So Argotnaut gave over Frinkenstein's suggestion "hottie/haughty." This got me thinking about other minimal pairs collapsed by the low-back merger. Soon I had a large and unwieldy list, so I decided to offer some of the pairs I like the most, since I think we all agree that the name "cot/caught" must go. In my opinion none are as good as hottie/haughty, but they are still worth listing, if only to give me something amusing to post about. Here they are:
I hesitated before adding the last one, just because I fear that as a result people will get to this blog by searching for... well, something they won't find here. Speaking of strange things people reach this blog searching for, I've had three (I think) visitors who googled 'should I grow a beard' - a weird thing to google, and a weirder thing for me to be on the first page of results for, IMHO. AFAIK. ROFL? pWn3d? I'll stop now.
Speaking of caulk, I spent a summer working for the physical plant of my college in Portland, Oregon, during which time I was struck by how funny my co-workers found the word "caulk," which seemed juvenile to me, but now I realize that if I had the low-back merger like they did I would have found it funny too. Not that it isn't juvenile.
So my northwesterner wife has the lager/logger merger - that seems like an appropriate way to describe it in the Pacific Northwest - but I've found that it's only partial. I realized, for instance that she says "awesome" the way I do, not /ah/some, as I expected, even though she insists she 'can't say' "haughty" the way I do. So I asked her about this, and she says that she's 'saying the w,' which makes sense. I tried out cod/cawed on her, but it was merged, though, interestingly enough, 'caw' came out /kɔ/. Is it possible that there is a historical explanation for this? I don't know enough to guess, though usually that doesn't stop me.