1. The WordReference Forums have moved to new forum software. (Details)

Pronunciation: palm (calm, almond - and others with internal "al")

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Yôn, Jun 6, 2006.

  1. Yôn Senior Member

    English
    I was reading a book on English a long while back, and it pointed out a difference in how the L in CALM is pronounced, but not pronounced in PALM. I was shocked, because I have always pronounced the L in PALM.

    I checked some dictionaries, and sure enough, PALM has a silent L. Does anyone else follow this practice? Are there any other words out there like this? I've never heard anyone NOT pronounce the L.




    Thank for any help,
    Jon
     
  2. Bil

    Bil Senior Member

    English USA
    I didn't believe you, but you're right! I must be a neanderthal! I've been pronouncing the L in palm, psalm, qualm and balm all my life. Those are all I can think of at the moment, but now I suspect I've been blowing on a lot of others, too.
     
  3. foxfirebrand

    foxfirebrand Senior Member

    The Northern Rockies
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    I pronounce the L in palm. Also the one in almond, which some people not only elide but also change the /aw/ to an /ae/ sound, so that almond rhymes with "Sam and Janet."

    You know the song-- Sam and Janet Evening?

    I pronounce the L in the other examples mentioned-- the only silent one I can think of is salmon, which in fact does rhyme with "Sam and Janet."
    .
     
  4. Yôn Senior Member

    English
    "Sam and Janet"? I'm not sure what you're talking about there...

    If NO ONE actually pronounces it without the L, then why on Earth doesn't the dictionary recognize this and change things?

    However, maybe there are a lot people who don't pronounce it.




    Jon
     
  5. Joelline

    Joelline Senior Member

    USA (W. Pennsylvania)
    American English
    I have never pronounced the L in palm, almond or salmon.

    Maybe this is a regional thing. I live in Western Pennsylvania.

    Off the top of my head, I can add the following to the non-pronounced L list (at least for me):

    could
    should
    would
    balm
    embalm
    talk
    walk
    balk
    chalk
    calf
    yolk
    Lincoln (2nd L only is not pronounced)

    I'm sure there are others, as well.
     
  6. Yôn Senior Member

    English
    I pronounce the L in the bold words above. I think most on that list are probably pretty solid--can't be pronounced any other way.



    Jon
     
  7. Joelline

    Joelline Senior Member

    USA (W. Pennsylvania)
    American English
    Jon,

    Did you ever hear (or sing) the old folk spiritual "There is a Balm in Gilead"? If you've heard it, you'd have noticed the L isn't pronounced. Did you ever watch the TV program, Six Feet Under? They never pronounced the L in embalm. Again, maybe this is just a regional thing; I've never even heard anyone pronounce the L's in those two words (though I have heard people pronounce the L in palm and almond).

    Joelline
     
  8. captain_rusty Senior Member

    Central France
    England
    The only word mentioned in the posts above where I DO pronounce the L is "almond" :)

    I come from Manchester, England.
     
  9. Joelline

    Joelline Senior Member

    USA (W. Pennsylvania)
    American English
    Well stop it, captain! :)
     
  10. maxiogee Senior Member

    imithe
    I'm with you Joelline. Never pronounced it either.
    I've heard "all-mond" but only from British people, and only a few of them. Delia Smith, the noted culinary personality does it.
     
  11. Joelline

    Joelline Senior Member

    USA (W. Pennsylvania)
    American English
    Maxiogee,

    We had a lot of Irish immigrants come to this part of America; maybe that's how we learned to pronounce it correctly! :D

    Joelline
     
  12. Joelline

    Joelline Senior Member

    USA (W. Pennsylvania)
    American English
    I just thought of 2 more words where the L is not pronounced:

    solder
    colonel

    The pronunciation-issue was surely one of the reasons I used to misspell these two words so often!
     
  13. Yôn Senior Member

    English
    I pronounce it "ALL-mund". I'm trying to think of the song in my head...

    "sometimes you feel like a nut,
    sometimes you don't.
    Almond Joy's got nuts,
    Mounds don't"

    I can't remember how it's pronounced on the comercial. This must be regional. I never hear people pronounce it without the L. When I tell people that the "correct" way is to use a silent L, they look at me like I'm insane.


    So, to you people who don't pronounce it, does the L at least modify the sound any? I mean, do you pronounce BOMB and BALM the same then?




    Jon
     
  14. Yôn Senior Member

    English
    Colonel has to be one of my favourite words. Honestly, there's not an R in there anywhere. Makes you wonder where the English came up with this stuff. :p.




