In computing, a locale is an identifier for a user’s language or region.

As a non-native speaker, I somehow came to pronounce it low-kale, while it seems it’s rather enunciated lo-kaal (avowing its French origin).

Unfortunately, I don’t understand IPA differences, like between /ləʊˈkɑːl/ and /loʊˈkæl/; it looks like leu-kal and lou-kel to me.

Is lo-kaal how to exclusively pronounce “locale”? Is it rather British?

Is it entirely wrong to say low-kale? Or is this how it’s used in the US?

Maybe there are distinctions in vocalization depending on meaning (computing, geography).

  • 1
    Re-spellings like " lo-kaal," "leu-kal," "lou-kel" are really not useful; they're too ambiguous. If you can't take the time to learn IPA, the best way to refer to vowels is to use example words, like "pal," "pale," "pall." (Unfortunately, there is no good example word with the same vowel and consonant sequence used in one pronunciation of "locale.") Some people pronounce the last syllable of "locale" with the vowel of "pal"; others pronounce it with the vowel in the first syllable of "father."
    – herisson
    Commented Jun 29, 2016 at 9:54
  • /əʊ/ is the IPA way to write the Received Pronunciation 'long O'; it's pronounced more or less as the second vowel in China followed by the vowel in boot or put. /oʊ/ is the same sound in most American accents, pronounced as the second vowel in Spanish gato, followed by, as before, the vowel in boot or put. /ɑː/ is the first vowel in father, while /æ/ is the vowel in cat.
    – Angelos
    Commented Jun 29, 2016 at 9:57
  • @sumelic Pall is /pɔːl/ for me, but I suspect for a lot of people it's /pɑːl/. It isn't really very helpful.
    – Angelos
    Commented Jun 29, 2016 at 9:58
  • @Nothingatall: But in general, whichever vowel people use in "pall" is the same as they use in "Paul," or "all," or "law." It is useful; you just have to choose an example word that patterns in the same way across dialects. The issue in this specific case is just that words with the "father"/"bra" vowel are particularly rare, and identity of the vowel phoneme in these words tends to be unstable (it can sometimes be replaced with the vowel in "cat", and as you mention, is sometimes identical to the vowel in "law.")
    – herisson
    Commented Jun 29, 2016 at 10:06
  • 1
    @dakab How about the name Carl?
    – Andrew Leach
    Commented Jun 29, 2016 at 10:51

4 Answers 4


Oxford Dictionaries lists locale as /ləʊˈkɑːl/. You can click on the recording there. It sounds like "low karl", which is presumably the standard British pronunciation. That's how I pronounce it as a speaker of Australian English, which typically follows British pronunciation.

The American pronunciation of /loʊˈkæl/ is closer to the French pronunciation of /lɔkal/. That is, it's like "low cal" as in "low cal(orie) yogurt".

  • +1 𝑓𝑜𝑟 “karl” and “calorie”. Those two are helpful in distinction.
    – dakab
    Commented Jun 29, 2016 at 12:39

There is a tendancy for English speakers to pronounce foreign loan-words with unusual vowel or consonant sounds, in order to emphasis the exotic origin.

So many people will pronounce locale as "lo-KAAL", when lo-KAL" is arguably more correct as being closer to the original French.

My personal perception is that American English speakers make this error with French loanwords more often than British English speakers, while the opposite is true with Spanish, though this is may be confirmation bias on my part.

  • FWIW I'm british and I say "low-kall" Commented Jun 29, 2016 at 10:53
  • @MaxWilliams: is that "all" as in "ballad," "caller," or "carl"?
    – herisson
    Commented Jun 29, 2016 at 11:03
  • @sumelic "ballad", but I take your point that this isn't always a helpful approach. Commented Jun 29, 2016 at 11:55
  • Thanks for pointing out that tendancy. It probably arises from English-French and American-Spanish relationships respectively. From an applied linguistic point of view, it’s almost natural, but it’s a bit tricky.
    – dakab
    Commented Jun 29, 2016 at 12:48

Just check out Youglish site. They have US/UK accent, as well as tags support.

Generic: http://youglish.com/search/local

US version: http://youglish.com/search/local/us

UK version: http://youglish.com/search/local/uk

software related: http://youglish.com/search/local%20%23software

Obama says it: http://youglish.com/search/local%20%23obama


  • 1
    That's a really interesting site but they were asking about locale not local. Commented Jun 30, 2016 at 7:59

You have the right idea about the pronunciation for the most part. Any time you aren't sure about the pronunciation, you can go to YouTube and type in: How to pronounce WORD. It's quite often what I do when I'm sitting in the recording booth and I'm faced with a unfamiliar name or word.

For 'local' and 'locale', you can reference the following two YouTube links:



  • Thanks a helpful link that I wasn't previously aware of. Thanks.
    – TrevorD
    Commented Jun 29, 2016 at 11:03

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