On Sat, 26 Jan 2002, Roger Mills wrote:

> Interesting.  Amer.Engl. /ow/ (as in pole) and /U/ (as in pull) are
> undergoing merger in some dialects-- but mainly before /r/; I think this
> started in NYC speech. Thus "sure" and "shore" are becoming homophones or
> nearly so.  I hadn't heard of it before /l/, but it's not surprising since
> /r/ and /l/ are somewhat similar.
> I suspect it has more to do with the velarized /l/ than with retroflexion,
> though I could be wrong.

Oh, you're catching up with us ;) /O:/ and /U@/ seem to have merged in at
least some of England, and /O:/ and /u@/ but not /ju@/* have merged in
Australia. Thus, 'shore' and 'sure' are homophones. Exceptions apply, such
as /tu@/, 'tour' and /d{u@/, dour (which I believe is /du@/ elsewhere).

*Is there some way to express that? It doesn't matter what the sound---if
any---before the /u@/ is, so long as it's not a /j/ (before /tj/ > /tS/,
/dj/ > /dZ/).