Vowels 7 and 11, /ɔ/ versus /3/    237 pairs      [allearl.html]

The /ɔ/ vowel is usually spelled <or>, <our>, and <oar>, but we also see <au>, <aw>, <al> in hall, and <ar> after <w> in warship. The /3/ vowel is spelled <er>, <ir>, <ur>, <ear>, and <or> after <w> in worship.

This is a contrast between two long vowels. They are fairly close together in the mouth but are distinguished by lip-rounding. They can sometimes be a source of confusion, but are not a problem for any particular group of learners.

Interesting pairs include:

The density figure is fairly high at 7.62%. The set makes 120 semantic contrasts giving a loading of 51.5%.

accord occurred
all earl   
assort assert
  assorted asserted 
  assorting asserting
  assorts asserts
auburn urban
auk irk
  auks irks
awe err
  awed erred
  awes errs
awl earl
  awls earls
awning earning
  awnings earnings
balk burke
  balked burked
  balking burking
  balks burkes
bauble burble
  baubles burbles
bawd bird
  bawds birds
board bird
  boards birds
blackboard blackbird 
  blackboards blackbirds 
boar burr
  boars burrs
bore burr
  bores burrs
bored bird  
Bourne Bern 
bourn burn
  bourns burns
calk kirk
  calks kirks
call curl
  called curled
  calling curling
  calls curls
caller curler
  callers curlers
caught curt
cause curs
caw cur
  caws curs
cawed curd 
chord curd
  chords curds
coarse curse
cord curd  
  cords curds
conform confirm 
  conformed confirmed 
  conforming confirming 
  conforms confirms 
consort concert 
  consorted concerted 
  consorting concerting 
  consorts concerts 
Corby Kirkby
core cur
cork kirk
  corks kirks
corse curse
  corses curses
course curse
  coursed cursed
  coursing cursing
  courses curses
court curt
courtly curtly
exhort exert 
  exhorts exerts 
  exhorted exerted 
  exhorting exerting
export expert 
  exports experts 
fall furl
  falling furling
  falls furls
faun fern
  fauns ferns
for fir 
for fur
forced first 
fore fir
fore fur
form firm 
  formed firmed 
  forming firming 
  forms firms 
former firmer 	  
four fir
  fours firs 
four fur
  fours furs  
gaud gird
  gauds girds
gall girl
  gall girls
Gaul girl
  Gauls girls
ghat girt
hall hurl
  halls hurls
haul hurl
  hauled hurled
  hauling hurling
  hauls hurls
hawed heard
haws hers
hoar her 
hoard heard
hoard herd
  hoards herds
  hoarded herded 
  hoarding herding 
horde heard
horde herd
  hordes herds 
hoarse hearse 	 
horse hearse
  horses hearses 
horn Herne   
inform infirm 
lawn learn
  lawns learns
more myrrh
Mormon merman
mortal myrtle
  mortals myrtles
Norse nurse
ore err 
orgies urges   
pall pearl
  palled pearled
  palling pearling
  palls pearls
pall purl
Paul Pearl
pause purrs
paw per
paw purr
  pawed purred
pawky perky
  pawkily perkily
porch perch 
  porches perches 
pore per 
pore purr
  poring purring 
  pored purred
  pores purrs
pour per
pour purr
  pouring purring
  poured purred
  pours purrs
pork perk 
porpoise purpose
  porpoises purposes
port pert 
portly pertly 
record recurred
seaboard seabird 
  seaboards seabirds 
short shirt 
  shorting shirting 
  shorts shirts 
soar sir 
  soars sirs 
soared surd
sorely surly
spawn spurn
  spawned spurned
  spawning spurning
  spawns spurns
spore spur 
  spores spurs
sport spirt 
  sported spirted 
  sporting spirting 
  sports spirts 
stalling Stirling 
store stir 
  stored stirred 
  stores stirs 
  storing stirring 
talk Turk 
  talks Turks 
talkie Turkey 
  talkies turkeys
thawed third
torn tern 
torsion tertian 
vortex vertex 
  vortices vertices 
walk work
  walked worked
  walking working
  walks works
walker worker
  walkers workers
wall whirl
  walled whirled
  walling whirling
  walls whirls
war were
war whirr		  
  warred whirred
  warring whirring
  wars whirrs
warred word
ward whirred
ward word
  warded worded
  warding wording
  wards words
warm worm
  warmed wormed
  warming worming
  warms worms
warship worship
  warships worships
wart wert  	  
whore her
whores hers
yaw year
  yaws years
yawn yearn
  yawned yearned
  yawning yearning
  yawns yearns
yore year

John Higgins, Shaftesbury, November 2009,
updated Chiang Mai, May 2024