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any broth in brothel?
September 26, 2008 1:37 PM   Subscribe

Is there any native speaker of English reading this for whom "broth" is pronounced the same in the words broth and brothel ? No joke. They aren't the same in my dialect, but maybe in yours?
posted by cogneuro to Grab Bag (82 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
What is it in your dialect? I've always heard broth pronounced the same way in both words.
posted by josher71 at 1:42 PM on September 26, 2008


I'm originally from SW Ohio and am now in NW and I pronounce it that way. How else would you pronounce brothel?
posted by cimbrog at 1:42 PM on September 26, 2008


They are in mine. West Coast, Canada for what it is worth.
posted by beautifulcheese at 1:43 PM on September 26, 2008


They are the same in both words for me. UK english, north london-ish accent. I can't imagine how they could sound different
posted by Joh at 1:43 PM on September 26, 2008


I have heard people say "bruh-thel" but here in the Northeastern US, "brah-thel" is more usual.
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:44 PM on September 26, 2008


NYC, and close: broth = "brawth", probably. brothel = "brah-thel". Sorry, no IPA here.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 1:44 PM on September 26, 2008


They're the same in mine. And the OED gives the pronunciation as brɒθ for both (that's an open back rounded vowel followed by a voiceless dental frictive).
posted by mr_roboto at 1:45 PM on September 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


Pronounced the same for me. I am in California.

Which do you pronounce with a long 'o' (that is my assumption on how things are pronounced differently for you)?
posted by Wreath Ass at 1:46 PM on September 26, 2008


I've heard the "th" in broth as unvoiced and in brothel as voiced (but no other difference,) but I'm not sure I've heard the word "brothel" used often enough to make any sort of guess as to whether or not it's a dialect thing.
posted by restless_nomad at 1:48 PM on September 26, 2008


Same for me in New Zealand.
posted by tracicle at 1:48 PM on September 26, 2008


Exactly the same... Upper Midwest USA
posted by Bunglegirl at 1:48 PM on September 26, 2008


Very similar if not the same for me, too, in the PNW US.
posted by hattifattener at 1:48 PM on September 26, 2008


Different for me, New York accent.

Brawth

Brahthel


I think most Americans would say Brahth and Brahthel, while most Britons would have the vowel sound the same but a bit intermediate between aw and ah. *

* I also think most Americans pronounce what is written as aw more like ah which adds to the confusion. Took me a while to figure out why people wrote hot as hawt. Hawt for me is pronounced as if it were spelled hort. Not really a homophone or even a near-homophone to hot.

So cogneuro, are you from New Yawk by any chance?
posted by xetere at 1:49 PM on September 26, 2008


I imagine many people who have the caught/cot merging pronounce broth/brothel as you describe.
posted by knile at 1:49 PM on September 26, 2008


brothel is just broth-el to me. pronounce the 'broth' part the same. like, brahth.
posted by KateHasQuestions at 1:51 PM on September 26, 2008


Rhode Island native here. They're the same to me. Broth. Broth-uhl. I dont' think I've ever heard anyone pronounce either word in a way that stuck out to me.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 1:52 PM on September 26, 2008


I've never heard them pronounced in significantly different ways, except by one friend with whom played D&D who mispronounced "brothel" to rhyme with "brother." But we were twelve and he'd probably only ever read the word-- never heard it. What is your dialect and how do YOU pronounce the words?

Oh, and I grew up (mostly) in southern Connecticut.
posted by dersins at 1:52 PM on September 26, 2008


As evidence that most people in the US pronounce this the same way is the trailer for the movie The House Bunny. At 0:40, a woman tells Anna Faris that "This is not a brothel", and she replies, "Oh, I'm not looking to make soup." (indicating that she does know the word broth and that it sounds the same).
posted by bove at 1:57 PM on September 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


Same for me, but I think I've heard "broe-thel" before.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:57 PM on September 26, 2008


They're the same to me - my accent history is complicated but I tend to evaluate as Northeast US/slight Midwest with other influences. /brɔθ/, /brɔθɘl/, using IPA notation for clarity.
posted by bettafish at 1:58 PM on September 26, 2008


I live on the West Coast of Canada. The "broth" part is said the same. but there's a bit of a "zzzz" type effect in going from broth to brothel, depending on the speaker. I don't know how to explain it. Maybe a bit like the "th" in brother. I'm not a linguist.
posted by acoutu at 1:59 PM on September 26, 2008


"I imagine many people who have the caught/cot merging pronounce broth/brothel as you describe."

