Pronouncing Balm

Richard   Sunday, November 09, 2003, 12:46 GMT
how do you pronounce ''balm''. There was this one dictionary that said it should be pronounced with the ''l'' sound in it, because if it was not, it would make a useless homonym for ''bomb''. A balm heals. A bomb destroys.
Richard   Sunday, November 09, 2003, 14:42 GMT
There's a ''balm threat'' going on. Just kidding.
Ashley   Sunday, November 09, 2003, 14:45 GMT
like bäm
Tom   Sunday, November 09, 2003, 16:03 GMT
Many Americans pronounce a slight "l" in words like "balm" and "calm".
Richard   Sunday, November 09, 2003, 17:20 GMT
I pronounce calm as ''kom'', but their was this one dictionary that said that ''balm'' should be pronounce with the ''l'' sound, or else wise it would make a useless homonym of ''bomb'' and a balm is something that heals, while, a bomb is something that destroys. I also pronounce palm as ''pom''.
mjd   Sunday, November 09, 2003, 18:16 GMT
I pronounce "balm" with a slight 'l' sound. I think there is a hint of it in my "calm" too, but not as strong as in "balm."
Jim   Monday, November 10, 2003, 00:22 GMT
Richard, I'm not too sure about your "Once apon a time there was this one dictionary ..." story. Which dictionary is it? I've never heard of a dictionary taking such an approach to pronunciation.

A good dictionary doesn't prescribe how things should be pronounced but describes how they are pronounced. There are heaps of homonyms in English. People don't go around warping their pronunciation to eliminate them. Dictionaries, in my experience, don't go around telling people to do so.

I don't pronounce an /l/ in any of these words. Here's my pronunciation.

"balm" = /ba:m/
"palm" = /pa:m/
"calm" = /ka:m/
"psalm" = /sa:m/

Using Antimoon's Phonemic Alphabet: /a:/ represents the long "a" vowel as in "father". I guess this is the same way that Ashley pronounces it.

These are the pronunciations given in the Cambridge Dictionary. They don't mention an /l/.

Webster, on the other hand, does.

But even Webster doesn't say that you should pronounce an /l/ in these words, they just list it as an alternative.

A palm is something that grows in the tropics, while a Pom is something that eats fish and chips, watches soccer and drinks lager.

Perhaps for some "balm" & "bomb", "palm" & "Pom", "calm" & "com", etc. are homonyms but not for me. Again, using Antimoon's Phonemic Aphabet, this is how I pronounce them.

"bomb" = /bom/
"Pom" = /pom/
"com" = /kom/

The /o/ in my accent is a short rounded open-mid back vowel. The /a:/, on the other hand, is long, more open and central.
mjd   Monday, November 10, 2003, 01:48 GMT
I've been thinking about these words and I find I often don't pronounce the 'l' and at other times I do. Generally I suppose I don't. "Balm" is the only one where the 'l' is definitely noticeable
Richard   Monday, November 10, 2003, 02:21 GMT
Oh, I just remembered, I don't think it was a dictionary, but more like a spelling reform that suggested that ''balm'' should be spelled ''bolm'' because if it was spelled without the ''l'' it would make a useless homonym for bomb. and a balm does almost the opposite if what a bomb does. They respelled ''calm'' and ''palm'' as ''kom'' and ''pom'' though.
Richard   Monday, November 10, 2003, 02:23 GMT
I've never heard anyone pronounce the ''l'' in psalm.
Jim   Monday, November 10, 2003, 04:32 GMT
You and your spelling reforms, Richard.

I suppose, if it were a spelling reform, it would make sense. I mean, that they've suggested it would make sense not that it would be a sensible idea.

Such a spelling reform would make the mistake of considering the "o" in "bomb" to be the same phoneme as the "al" in "balm". If you're neither Canadian nor American, these are two different vowels. Thus they should have their own representation.

Here's what I'd have in mind for a spelling reform.

"balm" ==>> "baam"
"palm" ==>> "paam"
"calm" ==>> "caam"
"psalm" ==>> "saam"
"bomb" ==>> "bom"
"Pom" ==>> "Pom"

I've never heard the "l" in these any of words pronounced as /l/. Cambridge doesn't list it but Webster does, "psalm" too. The link I gave above doesn't work. Here's the right one.
Ryan   Monday, November 10, 2003, 22:43 GMT
I'd still pronounce the "l" in the top three words even if you changed the spelling of them.
Antonio   Tuesday, November 11, 2003, 11:20 GMT
I pronounce ´Balm´ and ´palm´ without the ´l´. No need of that because balm is very different from ´bomb´.

balm = [pO:m]
Richard   Tuesday, November 11, 2003, 18:31 GMT
There's a bomb in the building too, I know there is.
Their's a balm in the building two, I no their is.
Richard   Tuesday, November 11, 2003, 18:39 GMT
Oh, and I know everyone knows it's there, too.
Owe, and eye no everywon nose its their, two.