Based on the pronunciations here, what I hear in Anime, and the way I hear kana pronounced in Japanese class, it seems to me that Austin should start with ア rather than オ, but it is clearly spelled with an オ (reference). Why is this? Am I somehow seriously misunderstanding the way kana are pronounced?
I am assuming that the reason for this has to do with cot/caught merger in English. It seems to me that British people would very likely pronounce words like "Austin" with the オ sound. On the other hand, I pronounce Austin much like this guy.
This issue is particularly important to me because my last name also contains this same sound, and in class, I've been spelling it with an ア.