pronunciation: bald / bold

  • panjandrum

    Occasional Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    In my version of English:
    ... bald is pronounced like ball with a d on the end.
    ... bold is pronounced like bowl with a d on the end.

    That may not help.
     

    kbbylily

    Senior Member
    france, français
    thanks a lot panjandrum, it's very helpful. and I hear that bold sounds like bowl. Unfortunately, WR doesn't give the spoken version of bald.
    I can hear the difference but I can't say it... I have to work on it!
     

    GreenWhiteBlue

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    "Bald" (in my accent, at least) has the same vowel as that found in "called", "tall", "salt", and even "saw".

    "Bold" has the same vowel as that found in "cold", "toll", "sold" and "so".
     

    cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    EEUU-inglés
    In my version of English:
    ... bald is pronounced like ball with a d on the end.
    ... bold is pronounced like bowl with a d on the end.

    That may not help.
    Same here, in AE. Ball and bald share a vowel sound with awl and awe and crawl and craw, while for me bold and bowl have a distinct "o", as in known, cold, and roll. For other AE speakers the vowel sounds may be closer.
     

    jamesjiao

    Senior Member
    New Zealand English and Mandarin Chinese
    hello,
    Is there a difference of pronunciation betwen these 2 words?
    thanks for your replies
    Try looking the words up on thefreedictionary.com . It has mostly American pronunciations but it should give you a rough guide.
     

    kbbylily

    Senior Member
    france, français
    thanks for the links.
    bold is pronounced like hold?
    but... I don't really hear a difference between bald and bold... It may be mild I guess
     

    cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    EEUU-inglés
    Kbbylily,
    In AE there are great regional differences in pronunciation of vowel sounds.
    Yes, bold is pronounced like hold, gold, told, and mold.
     

    se16teddy

    Senior Member
    English - England
    The problem is that native speakers distinguish ball from bowl and bald from bold, but they do so in a variety of different ways, depending on region, class etc.

    I have a Belgian francophone friend who generally pronounces his vowels like a South Londoner, and has been here 15 years, but who still can't distinguish bald/bold and ball/bowl convincingly and consistently. (Of course I have other French friends who have lived here just as long and make no effort with the English vowels whatsoever!)
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    At the ATT text to speech demo, you can type in "bold bald" ( or cold called etc) and select from a range of US or UK speakers who say them one after the other. The difference between the two words is always present but varies from speaker to speaker. Istriano's links demonstrate very clearly the sound difference (but I say dolled differently from bald, but that's a separate thread or two!!).
     

    Shahrooz

    Senior Member
    Persian
    After all, this point should be made that the worry over one single word pronunciation is when it comes alone to be spoken out, but once it comes with a group of other words forming a sentence or idea, then all the fuss about a delicate and a tinge of difference in pronunciation isn't that salient. like "Word" and "World", In pronunciation classes they always discuss for hours and make a great effort to articulate the correct sound - which is good, not saying that should be ignored - while, by simply applying these two words in a sentence it's all as plain as the nose on your face to understand and to be understood [ Communicative aspect of language ].
     
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    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    I think what you just said is that context will help resolve most uncertainties about the meaning of a word just heard but not clearly enunciated. However, it is good, when learning new vowel sounds for a new language, to know that one is saying "You are bold!" to someone and know that they did not hear "You are bald!" So we worry! One language I learned has two words that must be pronounced very clearly (they are very similar) : one means bill (at a restaurant) and the other means enema. I worry when I ask for the bill in that country :D
     

    sound shift

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I pronounce "bald" differently from "bold". People who are native to the area in which I live pronounce the word "bald" in a way that to me sounds very similar to my own pronunciation of "bold". I am not sure if these people pronounce "bold" differently from "bald".
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    Bald = bawled
    Bold = bowled
    That's how I would illustrate the pronunciations. But the issue then becomes how people would say bawled! That's why I always try to find an audio file with no IPA and no "words that sound the same". Only after joining this forum did I learn that a huge number of English speakers pronounce cot and caught with the same sound! The aught vowel for me is the same sound as the vowel in bald. But someone might think I meant another vowel sound. Sew con few zing!
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    Most people are generally consistent with themselves, and as far as I know most English accents distinguish between them. So if you consistently follow a particular accent, there isn't a problem.

    Bald has [ɔː] or [ɑː] (especially some American and southern Irish accents)
    Bold has [əʊ] or [oʊ] or [oː] - however, I remember hearing a vowel similar a vowel similar to [ɔː] in the English Lake District (around Cumbria).
     
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