regional vowel shifts

I'm just beginning learning Simplified. I needed to write "water" the other day, and just wrote what I heard: "oo-a-t-r". I've always heard the a pronounced as in father. Then I realized that was the same outline as waiter, so I looked it up and found that the outline is "oo-aw-t-r", and remembered hearing it that way in New England. (I'm in Tennessee)

So, in general, should we expect to remember the "proper" outline, or write what we hear with some regional vowel shift.

I'm not talking about extremes here: "light" clearly has a long i--even though it is often heard as "let", that is generally recognized as wrong, even here.

But it seems that the difference between aw in law a in father is rather subtle (unless you're in the UK).

So, is it recommended to write what you hear, or look everything up, or whatever, as long as you can read it later.

VLindsay has certainly run into this, as accents are "thicker" in Mississippi than here.


(by harpweaver for everyone)