I have that merger and I do pronounce them the same. (Seattle, Pacific Northwest). cogneuro, how do you say them?
posted by litlnemo at 2:04 PM on September 26, 2008


ok, I have pronounced and heard pronounced "brothel" in two different ways - with "soft 'th'" and a "hard 'th'"

like acoutu said, I've heard brothel pronounced with the "th" that you hear in "brother","either", "there". and "the" as well as the "th" you hear in "broth","thought","therapy", etc.

I have also heard two different pronunciations for "ether".
posted by baxter_ilion at 2:08 PM on September 26, 2008


Exactly the same for me, in UK.

Brawth
Brawthel
posted by fire&wings at 2:08 PM on September 26, 2008


In the Upper Midwest - I pronounce the o the same way (as an 'aw') but I do have the unvoiced/voiced th difference.
posted by punchdrunkhistory at 2:09 PM on September 26, 2008


NYC, and close: broth = "brawth", probably. brothel = "brah-thel". Sorry, no IPA here.

Yes, same for me from NJ. Clearly different vowel sound.
posted by smackfu at 2:11 PM on September 26, 2008


When you post a post like this, it might help to identify where you live or otherwise where your dialect is based.

I roughly calculate 80% who voice the same syllable.
posted by yclipse at 2:17 PM on September 26, 2008


NYC, and close: broth = "brawth", probably. brothel = "brah-thel". Sorry, no IPA here.
Me, too, from the Philly suburbs.
posted by Airhen at 2:18 PM on September 26, 2008


I'm from Boston, and they're the same. where are you from and how are they different?
posted by moxiedoll at 2:20 PM on September 26, 2008


Same in mine, midwestern U.S. raised.
posted by k8t at 2:22 PM on September 26, 2008


ditto. from the 'deep' South (US). maybe memail languagehat? I've lived and taught in a number of places and never heard different in any English dialect..
posted by dawson at 2:24 PM on September 26, 2008


Same for me, East Midlands UK accent - 'broth' sounds like 'moth' in both cases.
posted by essexjan at 2:30 PM on September 26, 2008


South of Boston, and they are the same.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 2:32 PM on September 26, 2008


They're the same for me. Midwestern accent--the "generic American" one.
posted by EarBucket at 2:35 PM on September 26, 2008


same for me, too...jersey accent.
posted by asras at 2:36 PM on September 26, 2008


In Texas they're the same. Brahth. Brahthel.
posted by Nattie at 2:36 PM on September 26, 2008


Pronounced the same for me. Raised in rural east TN, living in NYC. I hear them pronounced (as others have already made clear) the same here too.
posted by kimdog at 2:38 PM on September 26, 2008


I can tell a difference in the way I say it and can tell by my tongue. For the 'th' in broth my tongue ends up sticking a little bit beyond my teeth like I could bite it off. for brothel it taps against the back of my teeth.

Grew up in south western Virginia, lived across midwest, southwest, and in california now for about 11 years.
posted by zengargoyle at 2:48 PM on September 26, 2008


Same in Australia! I have never heard an alternate pronunciation.
posted by tomble at 2:48 PM on September 26, 2008


They're the same in British English as spoken in South-East England (possibly excluding some of the more heavily accented areas of London), South Wales and North Yorkshire accents. Probably more, but those are the only ones I'm certain of.

I've never heard them pronounced differently, and am now really curious how you pronounce them!
posted by metaBugs at 2:50 PM on September 26, 2008


Same in NYC.
posted by kenzi23 at 2:53 PM on September 26, 2008


Grew up mostly in New England, now live in California; I pronounce them the same way, and have never heard an alternate pronounciation.

