Vowels 4 and 9, /æ/ versus /u/    172 pairs      [batboot.html]

The /æ/ vowel is spelled <a> followed by two consonants or by one consonant in a monosyllable. There are many different spellings of the /u/ vowel represented here, including <oo>, <o> in >who, <ew> in brewed, <uCe> in flute, <ou> in soup and <ui> in bruit.

One of the sounds is short and the other long and they are well separated in the mouth, and so should not cause problems for learners.

One pair involving a mildly taboo term is Bab's/boobs. This will raise a smile particularly through the association with Barbara Windsor and a well-known scene in the film Carry On Camping in which she loses her brassière. Another more dangerous pair is can/coon, since the word coon, originally short for raccoon, is now chiefly used as an offensive term for black man.

Interesting pairs include:

paddle poodle
plateau Pluto
straddle strudel

The mean density is 2.2%. The set makes 85 semantic contrasts giving a loading of 49%.

addles oodles
as ooze
Bab's boobs
bad booed
baggy boogie
bast boost
bat boot
  bats boots
  batted booted
  batting booting
battle Bootle 
batty booty
brad brewed
  brads broods
brat bruit
  brats bruits
brat brute
  brats brutes
cad cooed
can coon
  cans coons
Cannes coon
cap coop
  capped cooped
  capping cooping
  caps coops
Capt cooped
cat coot
  cats coots
Chad chewed
Chas chews
clad clewed
crap croup
  craps croups
dam doom
  dams dooms
damn doom
  dammed doomed
  damming dooming
  damns dooms
dash douche
  dashes douches
fad food
  fads foods
flak fluke
flat flute
  flats flutes
  flattest flutist
flax flukes
gaff goof
  gaffs goofs
gaffe goof
  gaffes goofs
gal ghoul 
  gals ghouls
glad glued
gram groom 
  grams grooms
had who'd
Hal who'll
ham whom
hap hoop
  happed hooped
  happing hooping
  haps hoops
has who's
hatter hooter
  hatters hooters
haves hooves
Jan June
jazz Jews 
lack Luke 
lacquer lucre
lam loom
lamb loom
  lambed loomed
  lambing looming
  lambs looms
lap loop
  lapped looped
  lapping looping
  laps loops
lass loose
  lasses looses
lassie Lucy 
lat loot
latter looter
lazar loser
  lazars losers
mad mood
Maddy moody
man moon
  manned mooned
  manning mooning
  mans moons
mass moose
  masses mooses
match mooch
  matched mooched
  matches mooches
  matching mooching
mat moot
  matted mooted
  matting mooting
  mats moots
paddle poodle
  paddles poodles
pal pool
  palled pooled
  palling pooling
  pals pools
pap poop
plateau Pluto 
  plateaus Plutos 
rabble rouble
  rabbles roubles
ram rheum
  rammed roomed
  ramming rooming
  rams rooms
rat root
  rats roots
  ratted rooted
  ratting rooting
rattle rootle
  rattled rootled
  rattles rootles
  rattling rootling
sap soup
  sapped souped
  sapping souping
sapper super
  sappers supers
saps soups
scanner schooner
  scanners schooners
scat scoot
scatter scooter
  scatters scooters
shad shooed
shatter shooter
  shatters shooters
slap sloop
  slaps sloops
snack snook
  snacks snooks
snap snoop
  snapped snooped
  snapping snooping
  snaps snoops
span spoon
  spanned spooned
  spanning spooning
  spans spoons
straddle strudel
  straddles strudels
tat toot
  tatted tooted
  tatting tooting
tattle tootle
  tattled tootled
  tattles tootles
  tattling tootling
trad trued
trap troop
  trapped trooped
  trapper trooper
  trappers troopers
  trapping trooping
  traps troops
trap troupe
  traps troupes  

John Higgins, Shaftesbury, January 2011,
updated Chiang Mai, May 2024