How do you pronounce 'fault'?

Do you say [fo:lt], [folt] or the American way [fa:lt]? I pronounce it as [fo:lt], but have a sneaky suspicion that this is becoming old-fashioned – at least, I seem to hear [folt] more and more these days. Is it only my impression?

In standard American it is not [fa:lt]. That’s for people in places like Minnesota or parts of California, where they strangely pronounce the word “dog” as [dag] and have no distinction between the words “cot” and “caught”. The standard way to pronounce “fault” in the US is with the mid back lax rounded vowel that in linguistics school we referred to as “backwards C”. So it’s neither [o:], [o] nor [a:]. This program won’t let me post the right IPA character, but it’s the same vowel that’s in the standard pronunciations of “dog” and “caught”.

By the way, I know quite many British people who pronounce ‘natural’ as ‘nAtural’, for example. Quite clear to my ears.

Not to mention that the vast majority of people I know around pronounce ‘associated’ as ‘assoSiated’ (which surprised me a lot).

I think it’s weird when some British people pronounce “Asia” as [ejzija]. To us they sound like children who are just reading the letters one by one and haven’t learned the word yet.

It’s the ‘a’ in ‘hard’, not the one in ‘hat’, I was referring to. As you well know, we can’t reproduce this phonetic symbol here (isn’t it a pain?).

:o I’ve never heard it pronounced like that (and I’ve heard it often enough)!
It’s either ‘eish9’ or ‘eizh9’.

I know which one you’re talking about. The standard American pronunciation of “fault” does not have the same vowel as the word “hard”. It has a mid back lax rounded vowel.

Another word that is sometimes given a phonetic transcription different to the one I normally hear and use is ‘sexual’ – I’ve never heard anyone say ‘seksju9l’, as you can read in some dictionaries, but rather ‘sekshu9l’.

the way I pronounce it now: “fahlt”

the way I used to pronounce it, when living way up north: “faaahlt”


And how do you pronounce ‘hard’?

the northern vowels are very Scandinavian/German in pronunciation – none of this rounded-vowel crap (California).

Latin vowels are also true to my Northern sensibilities (northern Midwest, that is):

the Spanish “e” is my “a”, only i put a bit more of a diphthong on it.

their “u” is the vowel sound when I say “you”

their “o” – straight and hard – is identical to my “o”.