Re: difference pronunciation between "flower" and "flour"
jenn21, what is your level? What dictionary are you using? I am guessing from your name that you are in university level. Well, if you are intermediate to advanced I strongly recommend you (and everyone):
1. http://dictionary.cambridge.org/. I think it's the best. It got phonetic symbols for both British and American ways of pronounciation. It's web-based so you can look up vocabulary anywhere in the world.
You can get the Book+CDROM version or CDROM-only version. I suggest you get the Book+CDROM as the prices are not much different. Trust me, it's gonna be a good investment. We are not taught to pronounce properly in school. This is our real weak point. Also we mix British and American pronounciation. In school, most use British pronounciation mixing with a bit of American. But in real life American influence is greater than British influence so you will find more of American pronounciation. Let me give you one or two example. We pronounce "class" as "คลาส" as in British but when you go to the cinema, you will hear "แคลส". We pronounce "grant" as "แกร๊นท" and most of us have no idea that's American way because in British way it's "กร๊านท" and we never hear that in school nor in real life unless you come to the UK or watch some UK films or TV.
I am not advertising for Cambridge Press but this dictionary is gonna help you great deal. Again, trust me.
For the CD-ROM, you have to use it on computer with Microsoft Windows 95, 98, ME, 2000 or XP (please note NT4 is not supported). Check the System Requirements page. Once you have familarised yourself with the phonetic symbols and the correct way of pronouncing them using the CD-ROM, you won't have any problem checking the http://dictionary.cambridge.org/ website for the meaning and correct pronounciation anywhere you go.
Not only the real British and American voices you will hear from the CD-ROM, you can also hear your own voice! By recording your pronounciation and then listen to it as a way to practice your pronounciation!
The difference to the Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary is that this one focuses on pronounciation only. There is no meaning of the words. But there are more words like names of places, people, etc. Also there is only British pronounciation sound. No American sound. But there is phonetic symbols for American pronounciation. I don't recommend it strongly but if you got some spare money you might like it.
To me, "flower" and "flour" are homophones. I can't agree with the CALD (Cambridge . . . ) on this one. Is this a case of spelling makes pronunication? Seems like it.
I don't have access to audio from Oxford Dictionary. Any one has?
I don't think it is a case of spelling makes pronunication. It could be that you the native speakers tend to be kind of hurry when pronouncing so you drop some sound from words. For example, for the word "flower" the Americans pronounce the 'w' sound. If you say you pronounce "flower" as same as "flour" then you pronounce it like flow-er. But I pronounce it as flow-wer. With the distinct paused between the two w's. Which I think might be overkill for native speakers. As for the British, they don't even pronouce the 'w' so it is like flaa-er.
Originally Posted by Casiopea
Hold on. I'm Canadian. Which speaker group should I choose? (agh)
You are a moderator why don't you add one for yourself?
Should we have options for same/different AND native/non-native too? So that would be 6 options. Oh, it would be 8 with Canadian. Then what about Australian? And what about non-native with Amecian/British/Australian accents? Not to mention South African, etc.