the pronunciation of bowl and ball
The pronunciation of bowl and ball sounds similar but not the same, right?
October 10 at 00:25
The pronunciation of 'bowl' and 'ball' are different in all varieties of English, as far as I know, but the exact pronunciation does vary with the type of English. In Australian English 'bowl' has the same vowel sound as 'bold' or 'no', while 'ball' has the same vowel sound as 'all' or 'awesome' but not the same vowel sound as 'father'. Yes, I agree they are similar, but definitely different. If they sounded the same 'please throw me the ball' could make me concerned that the bowl might fall to the ground and break!October 10 at 04:07
Ryanaissance is correct -- though in my mid-American accent the first vowel in "father" and "awesome" are different. English has more vowel sounds than many languages, and often the differences are subtle. Variations in vowel pronunciation probably are the biggest differences between regional accents. But I can't think of any examples where "ball" and "bowl" are pronounced the same.
You don't need to worry about all the regional and dialectical variations -- learn "standard" American or British pronunciation from reliable sources. But it might be interesting to explore some of the variations. The Harvard Dialect Survey used 122 questions to map variations in pronunciation and usage in the United States in 2003: . The first question is a good example -- how do you pronounce the word "aunt"? There are 8 (!) different answers:October 10 at 04:29
The father/awesome contrast is an example of the so called cot/caught merger. This is a nice illustration of the phenomenon and how it relates to the general issue of language change:October 10 at 19:50
I have 2 language partners from Taiwan and they both struggle with these exact words. What I tell them is to imagine bowl is spelled "bole". I pronounce it (in American English) exactly the same (other than the first letter) as hole, toll, coal, roll and mole. Ball is just pronounced as it is spelled the same as fall, call and mall but also the same as doll and Paul.October 10 at 20:43