cot-caught merger

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cot-caught merger (uncountable)

  1. (phonology) A phonemic merger in some varieties of English (especially American and Canadian English) in which the vowels in words such as hot and doll (/ɒ/) and in words such as law and talk (/ɔː/) are pronounced identically, making the words cot and caught homophones.
    Synonym: low back merger
    • 2011, Scott F Kiesling, Linguistic Variation and Change, page 81:
      One was /au/-monophthongisation, described earlier in Chapter 2, while the second was the so-called low-back merger (LBM), also referred to as the cot–caught merger because words in these two classes are pronounced the same and speakers cannot hear any small differences in their pronunciation, even when they are present.