@CM2DD (#29): Thanks for pointer to RP and the reference. Since I listen to news broadcasts from BBC fairly often, I thought I was familiar with RP, and though the difference in accent in some words (e.g. pass, calf, etc.) is obvious to me, I can't say I ever noticed a different pronunciation of the "close" words. But out of curiosity, I listened to an interview with Queen Elizabeth (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lh1-9ww_HmM
), and have to admit, there really is a difference from my (New York based) pronunciation of this vowel. At 3:40 into the interview, there is a good example, where she emphasizes the word "suppose". I don't think I would transcribe the vowel she uses as /əʊ/, but it is clearly more "closed" than my /ou/.
@CM2DD (#30): "do you also say baths as bars, booths as booze and seethes as sees?
" The TH in both "baths" and "booths" is unvoiced -- at least the way I say it. But looking over hm--us's list (#37), I have to say that "clothes" is the exception - in all other words I do pronounce the TH and the S. (And I also pronounce the TH in the 3rd person singular of the verb, "clothes".)
@hilfesuch (#32): "It's certainly a hard word to say, no matter if you're German or English, Scottish, Irish or American"
. Not at all! (Well, maybe my granddaughters will have difficulty with it, but adult native-English speakers don't have to make any special effort.) I really think the dropping of the TH in the noun "clothes" is a special case.