Trying to teach students to read Middle English makes me acutely aware that I have a strong and "non-standard" accent as an English speaker ("Non-standard" compared to people who write pronunciation guides for Chaucer, anyway). I've "lost" a lot of vowel sounds, and since I don't say them, I'm never sure when I should be saying them in Middle English and such, if that makes sense. (Except when I say "lost" there I mean "I never had them in the first place.") And how to say them?
If I'm looking at an "a" and the book says to pronounce it like "father," but I don't say the same vowel in "father" that the writer of the book did, how do I say the vowel?
Here's an example. The Riverside gives two different ways of saying the a sound, one as in father (but fronted, what?), and one as in the German Mann. They both sound like the same vowel to me. Father, Mann (not Man in English; that's a different one for me). So how do I do the Middle English? I can't find the modern vowel, how do I find the 600 year old one?
Here's another one. There's an O that's supposed to sound like "broad" and a different O that's supposed to sound like "hot." But I don't pronounce those differently. (This is my cot/caught deficiency.)
I supposed I should be grateful that I do have pin/pen differences, or I'd have to specify a sewing pin or an ink pen at the store.