    Jon
     
  15. diegodbs

    diegodbs Senior Member

    Madrid
    Spain-Spanish
    I was taught British English and I was taught not to pronounce the L in words such as "calm" or "balm".
    And, in the same way, I was taught to pronounce differently "bomb" and "balm", the vowel in "bomb" shorter than the "a" in "balm", and with a different sound too.
     
  16. Joelline

    Joelline Senior Member

    USA (W. Pennsylvania)
    American English
    I do pronounce bomb and balm the same way, but again that's probably a regional pronounciation.

    Jon, are you sure you're not British? You spelled "favourite" like a BE speaker! We Yanks usually spell it "favorite"! :)

    Joelline

    P.S. We'll all be listening carefully the next time the Almond Joy commercial comes on!
     
  17. captain_rusty Senior Member

    Central France
    England
    I don't pronounce the L in colonel, but I do in solder... I can't imagine a Brit not pronouncing it...
     
  18. Joelline

    Joelline Senior Member

    USA (W. Pennsylvania)
    American English
    captain,

    We are talking about the same word? That's solder (as in soldering 2 pieces of metal together) and not soldier (as in the army)?

    I ask because I can't imagine anyone saying SOL-DER, but, then, I've heard you Brits mispronounce ;) a lot of other words, now that I think about it! (How's that for a cheeky Yank?)

    Joelline
     
  19. captain_rusty Senior Member

    Central France
    England
    Yes, sol-der with a sol-dering iron!! :D

    Do you really pronounce it the same as "soda"??

    And don't forget who invented the language!! :D :D
     
  20. Brioche

    Brioche Senior Member

    Adelaide
    Australia English
    Actually, Daniel Jones' English Pronouncing Dictionary gives an L-less pronunciation of solder as an option;
    so it must be an older English pronunciation preserved in the US.
     
  21. captain_rusty Senior Member

    Central France
    England
    Very probable, yes - I was just kidding... :)
     
  22. panjandrum

    panjandrum PongoMod

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    No-l, no-l, no-l, no-l ..... from the top end of The Island.
    Not in any of the examples given except solder - which I can't imagine being pronounced without the l.

    The OED allows both, but gently points out that the l-less version is favoured in AE.
     
  23. TravisD

    TravisD New Member

    English Ohio, U.S.A.
    In AE we pronounce (well, at least everyone I've heard pronounce the word) the "R" in "solder". It's like "SAW-der". In the words mentioned above, I ALMOST pronounce the "L". It adds just a bit of flavor to the preceeding vowel. In some of them, it's a little bit stronger, especially "palm and "balm". "Colonel" being an exception, of course. According to Wikipedia, the words "colonel" and "coronel" come from middle French with the same meaning. We got the spelling of one and the approximate pronunciation of the other. Apparently, Spain uses "coronel".
     
  24. Yôn Senior Member

    English
    I actually spell a lot things funny like that. Spending so much time in British forums wore off on me a little :p.

    As for SOLDER... WOW! I could never imagine anyone using the L. I pronounce it like TravisD: "SAW-der."

    @Brioche -- I don't pronounce it like SODA. Maybe some pronounce it like "SAW-da", but I can't imagine the O being long with a silent L.

    Which reminds me, how do you pronounce the O for people who DO pronounce the L in SOLDER?

    Where are the people from who do pronounce L in PALM? I'm from Minnesota as you can see.

    That's shocking, because I could never imaging leaving the L out of CALM. However, I just checked Dictionary.com, and sure enough, they say "käm" for pronunciation. WOW!




    Jon
     
  25. diegodbs

    diegodbs Senior Member

    Madrid
    Spain-Spanish
    I was taught to pronounce it like "o" in British English "got".
     
  26. Joelline

    Joelline Senior Member

    USA (W. Pennsylvania)
    American English
    The closest I can come to my pronunciation of solder is sah-der with a sah-der-ing iron (which I've never done in my life)! I understand why Travis used SAW-der, but my first syllable doesn't quite (almost, but not quite) rhyme with saw or law.

    Rethinking "calm," it seems that sometimes I do pronounce the L and sometimes I don't! :confused: In the Christmas hymn "Silent Night," I don't pronounce the L in "All is calm, all is bright." But I know I do pronounce when I say something like "Calm down!" Hmmm. Never noticed that before.

    captain,
    Oh, I know very well who "invented" the language. Anytime something strange about our language comes up, I blame it on the Brits! :D
     
  27. maxiogee Senior Member

    imithe
    I'm a sol-der-er also. Never ever heard it any other way.
    I pronounce the "o" as in solvent! - where I also pronounce the "l" :)
     
  28. TravisD

    TravisD New Member

    English Ohio, U.S.A.
    Neither "SAW-der" or "SAH-der" is completely accurate for my pronunciation. When I go from the vowel to the consonant in those words, it's like I'll start moving my tongue to the back of my teeth to make the "L" sound but stop halfway so it's still a vowel-ish sound. I make the vowel sound, then draw it out with the tip of my tongue moving toward the "L" position, then move on to the consonant. Does that make sense? Could I be any less technical? Heh.
     
