This morning, I heard a BBC reporter saying on Radio 4’s Today programme that: “Americans are now preparing for another error of divided government.” At first, I thought I understood what the reporter was saying. But then I remembered that some Americans pronounce era in the same way that British speakers pronounce error. The reporter—speaking in an American accent—had, in fact, said: “Americans are now preparing for another era of divided government.”
This isn’t the first time this pronunciation has confused me. I was nonplussed in 2015 when the boss of Microsoft appeared to say on the Today programme that the launch of Windows 10 is a new “error”. Windows 10 launch is a ‘new era’, says Microsoft boss – BBC News
How different are the pronunciations?
https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english lists the following pronunciations for these words
As the table shows, one American pronunciation of era uses the same vowel as in the American and British pronunciations of error. The other American pronunciation uses a different vowel, which is closer to the British vowel in era (though not identical to it).
There is one other small difference in pronunciation. For both American and British speakers, error ends in a residue of an /r/ sound, but era does not contain this sound. The spelling reflects this difference between these words.