(I do pronounce caught/cot slightly differently from one another.)
posted by rtha at 2:53 PM on September 26, 2008


Born and bred in London - they're the same for me, and I've never heard otherwise.
posted by Magnakai at 2:55 PM on September 26, 2008


Upstate NY and I pronounce them differently. Brawth and Braathel.
posted by stefnet at 2:55 PM on September 26, 2008


The vowel sound is the same here in the upper Midwest. There is a very slight difference in the way the the 'th' sound is made, but that's due to the difference between mid-word and end-of-word pronunciations.
posted by jlkr at 2:59 PM on September 26, 2008


In the American Heritage Dictionary, broth has two pronunciations, and brothel also has two. For each word, the o sounds like pot for one pronunciation, and like caught, paw, for, horrid, hoarse for the other one. So, do these pronunciations account for the difference you hear? And where are you? (Enquiring minds want to know!)
posted by exphysicist345 at 2:59 PM on September 26, 2008


Same in mine. I'm from and live in Central Texas.
posted by fructose at 3:04 PM on September 26, 2008


Oregon, USA. The broth in brothel has a thicker th sound (edging towards a z?) for me (I can feel it vibrating in my throat in brothel, and not for broth).
posted by devilsbrigade at 3:16 PM on September 26, 2008


Sound the same for me, Australian with a twinge of Brit after living in London for 5 years. Moth, sloth, wrath, broth, brothel have the same o sound.
posted by goo at 3:20 PM on September 26, 2008


Same for me (South/West Wales). And Wales is the home of a good broth :-)

Aside: has anyone noticed how (some) Brits are now pronouncing the word auction as if it was spelt occshun?
posted by ceri richard at 3:30 PM on September 26, 2008


Born and raised in Minnesota, and those sounds are identical.
posted by baphomet at 3:33 PM on September 26, 2008


"In the American Heritage Dictionary, broth has two pronunciations, and brothel also has two. For each word, the o sounds like pot for one pronunciation, and like caught, paw, for, horrid, hoarse for the other one."

This makes me laugh, because in my speech, pot, caught, and paw all have the same vowel sound. For, horrid and hoarse all have the same sound as each other, but very different from the one in pot, caught, and paw.

The cot/caught merger at work!
posted by litlnemo at 3:34 PM on September 26, 2008


How do you say it differently, OP? Do you say a more covered "o" in one than the other? Or do you pronounce it "bruh-thel" (like "brother" with an "l" instead of an "r" at the end)?
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:34 PM on September 26, 2008


Boston here, and they're the same.
posted by tenderman kingsaver at 3:41 PM on September 26, 2008


I'm from Kansas City, and pronounce them the same.
posted by bingo at 3:55 PM on September 26, 2008


Ireland, both identical.
posted by carbide at 3:58 PM on September 26, 2008


Exactly the same for me. God knows what my accent is, though - "North West RP", I suppose (draw a line from Hugh Grant to Holly Johnson, and I'm a third of the way along!)
posted by jack_mo at 4:00 PM on September 26, 2008


Rhode island raised, living in boston now. I would say them differently. I say brawth (rhymes with the auth in authorization) and brahthel (the brah part rhymes with say "ahhhhhh").
posted by mrgoldenbrown at 4:33 PM on September 26, 2008


Same for both here (Australia).
posted by ninazer0 at 4:41 PM on September 26, 2008


Sound identical to me in Southwestern Ontario.
posted by bonobothegreat at 4:52 PM on September 26, 2008


Chicago, the same. Broth might have a TINY bit more of the "aw" sound (like the caught/cot example, but not quite as different).
posted by iguanapolitico at 4:57 PM on September 26, 2008


"In the American Heritage Dictionary, broth has two pronunciations, and brothel also has two. For each word, the o sounds like pot for one pronunciation, and like caught, paw, for, horrid, hoarse for the other one."

This makes me laugh, because in my speech, pot, caught, and paw all have the same vowel sound. For, horrid and hoarse all have the same sound as each other, but very different from the one in pot, caught, and paw.

The cot/caught merger at work!
Ha me too because pot and horrid have the same 'o' sound whereas caught, paw, for, and hoarse have the same vowel sound. Keep cot and caught separate the way God meant to we New Yawkers say!

BTW I am surprised how many people say that it sounds the same in New York, are you talking about native New Yorkers who *sound* like New Yorkers? Meaning the accent not the place.

(New York accent has been so demonized that nobody speaks it anymore in Manhattan or so-called hip parts of Brooklyn. When the revolution comes we'll change that!)
posted by xetere at 5:19 PM on September 26, 2008


Sounds the same in Ontario, Canada. I don't recall ever hearing an accent where they didn't sound the same.
posted by winston at 5:38 PM on September 26, 2008


Grew up in Ohio. For me, they have the same vowel sound but the "th" is different - soft and unvoiced in broth, voiced for brothel.
posted by metahawk at 5:44 PM on September 26, 2008


I've lived different places. Not a New Yorker.

the vowel in broth is the one in caught, ought. backwards c in IPA

the vowel in brothel is the same as in hot. lowercase a in IPA


I am surprised at how many people pronounce them the same.
posted by cogneuro at 5:48 PM on September 26, 2008


My Western NC accent says broth and brothel the same, but I think with more of an -aw than an -ah like it seems like most people are saying--the same sound I say in caught and paw.

