Do the combinations "al(t)" and "aul" sound the same in speech?

  • Salt, Halt, Walt...
  • Fault, Vault, Assault...

And are they always pronounced as "olt"?

Edit: Notice that the word "alter(native)" can be pronounced "olt", "ult" and "elt".

  • What about your pal Paul? – Laurel Nov 20 '17 at 16:58
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    I say "salt", "halt", "Walt", "fault", "vault" with a BrE short "o" /ɒ/. My dad says them with "aw" /ɔ:/. Neither of us distinguishes the vowels in "salt", "halt" from those in "fault" etc. And both of us use /ɔ:/ for "all", "ball", "call", "fall", "law", "door".) With polysyllables our usage varies more - in my case between /ɒ/ and /ʌ/ in "assault" between /ɔ:/ and /ʌ/ in "alter", "assault", and between /ɒ/ and /ɔ:/ in "Baltic", depending how carefully I'm speaking. However, I can't rule out that some speakers might distinguish the vowels in "salt"/"halt" from those in "fault"/"vault". – rjpond Nov 20 '17 at 19:43

I expect these pronunciations vary with regional dialect.

I pronounce "salt", "halt", "Walt", "fault", and "vault" with very similar vowel sounds. I pronounce "Assault" with two schwas ("uh-suhlt").

It seems that the five words that sound similar are all having their vowels modified by the "lt".

But notice that there are similarly spelled vowels that sound very different:

  • "shalt"
  • "half", "halve", "calf", "calve"
  • "Al", "Cal", "Sal"
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