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Why can Americans not pronounce the letter "O"?

You have certainly heard their feeble attempts to speak English, and one of the more salient features is that most of the time, any "o" sound gets twisted into a sort of "aww" noise. Let me give you some examples: They have "Gawwd", "lawks" on their "dowwers", Taam Cruise, and so on. Sounds awful.

But it there a reason for this deformation? Other colonials do manage their vowels reasonably comprehensibly, so can you tell me why the Americans caaan't?

32 Answers

  • 1 decade ago

    Actually, most Americans can manage their "o" sounds just fine. From the descriptions you offered, it sounds like you were hearing a regional dialect. That funny "o" sound, especially as you describe it with "Taam Cruise" is more common in the Northeastern part of the US than anywhere else.

    Come out to the western US. We have funny regionalisms here, as well, but our "o" sounds are generally first rate.

    Might I just ask when we earn the right to no longer be colonials? I was just wondering, since it's been well over two hundred years since we broke ties with England. And is everyone who lives in one of the pink places a colonial? (To understand that, you will need to have seen the film "Hope and Glory" or at least the bit about "Pink! Pink! Pink!" and the sun never setting on the British Empire.)

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  • 6 years ago

    I'm not trying to offend anyone here but most americans I've heard talk can't pronounce the letter o. The ones I have spoke to say things like great jub instead of job or affice instead of office or caffie instead of coffie or impassible instead of impossible, I'm not judging a whole nation just what I have heard on my own personal experiences. Saying that the world would be a boring place if we all sounded the same.

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  • 1 decade ago

    You are referring to particular parts of the U.S. where people have developed an accent. It's interesting, folks in the East tend to not pronounce their r's, while folks in the south tend to insert r's where there aren't any. For instance, someone from New England would pronounce "park" like "pak," while someone from Texas would insert an r into a word like "washer," and it becomes "warsher."

    Language changes over time, especially in isolated areas. That's why American English (Australian English, etc.) has changed from British English. It sounds like you take great pride in British English, but trust me, if and Englishman from a few hundred years ago could hear you speak, he'd say that you have got it all wrong. My advice is to just go with the flow and take some tea.

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  • 1 decade ago

    It's simple, really. It's cultural, even within the boundaries of one's own nation. Hang out in the USA and ask a Californian, a Georgian, A Texan, etc, etc, to speak any given word, and you will hear startlingly different dialects. It's not that 'we' Americans "can't" manage vowels "reasonably comprehensibly", it's simply that we are all accustomed to hearing, and recognizing, the particular sounds of our own cultural dialects. That doesn't make one pronunciation wrong and the other's simply linked to the area that we grow up in!

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  • 6 years ago


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  • 1 decade ago

    Because everyone else says it? If it was different sounding, people would grow up learning how to say it that way instead. It all depends who you grow up around, and since everyone pronounces the letter "o" like aww, thats how everyone learns to say it in america.

    Source(s): random guess =/
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  • Wendy
    Lv 4
    4 years ago

    many things are pronounced differently in the U.S. from U.K. countries schedule vitamins weekend jaguar etc also words are spelled differently color colour etc recognize recognise etc Elizabeth Elisabeth etc also some words in U.K. double the l before some words ending in er and we do not it is just the way language evolved over time in these countries that is where the expression separation by a common language comes from no reason for some people here to get their panties in a bunch over it btw countries that speak spanish in the western hemisphere i.e. mexico central and south america pronounce words differently than they do in spain and french speaking canadians speak differently from people in france so it is not unique to english speaking people

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  • I believe what you're referring to is not why Americans can NOT pronounce the letter "O" as if it's incorrect but rather why Americans don't pronounce the letter "O" the same as you do where you are from.

    If you take a look at for instance and look up and listen to the words as they are pronounced, this is how Americans are taught to say words from birth.

    Every word you mentioned in your question is pronounced exactly as you say by nearly every "American" who was born, raised and went to school from day one.

    I am American and that's exactly the way I have always spoken. If you don't say "LOCKS" and in "LAWKS" how do you say it?

    If you watch the American Spelling Bee (perhaps there's a lot of videos on YouTube of our national spelling bee), you will see that even in that case, we speak "American - English". It's a different dialect nowhere near Colonial English. That doesn't make us wrong. It means we use a different dialect.

    Below is a copy of American Dictionary pronunciation key. It's not the greatest example but it gives you an idea.

    [b] boy, baby, rob

    [d] do, ladder, bed

    [f] food, offer, safe

    [g] get, bigger, dog

    [h] happy, ahead

    [j] jump, budget, age

    [k] can, speaker, stick

    [l] let, follow, still

    [m] make, summer, time

    [n] no, dinner, thin

    [ng] singer, think, long

    [p] put, apple, cup

    [r] run, marry, far, store

    [s] sit, city, passing, face

    [sh] she, station, push

    [t] top, better, cat

    [ch] church, watching, nature, witch

    [th] thirsty, nothing, math

    [th] this, mother, breathe

    [v] very, seven, love

    [w] wear, away

    [hw] where, somewhat

    [y] yes, onion

    [z] zoo, easy, buzz

    [zh] measure, television, beige


    [a] apple, can, hat

    [ey] aid, hate, day

    [ah] arm, father, aha

    [air] air, careful, wear

    [aw] all, or, talk, lost, saw

    [e] ever, head, get

    [ee] eat, see, need

    [eer] ear, hero, beer

    [er] teacher, afterward, murderer

    [i] it, big, finishes

    [ahy] I, ice, hide, deny

    [o] odd, hot, waffle

    [oh] owe, road, below

    [oo] ooze, food, soup, sue

    [oo] good, book, put

    [oi] oil, choice, toy

    [ou] out, loud, how

    [uh] up, mother, mud

    [uh] about, animal, problem, circus

    [ur] early, bird, stirring

    One thing they don't show in this pronunciation key is whether the vowels are Long or Short.

    A long "O" would be like "BORED" or "Owe"

    A short "O" would be like "Love (said like "L-uh-v-*silent E)" or Dove (same pronunciation).

    In your question you mimic Americans saying "Can't" with a short A. The way you're possibly used to is saying "Cawnt" with a longer, shallow A."

    Even within American English there are further branches of dialects between southern, eastern, etc. Then there's even deeper branches of lower class and upper class. Even then, the upper class Americans STILL pronounce words as you have mentioned.

    Again, that makes our dialect different, not incorrect. It may sound awful or funny or just plain ridiculous, but be reminded that every vocabulary for every culture is different. It absolutely does not make it "wrong". :)

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  • 1 decade ago

    Because there are many English dialects spoken here, depending on what part of the country you are in. Just the same as your English cockney spoken in London. Why criticize the Americans, when you have different dialects spoken in different parts of the countries the world over. What gives you the right to knock the accents of various cultures and regions of America. You are forgetting that the USA is a melting pot of many different nationalities, therefore, different accents, dialects and brogues.

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  • 1 decade ago

    some people drag out their speech purposely to fit their swag. i think its you and your colony who can't pronounce the "o" sound cuz if you noticed "o" has more than one sound because vowels change depending on their neighboring consonant or vowel. for ex. owl has an ouwal sound , and you wouldnt pronounce october, o tober, where are you that you hear people say taam cruise

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