Lager vs. Logger
November 24, 2016 6:22 AM   Subscribe

Generally, what parts of the US pronounce the words "lager" and "logger" differently? Generally, what parts pronounce them the same way? What parts of the US are you as likely to hear differentiation as not?

The way I read the two words in my head are as close as can be without being homophones. There is a very slight difference in the first syllable. Is there a good and easy way to test my own actual spoken pronunciation?
posted by clorox to Writing & Language (25 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Pretty sure this is an example of the cot - caught merger (sorry no link, on mobile).

As a data point, I am from the upper midwest and those words sound totally different.
posted by goodbyewaffles at 6:31 AM on November 24, 2016 [6 favorites]

I'm actually not sure this is the same thing. I don't have the cot/caught merger generally, but I do pronounce "lager" and "logger" the same. (It is possible that I am an oddball, though. My low vowels are kind of a mess in general, since I grew up with a strong Michigan accent and then learned in school to suppress it, so I'm never sure what's my dialect and what's just me being weird.)
posted by nebulawindphone at 6:42 AM on November 24, 2016

I had never heard of the cot-caught merger, but I am not on mobile so I will link for goodbyewaffles.

And, though I know it's only anecdata, I live and grew up in southeastern US with both parents and parents' parents from southeastern US, and we all pronounce those two words differently. "Lager" is close , but not identical, to "lamp" and "logger" is closer to "law". It's not just the pronunciation, my voice goes down in pitch for logger, and up in pitch for lager.
posted by FirstMateKate at 6:45 AM on November 24, 2016

Pretty sure this is an example of the cot - caught merger

I'd pronounce "cot" and "caught" differently, but "logger" and "lager" the same. I grew up in Madison, Wisconsin, but now live in NYC, and my parents are from NYC or nearby.
posted by John Cohen at 6:50 AM on November 24, 2016

Agree that this is an example of the cot/caught merger, though as nebula points out, there may be idiosyncrasies.

As a data point, I grew up in northern CA, I have the cot/caught merger, and I pronounce "lager" and "logger" the same.
posted by mekily at 6:52 AM on November 24, 2016

Illinois. I pronounce both sets differently.
posted by Kalmya at 6:58 AM on November 24, 2016 [1 favorite]

Grew up in NYC, now in the Great Lakes region. Logger = law-gur; lager = lah-gur.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 7:09 AM on November 24, 2016 [5 favorites]

Midwest; Logger/lager are very close but lager's vowel is slightly more open. When I pronounce logger my jaw drops. When I pronounce lager my jaw doesn't drop at all.

What chesty_a_arthur said.
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 7:16 AM on November 24, 2016 [2 favorites]

I live in the northwest and I've never heard those words pronounced differently from each other. To my ear they are exact homophones.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:40 AM on November 24, 2016 [2 favorites]

chesty_a_arthur's distinction works for me too.
posted by LionIndex at 7:43 AM on November 24, 2016

I'm from North Carolina and live in Georgia, with a parent from each of those states. Logger is "lawger" (same sound as caught) and lager is "lahger" (same sound as cot).
posted by hydropsyche at 8:01 AM on November 24, 2016 [2 favorites]

From central VA and chesty_a_arthur hits it on the head for me: with logger, I tend to sound like I'm saying the word 'law' first, vs. 'la-la-la' for lager.
posted by kuanes at 8:20 AM on November 24, 2016

(Canadian but..) I have the cot/caught merger but I think I pronounce lager and logger differently. It actually reminds me of the writer/rider divide, which for Americans are often indistinguishable. I make the latter i a little longer so they sound different. In the lager/logger case it's the logger that gets a longer o. A related Stackexchange link. Wikipedia link for Canada Raising
posted by hydrobatidae at 8:21 AM on November 24, 2016 [1 favorite]

Milwaukee. Cot and lager have the same sound (ah). Caught and logger have the same sound (aw).
posted by AFABulous at 9:05 AM on November 24, 2016

I'm from southwestern VA and have the same thing as chester_a_arthur, hydropsyche and kuanes, but I worked very hard to make my US accent nondescript. I'm not sure how my family still in SWVA would pronounce those words.

Fun fact: my buddy from Yorkshire does not make a distinction between lager and logger, which caused a little fun consternation on our parts when we did a pub trivia night in Yorkshire and named our team the Jet-Lagers--he wrote Jet-Loggers. And he is a guy who knows lagers.
posted by infinitewindow at 9:27 AM on November 24, 2016

Philly - they're exactly the same. But so are Mary/marry/merry, don't go by me.
posted by fixedgear at 9:47 AM on November 24, 2016

Infinitewindow, that might just have been him having trouble with your accents - I'm from Yorkshire and pronounce those two words completely differently. You might mistake lager for "man who puts insulation round your hot water tank" (lagger), but the short "o" in logger sounds completely different.
posted by tinkletown at 9:50 AM on November 24, 2016

I grew up in California and the two words sound the same when I say them.
posted by heatherlogan at 10:36 AM on November 24, 2016

From Rhode Island, so no cot/caught merger (in contrast to the Boston accent!) - yet I pronounce logger and lager the same way.
posted by Seeking Direction at 10:40 AM on November 24, 2016

I tend to sound like I'm saying the word 'law' first, vs. 'la-la-la' for lager.

...which sound exactly the same to me. I mean, they sound different in my head when I read them, but I don't hear any difference when I say them or hear one vs. the other when other people say them without context. (CA childhood, now PNW)
posted by ctmf at 12:20 PM on November 24, 2016 [1 favorite]

I grew up in Michigan, went to college in Chicago, spent a year in Cambridge (UK), came back to Chicago, then moved to Massachusetts. Those words are nowhere near homophones for me. I'm with those who pronounce "logger" like "law" and lager like "lah," even before I learned German.
posted by brianogilvie at 12:44 PM on November 24, 2016

Both sets are different. Grew up in SE NC, then east TX for 2 years, then west NC for many years, with a several years in CA/AZ in there. "law"ger and "lah"ger; "caht" and "caw"t
posted by MovableBookLady at 3:53 PM on November 24, 2016

PNW here. Along with the other west-coasters, I've got to agree that law, lah, and la are all pronounced exactly the same, as are lager and logger. It does seem to be the cot-caught merger, with /ɔ/ getting turned into /ɑ/. The one word I seem to retain the /ɔ/ for is caw.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 4:08 PM on November 24, 2016 [1 favorite]

my mom's boyfriend, a sometime linguist, believes it to be an example of the cot-caught merger, fwiw (thanks, thanksgiving)
posted by goodbyewaffles at 7:55 PM on November 24, 2016

Southern CO native, CA twenties, mid-Atlantic since then. Caught/cot and logger/lager only sound distinct to me when other people say them; I pronounce them as homophones. Don't even get me started on "roof" and "route."
posted by aspersioncast at 10:55 PM on November 25, 2016

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