Are they same, like, allophones? To me, they sound like same?

  • And what's your background? What dialect of English do you speak? – prash Apr 30 '14 at 22:47
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    Two different questions. It is safe to assume that no rational pronunciation alphabet uses two signs for the same sound; but not every listener makes the distinction between two sounds that the authors intend to show. Indeed, there is a case for saying that no two listeners make exactly the same distinctions of sounds, in any language. – Tim Lymington Apr 30 '14 at 22:56
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    @TimLymington While most native speakers of the British Isles have all three of /ɑ, ɒ, ɔ/ as distinct phonemes for which minimal pairs can be constructed, almost no native speakers in North America do so. In general, your phonemic /ɒ/ merges into one or the other of /ɑ/ or /ɔ/, but this varies from word to word and sometimes speaker to speaker. Increasingly many speakers, especially in the west of the continent, have further lost /ɔ/ altogether, leaving only /ɑ/ alone. This is but the barest of overview sketches: the actual situation is even more complex that I have outlined. – tchrist Apr 30 '14 at 23:12
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    Related: Looking for a minimal triple. – tchrist Apr 30 '14 at 23:13
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    Somewhat related: Why are many TV personalities beginning to pronounce “daughter” as “dotter”? This is a complex topic, and a full answer will/would be rather lengthy. The short answer is that for some speakers those are allophones of the same phoneme, but for others they are different phonemes altogether. Just for starters, read up on the father–bother merger, the lot–cloth split, and the cot–caught merger. – tchrist May 1 '14 at 13:12

For much of the U.S., if you can feel your tongue move backward but not down, so that your mouth is more closed, between saying 'a' with the meaning 'a single one' without emphasis and then starting to say 'on', then that is the difference. You may not hear it much, but many people can still feel it happening.

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I'm no specialist for phonetics which is a field of language studies which is rather complicated, but I think the difference of ɒ and ɔ is only a matter of lip rounding. In ɔ you have lip rounding and in ɒ you have none. But it may be that this is not correct.

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    No, both have rounding. – tchrist May 1 '14 at 12:48

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