Pronouncing Don & Dawn: Is There a Difference?

Tropical Depression Four (NWS)

If Tropical Depression Four becomes a named storm, it will be called Don. And of course, that's different from Dawn. One is usually a boy's name, one a girl's. But are these two names pronounced at all differently? 

I never thought so. And then, I lived in Michigan. 

In some parts of the country, you can tell whether it's Dawn or Don by listening to people speak. The male "Don" is usually a shorter "ah" and seemingly a bit harsher (sorry, not a linguist; that what it sounds like to me). While Dawn's "ah" is stretched out a bit more and is closer to when the doctor says "open wide and say.... ahhh."

But I grew up out West, where there was simply no difference in pronunciation of the two names. But in Michigan, people thought I was pronouncing my names wrong. Seriously, I was told this more than once.

On the Gulf Coast, no one has ever bothered with how I say one name or the other. Possibly because my Southern accent doesn't extend much beyond saying "y'all" (for the record, a very handy word). But according to a map at the blog Lost States, there is a difference. I've asked a few people about it, though, and no one seems to know what I'm talking about. So if there is one, it's probably minimal. 

Just know that if/when TD4 becomes a named storm, I'm going to call it Don.... or Dawn. I'm so confused.



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