SOLDER.

I just discovered that each major English-speaking region has its own way of pronouncing this word, and apparently (to judge by this WordOrigins thread, where I discovered the situation) each is unaware of the others. I had always assumed everyone pronounced it SODD-er, as we do in the US (short o, no l). Now I find that Australians say SOHL-der (long o, with l), while the OED says “(‘sQld@(r), ‘s@Ud@(r)),” which means Brits use a long o (SO) when they omit the l but a short one when they pronounce it (SOL). So what I want to know is, what do Canadians say? Other variants and anecdotes are, of course, welcome.

Comments

  1. I, with my Montreal English dialect, pronounce just like you do, and don’t know anyone who pronounces it otherwise. This isn’t as small a sample size as one might assume, because I had to buy solder and soldering irons and stuff while I was doing stained glass, and I discussed my really bad soldering technique with various people.
    Every single francophone initially pronounces it like soldier but without the affrication on the d (the change the i makes), and everyone corrects them to the l-less variant.

  2. Just to keep the thread going (unless maybe New Zealand or South Africa bails us out, we seem to be in trouble) I’ll paraphrase a Jack Handy joke:
    “People laughed when the new cowboy rode into town, because instead of a pistol, he had a soldering iron in his holster. But they were wrong to laugh, because it was no ordinary soldering iron. It was the Soldering Iron of Justice.”

  3. Tim May says:

    … the OED says “(‘sQld@(r), ‘s@Ud@(r)),” …
    That’s rather surprising. I don’t have a complete OED here, but both the Concise Oxford Dictionary (tenth edition, 1999) and the New Oxford Dictionary of English (1998) give /’s@Uld@, ‘sQld@/. My own pronunciation (southern England, mostly) is the former. As the Australians, apparently, although I imagine the phonetic realization is somewhat different there.

  4. aldiboronti says:

    Interesting piece on Quinion related to this:
    http://www.quinion.com/words/qa/qa-sof1.htm
    It concerns the phrase “soft sawder”, meaning the same as “soft soap” and coined in the 19th century by Judge Haliburton of Nova Scotia.
    Quinion says, “Sawder is just a variant way of writing the usual North American pronunciation of solder (it looks odd to modern British English speakers, who pronounce the l—we didn’t at one time, but the “speak as you spell” movement has triumphed)……………It seems from the evidence that soft sawder very quickly caught on in North America, and soon enough across the Atlantic in Britain, too. It was common right down to Agatha Christie’s time, turning up in works by Galsworthy and E M Forster among others. However, soft soap and other phrases have displaced it permanently. Few people now know what soft solder is, nor what connection it might have with flattery.”

  5. I use the long O and the l and sometimes in rapid speech it may transform into soldier. I’m from central Canada.

  6. Interesting. So the 2nd ed. of the OED is well out of date.

  7. I haven’t encountered any pronounciation besides /’s@Ud@r/ in Ireland.

  8. Long O and I do pronounce the L, and I’m around the Toronto area. Basically, the same way I pronounce the first part of “soldier”.
    In fact, I have never heard a different pronunciation — and I took a couple electronics courses in high school, so I came across the word often.

  9. I’m from Sydney, although I grew up in Brisbane. I’d say SOHL-der is standard in Australia although I am aware of people occasionally shortening the ‘o’. Pronouncing the ‘l’ is invariable.

  10. wacky. I say it both ways, and always assumed they were synonyms spelt respectively solder (SOHL-der) and saughter (SODD-er).
    US born and raised, mostly. Parents from Washington state, Mom from a depression migration out of Missouri. She says “boosh” for bush and “Warshington” and “warsh.” Her family probably has more recent non-American native English speakers in’t.

  11. tickingclock says:

    Hello. I’ve been following your blog ever since I found it via MeFI, but I never commented because I didn’t know if it would be appropriate for a random stranger to suddenly blurt out something and then disappear. I hope you don’t mind me commenting with some anecdotes.
    Upon reading your post, I took the liberty of asking a few of my friends:
    Two people, both born and raised in Vancouver, say SOUL-der. One of them has taken several electronics course in high school before. My brother, who learned most of his English here, says SOUL-der. My friend who lives in Ottawa prefers SOUL-der (but has heard SOD-der before).
    Two say SOD-der. One has lived in Vancouver all his life; the other spent a fair bit of her childhood in Northern Ireland, but has since lost her ‘accent.’
    As for myself, I say “SOD-der,” and I’ve never known any other way until tonight. Curiously enough, my brother and I have lived in Vancouver for the same amount of time (7~8 years), and both learned most of our English here. I would claim that it’s because I’ve taken electronics before, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.
    Sorry for the lengthy comment. I hope you found this to be somewhat informative and interesting!

  12. I am British and pronounce it to rhyme with shoulder (so how do I pronounce that?!)
    My reference is the Longman Pronunciation Dictionary – I really must get the 2nd ed., it’s a wonderful book, written by J.C. Wells, a professor of phonetics. It gives one main BE and one main AmE pronunciation, plus one alternative and two obsolete BE ones.
    Main BE is with L and short o, secondary BE is mine, with L and long o (excuse abbreviated sound descriptions), obsolete BE in both cases, as LH says, without the L. Main AmE is with long o and without the L. The OED is not going to be the best source on this.

  13. Yes, it’s got soul for me to, in the south of England. Never heard it any other way.

  14. hippietrail says:

    I’m Australian and I’ve never heard it prononced without the “l”.
    As for the “o”, to me an “o” before an “l” always seems short. I can’t actually imagine the sound of a long “o” before an “l” though even Australian dictionaries indicate it for most words. I can say that I also pronounce “soldier” and “solder” alike except for /dZ/ becoming /d/.

  15. OED1 has /’sold@/, /’soud@/, /’sod@/, but I think the L-less ones are just historical and American. Professor Wells’s lists are often based on current surveys, though this word isn’t in his 1998 one.
    I can’t think of a word that unequivocally has the sequence /old/, so it’s natural for /ould/ to develop for that spelling. This is an odd omission, since /olt/ is now the usual SBr pronunciation in ‘salt’, ‘alternate’ etc., replacing /o:lt/. Voiced/voiceless pairs usually give sub-phonemic length alternations but not phoneme differences.
    It’s complicated by the fact that in SBr now for many speakers, as in Australia, /ol/ and /oul/ are not or are barely distinguished. The /ou/ is realized as [QU] or [Q:] before /l/. (And of course the /l/ is [w] for many speakers, muddying it further.)

  16. I’m from Alberta and never heard it pronounced any other way than ‘sodder’ until I moved out east here (or, as they say, central Canada). Here it seems to be pronounced both ways.

  17. Kiwis accord with Aussies on this one. I say it “soulduh”, rhymes with boulder. (No final r’s down here mate, unless you’re from Southland).
    (Consternation this week when the New Zealand Listener noted that among the young folk here, “beer”, “bear”, “here” and “hair” all have the same vowels, a trend that started with my generation but has since become universal. I’ve been trying to train my daughter out of this but I think I’m just going to have to give in.)

  18. tickingclock: Thanks for a most informative comment (I appreciate people doing that kind of legwork!) and I assure you that it’s most appropriate for a random stranger to suddenly blurt out something. No need to disappear, though; next time you comment, you won’t be a random stranger but good old tickingclock! I should really put something on the sidebar about all and sundry being welcome; some people seem to think there’s a LH cabal or something. Commenters drift in and out (*remembers past pals who have disappeared, sighs a bit*); the important thing is that somebody comment on the damn posts, or else I feel like I’m talking to myself.
    MM, entangledbank: You too have been most enlightening. I’ll have to get a copy of that Longman.
    This really is a fascinating word; the US and Australia/NZ seem to have set pronunciations, but Canada is obviously a mix. South Africa, anyone?

  19. My Chambers dictionary has even more UK variants: it lists “sodder” as the primary pronunciation and “soulder” the secondary, along with “sawder”, “soder” (like soda with an r) and “sohlder” (soh as in doh, re, mi). I think it’s getting into regional and class variations: “sohlder” would be extreme RP, “sawder” quite plausible in a strong rural Devon accent. But I agree with other UK posters: for middle-of-the-road English within the areas I know (southern and Midlands UK, over some 40 years) I’ve never heard it pronounced as anything but “soulder”.

  20. Southwestern Ontario (about 100 km SW of Toronto).
    “SODD-er,” same as you.

  21. Am I reading you guys correctly that you pronounce it “sodder”, with the dental consonant in the middle voiced? I definitely say “sawter”, with a hard “t” sound in the middle, and I thought that was what everybody else said too.

  22. BTW how about “soldering”? You say “soddering”? — I say “sawtering”.

  23. SODder and SODdering for me just outside of Toronto. Mind you, I am not taken aback by many of the other variations as I have heard a few of them.

  24. Nope, it’s a voiced d with me. I don’t think I’ve heard anyone say “sawter,” but it’s a subtle difference and I haven’t been listening for it. (Not that the subject comes up very often.)

  25. Jeremy:
    I do say ‘soddering’ when using that version. But as noted I always thought it was spelled ‘saughter,’ as I also say ‘slodder.’ it’s a middle sound b/t the tee of ‘ticking’ and the dee of ‘dog.’

  26. er, ‘slodder’ is for the word ‘slaughter,’ sorry.

  27. Matthew G says:

    “SODD-er” on Vancouver Island, BC.

