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I know the only difference between the two is that "Older" has an "L" sound. But I want to know if that "L" is obvious to native speaker? Or it could be easily mistaken.

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    I don't think I've ever misheard one as the other. But it seems unlikely that they'd ever fit into the same context, so that may prevent confusion.
    – Barmar
    Commented Dec 30, 2014 at 19:36
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    If someone has a cold, it could possibly be hard to detect the "L", but otherwise, to my native ears, I hear the "L". Commented Dec 30, 2014 at 19:38
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    I think the /l/ causes the first syllable to be lengthened. So even if you don't actually hear the /l/ sound, the word sounds more like "ooodor".
    – Barmar
    Commented Dec 30, 2014 at 19:38
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    What accent would the speaker have in order to pronounce the two words similar ? I didn't yet hear such an accent. Commented Dec 30, 2014 at 19:56
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    The /l/ is more prominent to an American native speaker than the /d/, and most of us would be satisfied saying or hearing /'olər/, as in /ʃiz'olərṇmi/ She's older than me. Commented Dec 30, 2014 at 20:00

3 Answers 3

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In my (UK) accent, the vowels are completely different: /ɒldə/ versus /əʊdə/. In an Essex accent, the l will be vocalised to /ʊ/, giving /ɒʊdə/, but the vowel (diphthong) will still be quite different.

3

In AmE, in my experience at least, the pronunciations of the two are quite different. The L is pronounced in older.

1

In some British dialects "older" is in fact pronounced as /ouder/ without l. Nevertheless the word classes of the two words are different and the structures in which they are used are totally different. So the two words, even if pronounced alike, will hardly lead to misunderstandings.

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