One of my colleague have kept pronouncing 'fuel' as 'fju:ə'.

There is omission of the 'L' sound. In the dictionary, phonetic transcription of 'fuel' is 'fju:əl'

I'm not a native speaker (living in Korea speak of which), but I can say that sounds very weird, so I told him that it doesn't sound natural. And I let him listen to the standard pronunciation from an electronic dictionary. The 'L' sound is weak but can be heard.

He kept saying that he has been praised on his pronunciation by a native speaker. I'm not trying to judge, but the pronunciation is still awkward.

Is it correct to pronounce 'fuel' as 'fju:ə'?

  • 1
    Some people say [fju:o], but I've never heard [fju:ə].
    – Angelos
    Jul 11, 2016 at 16:08
  • Is it true that the L sound does not occur in Korean? Or does not occur at the end of a word? That could be why a Korean speaker tends not to pronounce it in foreign words.
    – GEdgar
    Jul 11, 2016 at 16:43
  • @GEdgar: See Why the letter “L” is difficult to pronounce for Korean native speakers. Which to my mind makes it inarguable that this question belongs on English Language Learners, not here. Jul 11, 2016 at 17:23
  • @FumbleFingers I wouldn't trust that page as far as I could throw it (which isn't far, considering it's a virtual entity): even just that short bit of text is riddled with nonsensical errors. I think this is borderline enough that we can keep it here—though inexpertly worded, it is clearly meant to be about vocalisation of post-vocalic velarised /l/, which is say is on topic here. Jul 11, 2016 at 17:29
  • @Janus: Now I've actually read the page, I agree it wouldn't be much use if you were a Korean seeking help with the pronunciation. But the mere fact that the page exists at all seems to me quite sufficient to justify the claim that Koreans don't naturally have the /l/ phoneme in their vocabulary. If you think questions from non-native speakers seeking help with pronunciation belong here rather than ELL, there's not much I can say to persuade you otherwise (you've been here long enough that you know all the arguments). But I don't think I'm likely to change my position either. Jul 11, 2016 at 17:42

2 Answers 2


Yes, there is someone - your friend. All variations I've encountered have the "L", though the strength of it may vary. I dare say there is some dialect where you can barely hear it.

Generally speaking, it's not a good argument for the pronunciation of a word to say "I've heard it said like that once". The aim of language is communication, and it will aid communication if you pronounce words in a standard way, i.e. a way spoken by a large number of people.

  • 5
    There are lots of dialects where the /l/ is entirely vocalised; but [ə] is not a realisation I've ever heard of vocalised /l/. It's usually either a rounded back vowel of some kind or (especially after /u/) zero. A Londoner may well pronounce fuel as [fjuːʷ] or something like that, for instance; but not likely [fjuːə]. Jul 11, 2016 at 17:34
  • Southern US drawl might approach [fjuːə]...
    – J...
    Jul 12, 2016 at 23:52

Is it "acceptable"? Strictly speaking, if the people he's talking to understand him, then it's acceptable. That's how language evolves.

Is it commonplace and likely to be understood around the world? No.

Certainly personally I've never heard that before and would consider it quite strange. And I'm a native speaker so I don't know what kind of native speaker your colleague was listening to.

  • 1
    Ot just answers, your opinions helped the way I think about communication.
    – lhrkknd
    Jul 11, 2016 at 23:31

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