Vowels 7 and 18, /ɔ/ versus /ɪə/    131 pairs      [awesears.html]

The /ɔ/ vowel is usually spelled <or>, <our>, and <oar>, but we also see <au> in laud, <aw> in raw and <ar> after <w> in war. The /ɪə/ diphthong is spelled <eer> or <ear> and unusually <ie> in tier and <ei> in weird. Note that the pair eyesore/icier which the computer pulled out is not a true minimal pair since, as so often the case, /ɪə/ in that word is two syllables rather than the diphthong.

This is a contrast between a long vowel and a diphthong. The starting positions are a long way apart there is no risk of confusion.

Interesting pairs include:

The density figure is 3.15%. The set makes 71 semantic contrasts giving a loading of 55.9%.

aura era
  auras eras
awe ear
  awes ears
bawd beard
  bawds beards
boar beer 
  boars beers 	  
boar bier
  boars biers  
board beard
  boarded bearded 
  boarding bearding 
  boards beards
bore beer
  bores beers	
bore bier
  bores biers  
chaw cheer
  chawed cheered
  chaws cheers 
chore cheer 
  chores cheers
Claud cleared
claw clear
  claws clears
clause clears
Dawley dearly
daw dear
  daws dears
door dear 
  doors dears
dory dearie 
  dories dearies 
drawer drear
eyesore icier
for fear 	   
fore fear
force fierce 
ford feared 
four fear
  fours fears 
foursome fearsome 
gaud geared
gauze gears
gnaw near
  gnawed neared
  gnaws nears
gore gear 
  goring gearing 
  gored geared
  gores gears
haw hear
  haws hears
hoar hear 
indoor endear
jaw jeer
  jawed jeered
  jaws jeers
laud leered
Laura lira
lawn lien
  lawns liens
law leer
  laws leers
lor leer 
lore leer
lord leered
maw mere
  maws meres
more mere 
Morley merely
nor near 	  
oar ear
  oars ears
or ear
ore ear
  ores ears
o'er ear 
orally eerily 
pause peers
paw peer
  pawed peered
  paws peers
paw pier
  paws piers
pore peer 
  poring peering 
  pores peers
  pored peered
raw rhea
raw rear
roar rear 
  roared reared 
  roaring rearing 
  roars rears 
saw sear
  sawed seared 
  saws sears
saw seer
  saws seers
shore shear 
  shored sheared 
  shores shears 
  shoring shearing 
snore sneer 
  snored sneered 
  snores sneers 
  snoring sneering 
sore sear	 
  sores sears
sore seer	 
  sores seers
spore spear 
  spores spears 
storage steerage 
store steer 
  stored steered 
  stores steers 
  storing steering 
tawse tears
tor tear 
  tors tears
tor tier
  tors tiers  
war Wear 
war weir
  wars weirs
ward weird
warder weirder
yore year

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