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The IPA for "cool" is /ku:l/ and for school is /sku:l/. There is the /l/ sound in both words according to the IPA.

However, an American friend of mine told me that native speakers don't pronounce the "l" sound at the end of words like "cool", "school", etc. Essentially, "cool" is pronounced the same way as "coo" and same goes for "school"-"schoo".

Is this true and if yes then what is the rule for this?

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    I think either you misunderstood your American friend, or your American friend was referring to something very specific. The L is definitely pronounced in most dialects and accents.
    – stangdon
    Commented Jul 7, 2023 at 11:56

2 Answers 2

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The l is pronounced, but in the most common dialects of English, it is a "dark"-l. Depending on your native language you may consider the "dark"-l to be a natural sound to make, or a different sound from the "light"-l, or completely unpronounceable.

While I know the technical difference between a light and dark-l, (the dark-l is velarized, the back of the tongue is raised towards the velum as the letter is pronounced), as a native speaker of English, I'm completely unconscious of this. I a not aware that I pronounce the dark-l differently.

If you search for "dark-l" you can find many videos and guides on how to pronounce the dark-l at the end of words like "cool" or "school".

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  • I don't think it has to do with the dark "l". For example, comapare the dark "l" in "smile" vs the dark "l" in "cool", you will see that the dark "l" in "smile" is very noticeable while the dark "l" in "cool" is virtually silent. Commented Jul 7, 2023 at 5:14
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    No, not to me. The l in cool is very noticeable and the word doesn't sound at all like "cool".
    – James K
    Commented Jul 7, 2023 at 5:26
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The word "cool" is pronounced with an "l" at the end in all standard varieties of English, and most non-standard ones.

When I imagine the word "cool" being pronounced without the "l" sound, to me it sounds like a young lower class inner-city American. The same person would probably pronounce "that" like "dat", saying "Dat's coo" for "That's cool".

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