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Short 'o' vs long 'o': [ɒ] vs [əʊ]
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Short 'o' vs long 'o': [ɒ] vs [əʊ]

LEVEL 3, 2, 4, 5 |

Mind the 'O's! 
Non-native speakers tend to mispronounce 'o's. 
This podcast will show you the difference between the short 'o' sound, [ɒ], and the long 'o' sound, [əʊ]

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Short 'o' vs long 'o': [ɒ] vs [əʊ]

– Who's that? His face seems familiar.

– That's my boss Todd, he used to work here. Actually he got promoted and I came here to replace him, so you might have seen him in the elevator.

– Your boss Toad? Like Toad the frog? What kind of parent would do that to a kid?

– What?! Toad?! Hahaha. Not toad, Todd, you smarty pants. As much as I may not like my boss, I still wouldn't call him a toad. I guess we're up for a new phonethics lesson.

– Because of your boss, the toad?

– You can put it that way. So,  Todd vs toad and sound [ɒ] vs sound [əʊ].

– You're not going to teach me how to pronounce 'O', are you?

– I guess I am. There are actually couple of ways letter ‘O' might sound. We are going to talk about a short and a long sound today. If you look through the phonethics coursebooks, you'll see that letter 'O' is taught like short 'o', [ɒ]. In order to produce this sound you keep your lips rounded but relaxed. The jaw is held back and the tongue is held low, touching the inside of the bottom teeth. Like in Todd – a male's name.

– [ɒ] – Todd.

– At the same time long [əʊ] is made up of two sounds and ends with a brief w sound. In order to produce it first: you round your lips and push your tongue back so that it can feel the bottom teeth and second: you raise the jaw slightly and close your lips into a smaller circle in order to produce the w-sound at the end. The tongue moves up. [əʊ] – toad.

– [əʊ] – toad.

Todd toad.

Todd toad. Toddtoad. It seems so obvious now when you explained it all.

– Right? Ok, let me think about some other examples.

– Oh, damn cop! I just parked here for 10 minutes! Have already been fined!

– What did you say?

– I said I just parked here for 10 minutes and the cop has already fined me!

Cop. That's right. The cop needs to cope with the road, which includes your car parked in a wrong place. But he also gives us an excellent example. The cop (meaning a police officer, short [ɒ]) needs to cope (meaning handle, long [əʊ]) with the road (by the way, long [əʊ] as well).

– The cop needs to cope with drunk drivers.

– Andrij, you're being unfair, he's just doing his job, that's it. Not asking for any kind of bribes or anything. You broke the rules, you need to pay for it.

– You're right, totally my fault. Let's get back to our Os. Any other examples?

I've got a goat.

– What do you need the goat for?

– Andrij! Seriously? It's an example you asked for. I've got (means I have, short [ɒ]), a goat (a domestic animal with two sharp horns that gives milk, long [əʊ]).

– Haha, I pictured a goat in your apartment! Haha, funny! You've got a goat. You've got a goat.

– Andy!

– Not laughing any more, not laughing, just practicing. Hey, you never called me Andy before! Sounds weird.

– You don't like it?

– It's not that I don't like it, it's just weird. I hop you won't get used to calling me that.

– I won't call you that if you hop (jump, short [ɒ]) like a rabbit all the way till the exit from the parking lot. Because rabbits hop, people usually hope (believe in something that is likely to happen in the future, long [əʊ]). Unless you don't want me to call you Andy that is.

– I hope you won't seriously make me hop, my knee hurts.

– That's rubbish (bull)! Go ahead, Andy. I mean it, Andy. The sooner you start, Andy...

– Ok, I'm hopping, hopping.

– One, two, three....

– I hope that's the last time I'll have to do this. Ever!

Vocabulary list:

  • botboat
  • codcode
  • copcope
  • cotcoat
  • dotdote
  • gotgoat
  • hophope
  • jockjoke
  • JonJoan
  • loblobe
  • mopmope
  • nodnode
  • oddode
  • pockpoke
  • poppope
  • rodroad, rode
  • rotrote
  • socksoak
  • sopsoap
  • Toddtoad