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I'm attending a university course on spatial reasoning in computational systems. So the word spatial is often spoken here. The Germans in the course usually speak English slowly and more carefully so that I can hear an obvious difference between the two words spatial and special. But the English native speakers here, who talk a lot faster, don't seem to make a difference between the words.

Am I just unable to hear the difference because I'm not used to it or do they really make no difference?

marked as duplicate by KarlG, Nigel J, user240918, Lawrence, jimm101 Feb 28 '18 at 15:00

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The only flavor of English in which special and spatial are homophones is in a rural, uneducated Inland/Mountain South accent which can be heard from southern Ohio through Kentucky, Tennessee, western North Carolina and into Arkansas and Texas.

Otherwise, special is pronounced with a short e as in DRESS and spatial with a long a as in FACE.

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