For reference, I say cot, hot, and horrid with more of the -ah, and for and hoarse with a completely different sound from cot or caught.
posted by hydropsyche at 5:50 PM on September 26, 2008


"Hot" and "broth" have the same vowel for me.
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:51 PM on September 26, 2008


Broth, brothel, and–curiously enough–Bothell all have the same 'ahth' sound to my ear.
posted by willpie at 6:58 PM on September 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


Same for me in Minnesota.
posted by flod logic at 7:04 PM on September 26, 2008


Same in Virginia.
posted by Atreides at 7:21 PM on September 26, 2008


They're the same for me, from Edinburgh, Scotland. A short 'o' like hot.
posted by pocketfluff at 7:41 PM on September 26, 2008


Same in Australia.
posted by flabdablet at 8:04 PM on September 26, 2008


Well, I pronounce caught and hot as rhyming words, too, near as I can tell (though actively thinking about these things always forces the pronunciation, so it's never quite clear that it's my natural pronunciation) so I guess it's not that surprising that brothel and broth sound the same to me. There might be a hint of a difference in there, but I think it's more a result of preparing for the second syllable than a change in the vowel pronunciation.
posted by jacquilynne at 9:11 PM on September 26, 2008


India, but I've been speaking English all my life, FWIW. They're pronounced the same way over here as well.
posted by Tamanna at 9:55 PM on September 26, 2008


Canadian west coast accent here. I pronounce the "broth" in both words the same way.

/brɒθ/ and /brɒ θɘl/, to be specific. It seems that the /ɒ/ vowel sound is closer to, but not exactly the same as, the British "aw" than the westcoast/midwestern American "ah".
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 11:11 PM on September 26, 2008


"Brawth" and "brah-thel" (both soft "th" sounds). Born and bred in NE Ohio. (To me, broth and caught share a vowel sound, as do cot and brothel.)
posted by ubersturm at 12:42 AM on September 27, 2008


To me (UK, accent varies between London, midlands and yorkshire depending on mood) broth and brothel both sound like moth.

The only other pronounciation I can imagine is a Norfolk farmer pronouncing it "brah-thel". Although local rivalries insist I imply a Norfolk farmer would actually refer to it as his sister's bedroom...
posted by twine42 at 2:51 AM on September 27, 2008


I have a friend from the midwest who would also pronounce moth, broth, and brothel with the same vowel, but a very different vowel from Twine42. Accents make this kind of thing very difficult.

To me, all three are different, and on a spectrum, with "moth" at one end, "brothel" on the other, and "broth" in the middle.
posted by Nothing at 6:37 AM on September 27, 2008


Different here. East Coast (mostly CT/MD).

Chicken Brawth, Cheap Brahthel


While we're at it:

Pot = hot, cot, rot
Caught + Paw = same, as in Bought, Taught, Fought, Law, Raw, Saw, etc.
Horrid = Horse, Course, Force, Hoarse

Oh yeah, and:

Kerry does not equal Carrie
Kerry = "Red," Cherry, Merry, Ferry
Carrie = "Air," Carry, Marry, Fairy, Scary, Wary

And:
Caramel = Cair-amel (not Automobile-amel)

Orange = Bore, Snore, NOT Car, Far


I'm amazed at how many people here are so wrong

(heehee)
posted by Alabaster at 9:30 AM on September 27, 2008


Same. Australia.
posted by mu~ha~ha~ha~har at 4:55 PM on September 27, 2008


Odd. Most people here seem to be focussing on the first vowel sound.

I've heard different pronunciations of the two words many times, although I (western Canada accent, language teacher) pronounce them basically the same.

The difference is between (as someone mentioned upthread) an unvoiced 'th' and a slightly voiced one. For those not familiar with the concept of voicing, 'th' in 'think' is unvoiced and 'th' in 'this' is voiced.

I've never heard any significant variation in the inital vowel sound.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:21 PM on September 28, 2008


I didn't mention the "th" voicing because I assumed he was talking about the vowel sound.
posted by litlnemo at 12:14 AM on September 29, 2008


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