He nearly swallowed it.
(Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone)

Jim Dale’s audio
Stephen Fry’s audio

How does Jim Dale pronounce the a in swallowed: /ɒ/ or /ɑ/? Considering his nationality, it seems more likely /ɒ/. But it doesn’t sound like how Stephen Fry pronounces. I want to know which one Jim Dale pronounces and what the difference between the two is.

  • I don'tthink either of them is /ɑ/. Stephen Fry and Jim Dale are both British. (And just to confuse things further, I am American but pronounce swallow with /ɔ/ and not /ɑ/: i.e., the vowel I use in caller, and not the one I use in collar). Commented Jul 22, 2013 at 17:06

1 Answer 1


I can't actually hear any difference. To the extent that there is one, it's regional variation in pronunciation of the same phoneme (ɒ as in hot, odd, wash). But OP might wish to note comment #3 here...

In AmE, ɑ: and ɒ are one vowel, so calm and cot have the same vowel. In American transcriptions, hot is written as hɑ:t

  • 1
    Well ... the majority of the /ɒ/'s turn into /ɑ/ in the U.S., but in the Eastern half of the U.S. there are a large number that turn into /ɔ/. Commented Jul 22, 2013 at 16:57
  • 1
    @Peter: I think the first three posters here are all American. The first one says Caller, Collar, Color are exact homophones to him. The second one says *Caller, Collar are the same, but color is different. The third one says all three are different. Even though for a Brit I have a relatively restricted phoneme set, they're all different to me. Commented Jul 22, 2013 at 17:13
  • 1
    Merging collar and caller is pretty standard in American accents (most people in the Western half of the country merge cot and caught, and quite a few in the East). But color and caller surprises me. Commented Jul 22, 2013 at 20:16
  • FF, that's an interesting answer. There seems to be a USA/UK difference in pronouncing that sound.
    – Tristan
    Commented Jul 22, 2013 at 21:39
  • @Peter Shor: To be honest, I'd have been quite prepared to believe all Americans consistently pronounce Caller, Collar, Color as Carler, and cot, caught as cart. Just as we can usually discern all the relevant words on very low bit-rate voice communication channels, people seem to be quite good at overcoming (or not even noticing! :) variations in pronunciation that have no real semantic significance (unless for some reason you're particularly interested in knowing more about the speaker's geographical or social background, etc.). Commented Jul 22, 2013 at 23:51

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .