Vowels 5 and 8, /ɑ/ versus /ʊ/     39 pairs      [barkbook.html]

The /ɑ/ vowel is usually spelled <ar> but we also find <a> in khaki and pasha. The /ʊ/ vowel is spelled <oo> or <u>, and <ou> in should.

This contrast is between a long and a short vowel, both back vowels but fairly well separated in the mouth. It is unlikely to cause many problems for learners.

There is one set of pairs involving a taboo word: fart/foot.

Interesting pairs include:

barley bully
khaki cookie
pasha pusher

The density value is 1.99%. The pairs make 19 semantic contrasts, giving a loading of 48.7%.

bark book
  barked booked
  barking booking
  barks books
barley bully
card could
fart foot
  farted footed
  farting footing
  farts foots
guard good 
  guards goods 
hard hood
hark hook
  harked hooked
  harking hooking
  harks hooks
khaki cookie 
lakh look
  lakhs looks
lark look
  larked looked
  larking looking
  larks looks
nark nook
  narks nooks
parch putsch
  parches putsches
pardon pudden
  pardons puddens
parley pulley
  parleys pulleys
part put
  parts puts
pasha pusher
  pashas pushers
shard should
shark shook
starred stood

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