Is Your Aunt an Ant?
Sometimes my clients will ask me how to pronounce a particular English word and I have no choice but to respond with the dreaded: "It depends."
It depends on the country. Or the region. Or even the city. Take a word like "Aunt", as in "My Aunt Alison is awesome." Seems simple enough, right? It's pronounced like "ant", that pesky little bugger which invades picnics.
Not so fast. "Ant" is one way to pronounce "Aunt" and a very popular one at that, at least in the United States. However, in some places "Aunt" rhymes with "want" or "font". In this case, my Aunt Alison is no longer my Ant Alison, she is my Ahnt Alison. That's the pronunciation you'll hear in England, for example, and a few parts of the U.S., including the Northeastern seaboard (think Boston) and parts of the upper Midwest (Minnesota, in particular.)
Data lovers: Check out this dialect splatter chart on the pronunciation of "aunt" across the U.S.
If you grew up in the U.S. and are a native speaker, take this quick dialect quiz and see if the way you talk matches where you're from. Even though I moved far away from the New York area decades ago and have long lost my accent (well, mostly), my results below prove it: You can take the girl out of New York, but you can't take the New York out of the girl. Her aunt will always be an ant.
Tips and tidbits about speaking English well from Karen Schiff, founder of Well Said Coaching.