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An English Professor

Joined: December 30, 2011  (email not validated)
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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.

M.A.S. December 30, 2011, 12:07pm

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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.

An English Professor December 30, 2011, 11:56am

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