

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When that logic is applied to similar words it doesn't hold up.
Runt to Rant
Punt to Pant
Austin to Astin
Auburn to Aburn
Autumn to Atum
Authority to Athority

user110854 Jun-07-2021

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This thread started with a question on 'ask' vs. 'ax'. Let's look at it from a linguist's perspective, shall we? In Old English, while there is still some debate, it appears we 'asked' for things. But all language evolves, and at some time during the evolution from Old English to Middle English, the 's' and 'k' became transposed, producing 'aksed'/'axed', or any one of the other spelling variants. I won't get any further into the weeds on the entomology. Beowulf uses that pronunciation. Chaucer, using his native Later Middle English, wrote it as 'ax'. The 1585 version of the King James Bible wrote it that way. It was pronounced that way during that time period.

While in England the evolution of English eventually resulted in it being pronounced 'ask' again, you had people migrating to the new world in the 17th Century, when 'ax' was still in use. This was the case even though amongst the educated elite, 'ask' had become the norm by Shakespeare's time. It must be kept in mind that most people who came to the New World were not the educated elite. So, the majority of English spoken in the colonies would have used 'ax'.

Interesting factoid: when a language is exported elsewhere, it tends to remain static in the place it lands, until outside forces cause it to change. Where English was concerned, the language evolved far more quickly in England than in the colonies. There are linguists that maintain certain forms of American English still more closely resemble Later Middle English than any English produced in England today.

Eventually, American English was influenced by newer forms of British pronunciations through exposure to the influx of British immigrants over many years. But certain populations largely escaped the levels of exposure necessary for 'ask' to become ingrained. One example of that is the Gullah-speaking people of the OuterBanks, which until
recently has been quite isolated. Still other examples are certain dialects within the Appalachias, where use of 'ax' continues to this day (albeit primarily amongst older residents.) In addition, until very recently, large segments of the Black population in general used 'ax'. Why Blacks? Segregation, of course. But that has been rapidly changing. With the advent of integration has come exposure to 'ask', and with exposure has come change. It's still early days in that process, but in the 'ax' pronunciation is quickly becoming the exception rather than the rule.

It's important to note that whatever your personal views on the 'correctness' of this word's pronunciation might be, linguists do not view 'ax' as an aberration or a bad thing; merely a dialectical difference, easily explained by history. I suggest y'all take up the same mantle.

Baba Sep-02-2021

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