Podcast intro:

Hey, welcome to the InFluency Podcast. I’m Hadar, and this is episode number 390. Today we’re going to talk about the pronunciation of words spelled with AU and AW.

Hey everyone. Thank you so much for being here again. Today we have a quick and sweet and fun pronunciation lesson about words that cause a lot of confusion. I remember when I first started dating Gil and he started helping me with editing my videos. And every time we would talk about the audio, he would say ‘aw-dio’. And that was like my pet peeve. It’s like, “It’s not ‘aw-dio’, it’s audio”. And he’s like, “I’m going to say it how I want to say it.” He’s so cool, like, he doesn’t care at all about all my pronunciation lessons. Like he learns from it, but he doesn’t care if he mispronounces a word. And I stopped telling him how to pronounce words because I prefer to be in a happy relationship. But at the beginning, it used to drive me crazy the way he said ‘aw-dio’.

Now, it’s not a big deal and everyone would understand you if you were to say ‘aw-dio’. However, words spelled with AU are so deceiving because we’re used to seeing it thinking that it’s the long /æʊ/, like ‘now’, ‘shower’, ‘how’. But it’s not, it’s actually a representation of one sound, and that is the /ɑ/ sound.

Now, actually it has several different pronunciations. Some are a bit more open, a bit more closed, but it’s one sound, it’s not a changing sound. It’s not [æʊ]dio, it’s not [oʊ]ful, it’s not l[oʊ]. It’s audio, awful, and law. And if you have been mispronouncing it, it’s not your fault. It’s totally the spelling. But I hope that this lesson is going to help you understand that these two words, when they go together, they represent one sound, and that is the /ɑ/. And that is what we’re going to talk about today.

So, that’s it. I think you’re going to enjoy it. Just practice along. Remember that when you listen to a pronunciation lesson, it’s really important to repeat out loud. And after the lesson, just to say it to yourself a few more times so that it sticks, so that you can actually use it regularly in your day to day life. It’s not enough to just listen. Okay? So that’s something that I want you to take into consideration. And it’s especially easy when you are doing other things, and maybe you are listening to this podcast while doing other things. So, no excuses, okay? Good.

One more thing that I wanted to say. Oh, if you enjoy this episode, make sure to subscribe to the podcast, and you can also rate and review the podcast. Whether you’re listening to this on Spotify or Apple Podcasts or Google Podcasts, there is a way to rate the podcast and even leave a review. It’s only going to take a couple of minutes, but it’s going to make a huge difference. So, I’m going to really, really, really appreciate it. All right, let’s go ahead and listen to today’s episode.

Video transcript:

This is not ‘aw-dio’ and this is not ‘ow-some’, but both vowel letters actually represent one vowel sound, and that is /ɑ/.

Hey everyone, it’s Hadar. Thank you so much for joining me. Today, we are going to talk about how to pronounce words that have the AU or AW letters in the spelling.

As you know, English is not a phonetic language. And when you see those two letters, it doesn’t necessarily represent the sound /æʊ/. So this is not ‘aw-dio’. And this is not ‘ow-some’, but both vowel letters actually represent one vowel sound, and that is /ɑ/.

Now, first let’s talk about the pronunciation of this sound. This sound is an open back vowel sound. To make this sound, you want to drop your jaw, ah, relax your lips, ah, and it actually sounds very similar to the /ɑ/ as in ‘father’. Author. Author. Now, this is one pronunciation of the sound. But in some dialects, especially on the East Coast in the US, you will notice that this sound is a bit more rounded. So, instead of /ˈɑ.θəɹ/, you will hear /ˈɔ.θəɹ/. So the lips are a bit more rounded. /ˈɔ.θəɹ/.

Whether you choose to pronounce it as /ɑ/: author, daughter, or /ɔ/: author, daughter, it doesn’t matter. Choose whatever is easier for you, as long as you make it the same sound and there isn’t a shift there from one sound to another. A shift that you might be making because you see two vowel letters, and you might want to pronounce each of them differently. So, not /’oʊ.θəɹ/ or /loʊ/, but /ˈɑ.θəɹ/ and /lɑ:/.

So you want to drop your jaw. The back of the tongue is raised a little bit, the lips are slightly rounded. /ˈɔ.θəɹ/. You can also pronounce it as a more neutral sound, like the ‘ah’ in ‘father’. /ˈɑ.θəɹ/. Choose whatever is easier for you, just keep it one sound. /ɑ/: author, daughter. Not ‘dow-ter’, there isn’t a shift here. ‘ow’ – ‘ah’.

Daughter. Daughter. Audience. Audience. Authentic. Authentic. Caught. Drop your jaw, keep the sound consistent. Caught. Caught. Not ‘cowt’, this is coat. Caught. And taught.

Same thing with the AW spelling. Here, it’s even more confusing because the W feels like you should be pronouncing an ‘uw’ sound, like you would for the word ‘why’ and ‘we’. But actually there is no ‘w’ sound, it just represents the exact same sound. Law /lɔ/, not ‘low’, /lɔ/. /ɔ/: awful. And like I said, you can even relax your lips and pronounce it more like an open /ɑ/ sound: awful, law.

If you can’t hear the difference, don’t worry about it. Both of them are very, very similar. Like I said, just open your mouth and make the sound a little longer. Awful. Awesome. That is so awesome. Paw. Jaw. And raw. Raw food, not ‘row’, raw.

All right, that’s it. Now I have a task for you. Take one of the words mentioned in the video, say it out loud 30 times with the correct pronunciation, and then come up with 3-4 sentences with this word and say it out loud. That is the best way to practice a new word and to practice a new pronunciation of a word that you know and that you’ve been using, but maybe you have been pronouncing it a little differently. That’s the way to change it. Okay? So let me know how you’re doing in the chat.

And if you want more resources and more exercises to practice your pronunciation so you can speak English with clarity, confidence, and freedom, check out my website at hadarshemesh.com for a ton of resources for you. Have a beautiful, beautiful rest of the day, and I will see you next week in the next video. Bye.