The British short vowel ‘ɒ’ & other English vowel sounds

There’s a short vowel that we use in British English that doesn’t occur in American. You’ll find it in words like ‘lot’, ‘rock’ and ‘bomb’. In this vowel pronunciation video, we compare it with two other vowel sounds that Americans commonly use instead.
Working on English vowels is a great way to improve your accent. Whether you want to sound British or American, this video will help.

Click here to see some more pronunciation videos.
Click here to see more videos on British and American differences.

The short vowel ‘ɒ’ and other English vowel sounds

There’s a vowel that I say in British English that Jay doesn’t say in American.
Really?
Yes, I say it a lot.
A lot?
No, a lot.
Lot?
Exactly. You see we say that lot vowel differently.
Today we’re looking at the vowel sound ‘O’. I’m British but I live in the US and this is a vowel sound that I don’t hear here. ‘O’ ‘O’. So in this video we’ll look at what I say and what Jay says instead.
And I’m American so I’m going to show you how to say things properly.
You mean properly.
Properly.
OK, let’s get started and compare how we say some words. See if you can hear the difference.

Hot. Hot.
Hop. Hop.
Rock. Rock.
Job. Job.
Box. Box.
Jog. Jog.
Stop. Stop.
Clock. Clock.
Proper. Proper.
Bomb. Bomb.

Did you hear the difference? I said O.
And I said AH.
So when Jay says bomb, it sounds like balm to me.
Bomb.
OK, balm is a cream that you can put on your skin and it smells nice. Say balm.
Balm.
And a bomb is a weapon that explodes. Say bomb.
Bomb.
They both sound the same in American.
Yes. Bomb. Balm.
OK, let’s look at how I say O.
O is a short vowel sound. I pull my tongue back in my mouth and I round my lips. O. O. It might feel like it pulls your cheeks in a little. Try it. O. O. Bomb. So I said o but what about Jay?
Bomb.
So he says AH, like in the word father, or heart. To say AH you have to drop your jaw and press your tongue down at the back of your mouth. AH. And notice the mouth is very relaxed. You don’t round your lips. AH. AH.
But there are regional variations with how Americans say these words.
They can vary in the UK too.
In some parts of the US, instead of AH, you’ll hear another sound that’s very similar, but a little different.
Let’s hear it Jay.

Sorry. Sorry.
Lost. Lost.
Horrible. Horrible.
Strong. Strong.

So this time you made an AW sound.
AH, AW, they’re very similar.
Yes, with AH, your mouth is relaxed. AH. With AW, your tongue moves back just a little, but the big difference is your lips come forward and round a little.
AH. AW. AH. AW.
I think the AW sound is pretty similar to the British O sound.
Oh, maybe that’s why we understand one another.
Yes.
AH. AW. O. AH. AW. O.
Sometimes we have to check we’ve understood but normally my O sound isn’t a problem.
Unless Tom is staying.
Ah yes. My son’s name is Tom. It’s short for Thomas. So to me, he’s Tom. But what about in American English?
Tom.
Tom?
Yes.
So when Tom’s American friends call to speak to him they say ‘Is Tom in? And I think there’s no Tom here.
She thinks they’ve dialled the wrong phone number.
Yeah. And then I realize they mean Tom.
So if Americans want to make the British sound, what should they do?
OK, AW is a good place to start.
AW, like in the word ‘law’.
Yes. Then pull your tongue up and back a little and round your lips.
AW. O. AW. O.
Yes, and keep your jaw up. There’s generally less jaw drop in British English.
Proper British English.
And proper American English.
We try to teach you both varieties at Simple English Videos.
Yes, and please share this video with a friend if you’ve enjoyed it.
And we’ll see you all next week everyone. Bye.
Bye.
If you liked this video on vowel sounds, click here to see some more pronunciation videos.
Click here to see more videos on British and American differences.

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