I have been listening to a podcast where the host pronounces the word solder as "sodder" or "sod-der", even "saw-der". Same thing happened when the lecturer of one of my EE classes pronounced the word solder. As for me I pronounce the word solder as "sole-der" with a distinct L and a longish O.
This doesn't come from a dictionary, but I had a relative who spent most of his free designing clever circuits (from the 1920s onwards).
He always told me that the correct British pronunciation was "sodder", but that over the years it had started to be pronounced "solder" - which he believed was to avoid the embarrassment of a word that could be misinterpreted as being related to sodomy when speaking to people who didn't have a background in electronics (or pipework!).
He was a very respectable man with a very good knowledge of the English language and how it had evolved during the 20th century - and at least one of his electronicly minded friends also pronounced it "sodder".
Depending on your opinion of natural language, and if you should stick to more traditional, or modern, pronunciations either could therefore be correct.
The OED gives two pronunciations: |ˈsɒldə(r)| and |ˈsəʊdə(r)|
On WordReference.com, the latter is given as U.S. pronunciation.
While on the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary they are both given as BrE, while for AmE we have a new one: |ˈsɑːdər|. Here you can check them all out personally, audio included.
Whether or not to vocalize the 'l' in 'solder' seems to be a geographical issue.
Lionel Deimel has a nice article on words with silent 'l's.
Along with 'solder', he offers many other English words with silent 'l's, including:
- haulm (which is a variation of halm)
Some readers will argue that many of the words in Deimel's list have vocalized 'l's, but, like 'solder', this is probably related to geography.
In my accent (inland Cascadian English, in the northwestern United States), we say [sɑɾɚ], as "saw-der," to rhyme with "water." It looks like it should be pronounced [sɔldɚ] or similar, as "sole-der," to rhyme with "colder," and it may be pronounced that way elsewhere.
And, yes, to make that perfectly clear: in my accent, solder rhymes with water. That seems so bizarre now that I really think about it.
Not one of these words has a truly silent 'l' in all cases the 'l' works as a modifier.
Now Consider Solder.
It is a unique case.
It seems that the 'l' is only silent in the US not in the rest of world.
After living in the US for 25 years, I can't think of any word that is harder to get into my transatlantic brogue than "sodder". I actually do prefer the subtler sound of the American form — my ear appreciates it, but I hesitate to imitate it. I also sign on to the notion that it's one of the many, many words whose original meaning or pronunciation the wayward British have forgotten.
"The rest of the world" of course consists solely of Great Britain itself, and countries which were once colonies of Great Britain. Of course, the U.S. was too; but we severed most of our ties with the mother country earlier than most of the others, at a time when the language was still very much in flux.
So to say "the rest of the world" when the rest of the world has been highly influenced by a single country, means very little. As a matter of mere numbers, most native English speakers are actually American in any case.
Now, if you want to say that American English has changed more in the last few hundred years than British English, I think you'd be hard pressed to prove that. For example, though we get made fun of for NOT pronouncing the "h" in "herb", according to the OED nobody did until the 19th century. In fact, the word was earlier (ME) spelled as "erb" or "erbe". It isn't that Americans stopped pronouncing an "h" that everyone else did, but that the British started pronouncing it.
In any case, pick up any of the works of Shakespeare, or a copy of the King James version of the Bible. You will find that English as spoken has changed quite a bit since then. (And you won't even actually be seeing the King James Bible in its 1611 form; it's been edited several times since then, but the edits didn't necessarily have much fanfare. Most KJVs actually follow a 19th century edit.)
The point is, the language has changed a lot in the last 400 years -- on both sides of the Atlantic. We didn't invent the pronunciation "sodder", even if we're not the only ones who still use it.
In Australia, obviously being originally a British colony, we pronounce it “Sole-der”, as in colder. To me dodder sodder just make me think of to sodomise something, which is obviously not good. So it makes me cringe every time I hear an American pronounce it that way.
To say that because we don't pronounce the l in words like walk and talk means we don't in solder, is silly. We pronounce the l in cold and in sold and even mould.
To me solder sounds like it comes from the word solid in someway and I have nothing to back that up with, but that is what happens to solder, it starts as solid and ends up as a solid. You pronounce the l in solid right?
Anyway, like I said, it just makes more sense to me.