  29. kertek

    kertek Senior Member

    Brussels
    UK English
    I pronounce "solder" exactly like "older" starting with , but "solvent" like "solve" ending in [nt]. I pronounce the [l] in both but the "o" sounds differently...
     
  30. captain_rusty Senior Member

    Central France
    England
    For me the O in "solder" is a diphthong, like "oh!", "coat", etc...

    Thanks goodness we don't all speak exactly the same :D
     
  31. gordonio New Member

    Walnut Creek, CA
    USA American English
    I have always pronounced palm, calm, alms, almond, psalm, balm, "without the L sound", i.e. <pa:m>, etc. and cringe whenever I hear the spelling pronunciation of such words. Perhaps this is because of my age (63), background (Chicago, the north side), early education, (public and parochial school). I use the term "spelling pronunciation" to mean pronouncing sounds represented by letters in the spelling of a word which are not represented in its pronunciation. This is the case with all the "_alm" words and there are many other such instances in American English. One would certainly find it odd to hear "talk, walk, caulk", etc. pronounced with an L sound. Similarly the lack of a T sound in “soften” might indicate that the T in “often” would not be pronounced as it wasn’t originally but spelling pronunciation has made the T pronunciation now common. Maybe someday we’ll pronounce the T in “moisten” based on the analogy of “moist” and “moisture”. A final example of a spelling pronunciation that has affected the general public’s now common pronunciation is that for “arctic”. Growing up in the late nineteen forties and nineteen fifties, I always pronounced and heard others pronounce the words “arctic” and “Antarctic” without the K sound represented by c, i.e. <ar’ tik>. Now it is almost universally pronounced with the K sound. The history of the word shows that “arctic” was originally spelt / spelled “artic” with the c later introduced to make the spelling closer to the original Greek equivalent root. The word’s pronunciation, however, continued into the mid-twentieth century to be predominantly the original one without the K sound. After WWII the spelling pronunciation with the K sound began to be more common and finally the educational system adopted that pronunciation so that today few people younger than 60 pronounce arctic without the K sound. (The dictionary accepts both pronunciations). Sorry for the long disquisition!:)
     
  32. panjandrum

    panjandrum PongoMod

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Hello gordonio, and welcome to WordReference.
    I closed this thread after your post because you have introduced so many different issues of pronunciation.
    Pronunciation questions are always difficult in a written-language forum.

    panjandrum
    (Moderator)
     
  33. Redline2200

    Redline2200 Senior Member

    Illinois, United States
    English - United States
    I just heard something today that I have never before heard and I would like to know what the rest of the English speakers of this forum think.

    How do you pronounce the word "palm"?
    I am from the American midwest and to my knowledge, everyone here (and I thought everyone throughout the English speaking world) pronounces it with the "L", as in "pälm."
    However, after speaking with a friend of mine in a phonology class, and searching various online dictionaries, the 'correct' pronunciation seems to be with a silent "L" as in "päm."

    Is this a generally understood pronunciation that I have been mispronouncing my entire life or do the vast majority of English speakers actually say "päm"?

    I am highly interested in the opinions of Americans (from all over the country), Britons, Australians and any other native English speakers.
    Please put in your two cents as this topic interests me and I would like to get as wide a consensus as possible!

    << This thread has been retroactively merged with an earlier thread on the same subject.
    There may be some overlap in the discussion.
    Cagey, moderator. >>
     
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2012
  34. Dimcl Senior Member

    British Columbia, Canada
    Canadian English
    I do put in a very slight "L" sound. When I say it, my tongue lifts (slightly) toward the roof of my mouth (behind my upper teeth). When I say "pom", there's no tongue movement. Whether other people hear that difference when I say "palm tree", I'm not sure. It is not, however, a blatant "L" sound and if I speak rapidly, the odds are that listeners wouldn't hear that slight "L" at all.
     
  35. cycloneviv

    cycloneviv Senior Member

    Perth, Western Australia
    English - Australia
    I'm with Dimcl in that there's a slight wave of the tongue in the direction of making an "l" sound, but no distinct "l". It sounds, to all intents and purposes, like a slightly rounded "parm". (It seems that the vowel sound is a little different from in Dimcl's neck of the woods.)
     
  36. dwipper Senior Member

    Iowa, U.S.
    U.S. English
    I can't speak for everyone in the midwestern U.S., but I'm fairly sure I don't say an /l/ in palm, despite my best efforts to convince myself otherwise. I don't know if you can read IPA, but my pronunciation is somewhere between [pʰɑːm] and [pʰɑʊm]. I'm pretty sure this is the case for all back vowels followed by a lateral and nasal. For lack of a better example, if were to say the name Volma, I would probably pronounce it [voːmə] or [voʊmə].
     
