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If the dictionary’s IPA for the word wolf is /wʊlf/, then why do I sometimes hear people pronounce it /wolf/ instead of /wʊlf/?

Aren’t /ʊ/ and /o/ different phonemes?

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    They don’t, because /o/ is not a phoneme in English – or at least, when it is used to represent a phoneme, it’s the diphthong /oʊ/, which is certainly not used in wolf as far as I know. [o] only occurs phonetically as allophones in certain contexts and specific dialects; e.g., as a free allophone of /ʊ/ after /w/. Most native speakers probably wouldn’t be able to tell the difference unless they specifically listened very closely for it. – Janus Bahs Jacquet May 4 at 17:06
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    I’ve never heard anyone pronounce the word as /wolf/, so you need to show evidence of this so we can understand what you’re asking. But the more important question is why do you think that everyone everywhere always pronounces all words the same way every time? – tchrist May 4 at 17:07
  • @JanusBahsJacquet Some native speakers say words like wolf, golf, gulf, twelfth without any /l/ in them whatsoever. They apparently can’t have /l/ before /f/ in the coda, but that’s not too surprising as /l/ + C in the coda can be found to be weakened in many dialects and indeed languages around the world. Consider also salmon in most speakers of English. – tchrist May 4 at 17:09
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    When I listen to the IPA interpreter pronounce "/wolf/" it sounds like nothing I've ever heard before. At best it's like a German or Russian or some such trying to pronounce the word. – Hot Licks May 4 at 18:49
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