Would an American native speaker be able to hear a difference between /ʌ/ and /ɑ/ in pronunciation of "done" and "don" and recognize which one was said without a context? For me as a non-native speaker, they sound quite similar.

  • A native of where, Andrej? To a speaker of RP English the use of ɑ in either word ("darn") would sound like a dialectal variation. It would be understood though. If you said someone was a dʌn, it might not be. Apr 3 at 13:39
  • A don is a university teacher, especially a senior one at Cambridge or Oxford, and a dun is a debt-collector. Apr 3 at 13:48
  • "Bun" and "barn" are similar, but "I live in a barn" and "I live in a bun" do sound different from each other. Apr 3 at 13:54
  • @Michael Harvey: These are very old debts if the guy collecting them's a dun! Apr 3 at 14:01
  • @MichaelHarvey Yes, and when you're done with the debt collector, you were dunned.
    – Lambie
    Apr 3 at 14:59

It's unclear what variety of English you're talking about. In General American English, they use /ɑ/ in words like bot, don, hot, cot and /ʌ/ in strut, cut, done. So /dʌn/ will be understood by natives of both the UK and the US as done.

However, /dɑ(ː)n/ will be understood by most Americans as don, but by British as darn because British English uses /ɒ/ (a rounded version of /ɑ/) in most words where GenAmE uses /ɑ(ː)/.

  • 1
    So the answer is yes, they would hear a difference and recognize which vowel was said, right? Apr 4 at 1:27
  • 2
    @AndrejAdamenko: Yes. Also, s I said, it depends on the accent.
    – Void
    Apr 4 at 4:32

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.