. . . calm . . .calm . . . [audio source]

• (UK) IPA: /kɑːm/, X-SAMPA: /kA:m/ • (US) IPA: /kɑm/, /kɑlm/, X-SAMPA: /kAhm/, /kAlm/ [wiktionary.org]

The first calm seems to be [kɑlm], and the latter [kɑːm]. Do I hear right or both sound [kɑlm]?

  • I think you're hearing correctly. Mar 24 '13 at 13:11

This article has an extended list of words with silent and pronounced "l".

For a language learner, the simplest rule is remembering some most commonly used words that do have silent "l":

  • -alk: talk, walk, chalk;
  • -ould: could, should, would;
  • -alf: half;
  • -alm: calm, palm;

Pronouncing the rest of the words with "l" articulated is not necessarily grammatical, but certainly more accepted/understood by native speakers.

Also, see this question on ELU for more details.

Update: as @tchrist noticed, words with -alm may be subject of variations.

  • 9
    Um, no. Neither calm nor palm has a “silent L” in my own speech. Calm is like the start of “call me a taxi”, and palm is like the start of “Paul might call me.” The L is not suppressed for me: neither in the phrases nor in the single words. That’s why it is present in the IPA above. Mine might be closer to the CLOTH vowel, though.
    – tchrist
    Feb 14 '13 at 2:51

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