Today on Jeopardy there was a category on homophones, words that sound alike, but have different meanings.
Here’s the clue that threw me:
a homophone that can mean either a high-ranking member of a Mafia family, or the rising of the sun.
No wonder I missed that one. In the dialect of standard English that I speak, the words don and dawn are NOT homophones.
Merriam-Webster gives the pronunciation of the o in don as short o, as in on, con, lot, pod, and John.
The popular dictionary.com gives the “aw” pronunciation heard in thought, Maud, fall, straw, and yes, dawn.
I have no quarrel with regional speakers who make Dawn rhyme with Don, but I do object when a quiz show that draws contestants from all regions makes a nonstandard pronunciation part of a clue.