Bold/bald. Homophones?

akelas

Senior Member
Spanish, from Spain
Hello.
Are bold and bald homophones?
I looked them up in the word reference dictionary, but I can't tell the difference by the audio.
If not exactly the same sound, do they sound pretty similar for a native ear?
I know that bold has some u sound, perhaps?

Thanks.
 
  • inib

    Senior Member
    British English
    They´re not the same to me. I suppose you've already seen the phonetic transcription. A very rough description is that bald has something vaguely like a long version of a Spanish "o" whilst bold would be closer to "bould" (from a Spanish-speaker's point of view). This is only meant as guidance...it is not "scientific"!
     

    gato radioso

    Senior Member
    spanish-spain
    I'm not a native, but I would dare to say that "bald" has a longer vowel sound, being "bold" shorter. At least it's how it sounds to my ears.
     

    helsinki

    Senior Member
    UK
    English, UK
    For me bald should rhyme with ball and bold should rhyme with bowl. Hope that helps some.
    H
     

    TheCrociato91

    Senior Member
    Italian - Northern Italy
    Some general guidelines on the different pronunciations.

    American English
    - bold /boʊld/
    - bald /bɔːld/
    British English
    - bold /bəʊld/
    - bald /bɔːld/

    They look (and sound) pretty different to my non-native ear.

    As for "bald", do bear in mind that the /ɔ/ phoneme is also usually pronounced differently in two main English varieties.
    • In general American English it is a more open "o" sound (similar to the way most Spanish speakers pronounce the first "o" in "rojo").
    • In general British English it tends to be a more closed "o" sound (similar to the way most Spanish speakers pronounce the "o" in "voy").
    Like I said, please be aware that those are only general indications. They are not rules by any means.
     

    akelas

    Senior Member
    Spanish, from Spain
    Thank you all very much for your explanations. Quite elaborated I should say!
    I actually went to "Forvo" the Web with audios for most of the words, pronounced and recorded by native speakers, and I noticed the difference between bold and bald.
     

    fenixpollo

    moderator
    American English
    Thank you all very much for your explanations. Quite elaborate I should say!
    I actually went to "Forvo" the Web with audios for most of the words, pronounced and recorded by native speakers, and I noticed the difference between bold and bald.
    Didn't you try our dictionary first? If you look up bald at the top of this page, just click the "Listen" button on the WordReference.com dictionary entry. You can do the same for bold.
     

    sound shift

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Like I said, please be aware that those are only general indications. They are not rules by any means.
    True. Where I live, they can be homophones. I crouched down to pick up a ball for some kids, and one of them said what sounded like "You're bold." At first I was puzzled, but then I realised he was looking at the top of my head:(.
     

    Doraemon-

    Senior Member
    "Spanish - Spain" "Catalan - Valencia"
    In what we could call an "English pronounciation from Albacete" I hear something like "boold" (bald) and "bould" (bold). They're not homophones even to our Spanish ears (although I couldn't say if it's the case in every English dialect).
     
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