Clint Jackson Baker wrote:

>In my idiolect (thanks to whoever
>used that word in a post yesterday!) I say the words
>Paul, pole, and pull (esp the latter two) with what
>seem to be only two phones.  My tongue indeed seems to
>be in a retroflex position; it's like I've assimilated
>the [l] into the vowel.  Would I be right in calling
>this a retroflex vowel?  How would I represent it in

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.

You later wrote:
>Sitting here I realize that when I say those words the
>tip of my tongue actually doubles back and touches my

How's that again?? :-)  Are you sure you didn't mean "...touches my palate"?
(Or else you have an amazingly and super-humanly  flexible tongue....)