  37. Brioche

    Brioche Senior Member

    Adelaide
    Australia English
    In standard BE, there is no L sound in these words:
    calm, balm, palm, psalm, qualm,
    chalk, talk, walk,
    could, should, would,
    almond, salmon,
    folk
    Lincoln
    colonel. [the final L is pronounced, not the one after o]

    In non-rhotic English, calm, charm, farm, farther, father, harm, palm all have the same vowel sound.
     
  38. konungursvia Senior Member

    Toronto
    Canada (English)
    Here we say /pam/, where the /a/ is similar to the /a/ in father.
     
  39. Dimcl Senior Member

    British Columbia, Canada
    Canadian English
     
  40. Redline2200

    Redline2200 Senior Member

    Illinois, United States
    English - United States
    I am with cycloneviv and dimcl, the more I think about it, the more slight my pronunciation of the "L" is, but it is definitely there.
    When I say it without the "L", it sounds to me like 'pom' like what a cheerleader uses (pom-poms), and my pronunciation of 'palm' and 'pom' are definitely different.

    I cannot imagine saying words like 'psalm' or 'calm' without the "L", however, saying 'lip balm' like 'lip bom' sounds natural.

    I don't know, this is a weird topic to think about, but I am very grateful for all who responded (and hopefully more still do!).
     
  41. lablady

    lablady Senior Member

    Central California
    English - USA
    I have been sitting here practicing Brioche's list of words and have come to two main conclusions. Firstly, it's a good thing everyone else in my household has gone to bed because I undoubtedly look very silly sitting here talking to myself. Secondly, I slightly but definitely pronounce the "L" in "palm".

    My list is the same as Dimcl's with one main exception - I also pronounce the "L" in "folk" with the slight "L" sound others have mentioned.

    And a minor exception - my pronunciation of "almond" has the same slight "L" sound as "palm".

    A quick side note: my mother-in-law pronounces "almond" without the "L", just like "ammon" with the "a" as in "cat". The first time she sent me to the store to buy some, I didn't know what she wanted! :eek:
     
  42. Brioche

    Brioche Senior Member

    Adelaide
    Australia English
    There is a tendency to pronounce some words as they are spelt, rather than in the traditional way.

    When I was a lad, nobody pronounced the T in often, but it's becoming quite common.

    My grandfather didn't pronounce the L in golf or falcon. He said gofe and fawcon.

    I knew an old chap who worked in a brick kiln. Everybody there pronounced it "kill". Some folk don't pronounce the L in solder and soldering-iron.

    In the 1992 Disney film Aladdin they pronounced the W is sword!!!
    In my brand of English, a sward is not the same as a sword.
     
  43. Txiri

    Txiri Senior Member

    USA English
    I pronounce "palm" with an -l- sound. And in calm, balm; chalk, talk; almond, folk, but not the other words in Brioche´s list. I´m in the southcentral US.
     
  44. dreamlike

    dreamlike Senior Member

    Poland
    Polish
    <Moderator note: dreamlike's thread has been merged with an earlier thread>

    Hi everyone,

    I am told by this OALD's entry that the word 'qualm' can be pronounced in two ways -- (i) /kwɑ:m/ and (ii) /kwɔ:m/.
    Which of these is more common in British English in your experience? Sadly, I can't access my digital Longman pronunciation dictionary which offers the so-called 'preference polls', hence this thread.
     
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2014
  45. sound shift Senior Member

    Derby (central England)
    English - England
    Hello,

    I use pronunciation (i). I don't recall hearing (ii) from a speaker of BrE.
     
  46. dreamlike

    dreamlike Senior Member

    Poland
    Polish
    Thank you for your answer. :thumbsup: I wonder if it is non-existent in British English or just extremely uncommon... whatever the case may be, why did they bother to list in OALD?
     
  47. sound shift Senior Member

    Derby (central England)
    English - England
    Perhaps my experience is untypical.
    My Chambers dictionary (published in the UK) lists (i) and (ii), like the OALD.
    My Collins dictionary (published in the UK) lists only (i).
    :confused:
     
  48. pops91710

    pops91710 Senior Member

    For what it's worth from an AE perspective – I have never heard anything but (i).
     
  49. sound shift Senior Member

    Derby (central England)
    English - England
    I'm not surprised about that, pops, because it is often claimed that AE doesn't possess [ɔ:].
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2014
  50. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    Here's what the OED says, dreamlike:
    For me, it's definitely /kwɑːm/.
     

Share This Page