I merge /ʊ/, /oʊ/, and /ʌ/ before /l/ to form /oʊ/. Soul, bull, and hull all rhyme for me. Is there any record of this merger in US English?

Edit: Dull is in the same class (/ʌl/) as hull. I replaced it with an /oʊl/ word (soul). I say "bull" and "hull" to rhyme with "soul".

  • 1
    Please clarify your specific problem or provide additional details to highlight exactly what you need. As it's currently written, it's hard to tell exactly what you're asking.
    – Community Bot
    Jan 19, 2022 at 20:12
  • Please could you give an example word with /oʊ/ before /l/?
    – Rosie F
    Jan 19, 2022 at 20:58
  • Dull, bull, and hull all rhyme for me I speak British English and they all rhyme... Are you referring to the "dark L"?
    – Greybeard
    Jan 19, 2022 at 21:17
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    Dull and hull are supposed to rhyme. They're /dʌl/ and /hʌl/ in the dictionary. Jan 19, 2022 at 21:26
  • Bowl also rhymes with those for me.
    – glarder
    Jan 19, 2022 at 21:59

1 Answer 1


The paper "North American mergers in progress" says the following; I've adjusted the formatting slightly:

In the course of the study, Telsur found evidence for a number of other mergers of back vowels before /l/ codas. Figure 9.4 shows a merger of /owl/ with /uwl/ and /ul/. Minimal pairs for these contrasts were introduced in the course of the study but not consistently over the whole Telsur sample. In order of frequency of ʻsameʼ responses, these items were:

  1. the merger of /ul/ and /owl/ as in bull and bowl;
  2. the merger of /ʌl/ and /ohl/ as in hull and hall;
  3. the merger of /ul/ and /ʌl/ as in the rhyming pair bull and hull;
  4. the merger of /ʌl/ and /owl/ as in hull and hole.

The first three of these at least deserve further study.

You apparently have mergers (1), (3), and (4).

That paper appears to be part of a project from the early 2000s. If there hasn't been more definitive research since then, you may deserve further study.

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    That's using /u/ for the vowel of bull, pull, put, could, hook, cook where it should be using /ʊ/. That’s really weird! Usually /u/ represents the vowel of pool, Boole, cool, tool, who’ll. And what they’ve written /ohl/ is some insane way of writing /ɔl/ as in all, always, call, tall, Paul, mall, gall, fall. Gosh dog it!
    – tchrist
    May 1 at 0:36
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    @tchrist Yeah, the paper appears to not use proper IPA for some inexplicable reason.
    – alphabet
    May 1 at 0:45

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