Interesting. Till a while ago I used to pronounce the word as your husband does, based on a false extension of what I had read years ago- that Americans mostly prefer /ɑ:/ to /ɔ/. It was just after doing a bit of deliberation on the fact that all the occasions that I'd heard the word pronounced by native speakers, I'd heard it as 'wore', then I decided to choose what I thought to be the common variation! Now that you say it, and I check my pronunciation dictionary (which doesn't show the car-like pronunciation as a variation), I'm pretty sure that you, Americans, don't have such a preference in cases where the word is one-syllable and it ends, phonetically, with 'r'. As in for, fore, gore, door.
I know that my rule isn't comprehensive since there are words such as 'before', 'temblor'.
K the G, that pronunciation of "war" is a common dialect pronunciation. Don't put too much faith in the pronunciations in dictionaries. They're not exhaustive. They list only the most common. If they leave a pronunciation out, it doesn't mean that pronunciation is a bad one. I say this as a dictionary editor myself! For example, dictionaries often do not take into account even the widespread Southern American dialects, which are spoken by many millions of people.
This is an incredible revelation to me. I have considered myself pretty knowledgeable about words but I have never considered that the preferred pronunciation does not sound the "r". I must not have been listening to hundreds of people who say it that way. It's not that I haven't heard it but I always considered that to be the dialect rather than the way I say it.
This link has audio for both pronunciations
After listening to every audio pronunciation that Google could find, it looks like it is almost evenly divided but I am convinced now that I speak the dialect and I never even suspected it.
That site will give 2 pronunciations (no r, with r) whether you key in car or war.
To me the no r sounds like British, the with r American.
K the G, the car you are talking about, is it about the r or anything else? What is your normal sound of car exactly?
Before this thread, it would never have occurred to me that a native speaker of English would pronounce war to rhyme with car. That must be why the line in Three Dog Night's "Joy to the World" (I'd throw away the cars and the bars and the wars) sounded a little off to me, like Hoyt Axton didn't bother trying to say it out loud when he was writing it.
It's like insisting that comb, tomb and bomb should all rhyme because of the similar spelling.
Does hubby actually confirm that the vowels are the same in these two words? Might he be making a subtle distinction that is lost to most of us?
I have often seen it happen, mostly with folks learning a second language, where one speaker is making a sound distinction, but the differences are unfamiliar to the hearer, and go unnoticed. (aspiration, consonant voicing, palatalization, for examples). I have, on occasion, seen the same phenomenon occur between regional versions of American English. Think Texas: oil, all, awl.
Talk about Baader Meinhof! I watched episode #3 of Oliver Stone's Untold History on Showtime, and there was Harry Truman pronouncing "war" just like a pirate saying "aargh." Then, they showed a clip of Gary Sinise starring as Truman in a miniseries some time ago. Sinise captured the "aargh" sound exactly, so it must have been a Missouri thing also. I remember Truman, but I was too young to really remember what he sounded like.
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