Is there a difference in the pronunciation of General American 'back' and RP 'back'?

For example as in: I came back Wednesday.

The reason for asking is because my pronouncing dictionary gives the /æ/ intermediate vowel
for both General American and Received Pronunciation in words like 'back', 'slack','bad', 'attack', etc.
But when I listen carefully to how Americans pronounce it, I'd swear it sounds more like /e/.

Is that true? Or is something else the case?

Thank you in advance!


No, I guess I usually hear it as /æ/. If you are hearing anything else, you could post a Youtube video or an audio clip.
Anyway, I noticed that you mentioned the word "can" in the title. In that case, before /n/, /m/, /ŋ/, it's often not /æ/ in American English, but a diphthong similar to /eə/ or /ɛə/.

Alright, I tried to look for something relevant on youtube, I found this, and I'm gonna comment on it.


0:05 - I'm a representative
Here you can hear two normal /ɛ/, as in "bed"
0:06 - I have cancer

In "cancer" /æ/ is before /n/, and this guy pronounces it less strong, almost a /ɛ/
0:07 - More dangerous than the plant itself
In "plant" /æ/ is before /n/, and this girl pronounces it like /eə/ or something. Also notice she uses /æ/ in "itself", which might be typical of Californians.
0:42 - You can tax it
Example of /æ/ in "tax"

0:54 - Can!
Example of /æ/ in "can" even though it's followed by a /n/.

As you can see, lots of accents, variations, etc.
WARNING: I'm not a native speaker and my English sucks, so don't trust me, LOL.

EDIT: I moved this thread here, because it's the right section. It takes more time to get replies in this section because less people check out this section, but here you are more likely to get relevant replies in the end. In the grammar section a thread like this is very likely to get lost among the others in less than a day.
if you wanna just learn just american, just keep it /æ/.

May vowel shifts have taken places. Read more here.
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 Kooyeen's reply was promoted to an answer.
Thanks very much. The both of you. That was quite helpful. I was just reading a text out loud and I already sounded more American.


DokterjokkebrokEmotion: smile
In California English, you can see front vowels raised before velar nasal: esp in the words like "thank you" and "think"

In thank,you hear e, instead of /ae/.
Students: We have free audio pronunciation exercises.