  28. Imagine the chaos if phonetic spelling were to be adopted in English!

  29. Thank you. This is one of the things spelling reformists tend to forget.

  30. I’m (south-eastern) English and always said soul-der. I had no idea that there was any alternative, in fact, until I came across an late-eighteenth-century court case (in Wales) in which an unfortunate soul was fatally beaten about the head with a ‘soddering iron’. I was a bit puzzled for a while…

  31. dungbeattle says:

    Many moons ago in NY, I asked for solder and got a blank stare[could be they thought I wanted to find the recruiting office, they be needing fodder for the Asian wars], after a while I sed it rite, then in LA I asked again got more blank stares then got it rite, then went to Quebeck, told to leave town, then back to London and got more blank stairs. So when ye asked the question, the grey matter was now leaded down,I know the spelling but my tung is tyed and twisted. So thanks for the above explanation. My ears and my eyes are no longer in sink[sync].

  32. hippietrail says:

    A surprise today when I checked Australia’s native dictionary, the Macquarie (Federation Edition):
    solder is pronounced /”sQld@/ – with a short “o” only. Meanwhile, the expected minimal pairs soldier and shoulder are pronounced /”soUldZ@/ and /”SoUld@/ – both with long “o”.
    In fact I couldn’t find another word where an “o” in a similar environment was given a short pronunciation. Generally only longer words with a stressed “ol” followed by an unstressed vowel get the short “o” in MQD. I do hear this distinction but not in “solder”.
    So apparently “solder” is a very special case in Australian English and I am a special case in my pronunciation of the word!

  33. DamonKelly says:

    I would dispute the Macquarie’s pronunciation guide — I’ve only ever heard the long O version (same as soldier, shoulder) here on Oz.
    I can’t think how they arrived at a short O. Any difference in “length” between “solder” and “soldier” must be minimal, in Australian pronunciation.

  34. I’m a English Montrealer living in Toronto who says SODD-er. So does my father (pronounced FODD-er) who lives in Winnipeg, but is originally from Montreal.
    Now, how does everyone pronounce “caulking?”

  35. Late in from Melbourne, Australia, definitely solder as in rhymes with shoulder. Why is this odd? that’s the way it’s spelt!!!
    I guess the regionalism comes from being a fairly technical word that one tends to use with the people around you. It gets written down in books but doesn’t usually make it into the movies. I must confess to never having heard an American say the word (which is pretty remarkable given how much American programming there is on Australian television) and even if I had I doubt I would have even recognised it.

  36. I was born with a soldering iron in my mouth (got the bit between my teeth early) in Birmingham in the UK Midlands. Most of my linguistic development took place in Lowestoft on the East Coast, and my school years were in Plymouth, Devon. My accent is… well, nobody can tell what region I’m from, apart from Southern Middle Class. My father is Northumbrian, my mother a Cockney, but both picked up proper speaking at Cambridge.
    I spent school holidays in a Devon TV repair shop, soldering with the locals, when I wasn’t soldering in my bedroom. I subsequently spent some time in the defence industry, soldering alongside engineers from all over the UK and some second-generation Asians, and then in Cambridge, Essex and London, still wreathed in flux smoke (flux is the resin or rosin – either is used – at the core of solder, which deoxidises the metals you’re soldering).
    Despite being a creature of text these days, I still own three soldering irons and occasionally solder for fun with friends and alone.
    In all that time, I’ve only pronounced it and heard it pronounced as soulder – with two exceptions. A rather ancient Cornishman who worked in the Devonian TV repair shop called the tool a ‘soddering iron’, and an American friend from Boston — I don’t know his family history –calls it sodder.
    (The Cornishman also called the cathode-ray oscilloscope a ‘crow’ – from CRO – and the spectrum analyser a rectum paralyser. I shall leave it there.)

  37. i’m from Yorkshire. For me it rhymes with ‘older’ and ‘shoulder’. But what confuses me about all these comments is that there is no mention of the dark ‘l’. Clearly it has some effect on the preceding vowel. The IPA symbol for the vowel on the first consonant for me would be an upside-down ‘a’ (or more like a smaller upside-down ‘Q’). In other words, pretty near cardinal vowel no 5 (but in a northern English kind of way!). Followed by a dark ‘l’. Followed by schwa.
    A form such as ‘soldering’ might follow the same pattern or, if it was something I found myself saying regular, I can imagine that it would start to sound like ‘soldiering’ more regularly. But I don’t think I’d ever pronounce ‘solder’ as ‘soldier’. Who knows without a real study, though?

  38. kendall says:

    so it wasn’t just my imagination, solder IS sollder IS sawder.
    welsh person in canada

  39. It’s sohl-der in India.

  40. SOLDER (sold-her) in Italy.

  41. In Italy? Are you talking about the British expat community?

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