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Bolder than a boulder and other stumps and stones of English orthography

One good thing about English spelling is that, when you look for some oddity in it, you don’t have to search long. So why do we have the letter u in boulder (and of course in Boulder, the name of a
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One good thing about English spelling is that, when you look for some oddity in it, you don’t have to search long. So why do we have the letter u in boulder (and of course in Boulder, the name of a town in Colorado)?  If my information is reliable, Boulder was called after Boulder Creek. A boulder near a small stream won’t surprise anyone, but the letter u in the word and the place name may, as journalists like to say, raise some eyebrows. Bolder (the comparative degree of bold), older, colder, folder, and holder do without u, but shoulder, unexpectedly, sides with boulder. American spelling has mold in all its meanings and the verb molder, while the British norm requires ou before l. What is going on here? Perhaps the huge size of an average boulder contributed to the preservation of an extra letter in its name? The easiest case is old, cold, gold. The regular predecessor of –old in such words was either –ald or a short diphthong. Before ld, the vowel a (short, that is,. . .

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News source: Linguistics – OUPblog

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